QUEENS (PIX11) — The Sikh community in Queens gathered for an interfaith rally Wednesday night to denounce hate.
This was after a Sikh man was killed in what police are calling a road rage incident. The community is now pleading with police to investigate the death as a hate crime.
Holding signs that said “Sikh Lives Matter” and chanting “Stop the hate…” members of the Sikh community were joined by elected officials and interfaith leaders for a rally in South Richmond Hill, Queens.
The group remembered 68-year-old Jasmer Singh after his horrific death. He was a husband and father of three, originally from India, and moved here in 1991.
“He worked as a construction worker..then as a cab driver to feed and educate us. He ended up losing his life,” his son Subeg Singh Multani said.
Police said a 30-year-old man beat Singh after the two drivers crashed on Van Wyck Expressway near 87th Avenue around noon last Thursday.
Singh was taken to the hospital, where he later died.
“He just rampaged on my father in the span of three minutes. He just hit my father so hard on his head. His two front teeth were taken out,” Multani said.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams previously tweeted,
“Jasmer Singh loved his city and deserved so much more than his tragic death. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want our Sikh community to know you have more than our condolences. You have our sacred vow that we reject the hatred that took this innocent life, and we will protect you.”
Police said it was not a hate crime. But the family thinks otherwise and wants it investigated as one:
“He used the word Turban, man, I’m not letting you go home. According to me, this is hate,” Multani said.
Mani Sandhu agreed.
Police said Sandhu, 19, was attacked while onboard an MTA bus by another passenger in what investigators have said was an unprovoked, religious-based bias attack earlier this month.
The suspect has since been charged with a hate crime and assault. Sandhu said he no longer feels safe in his community.
“I don’t know if anyone is going to attack me again,” Sandhu said.
The community said the goal of the rally was to create more awareness and stand united against hate.
“Education education education: let’s get to the root. Not just when a hate crime happens, we put a bandage on it. Making sure kids are educated early on so they’re more tolerant and not fall on the misconception of ignorance,” Japneet Singh, a community advocate, said.
Police have arrested Gilbert Augustin, from Queens, in connection to Singh’s death. He is facing several charges, including manslaughter, assault and leaving the scene of an accident.