Elected officials, Sikh community show support for vandalized Indian restaurant

June 24, 2020
In The News

Santa Fe, N.M. (KRQE) – A Santa Fe Indian restaurant is still picking up the pieces after vandals went on a rampage, leaving behind extensive damage and messages of hate. The community and state leaders came together to show their support for the restaurant and share messages of love.

“We will not stand for this and we will not tolerate this hate, this kind of desecration in our community,” said Speaker of the House, Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe). Elected officials, members of the Sikh community and other New Mexicans stood outside the India Palace on Wednesday afternoon in support after the restaurant was marred by vandals.

“We’re so sorry this family had to experience this kind of anger, this kind of threat to them simply for who they are,” said a spokesperson for the New Mexico Sikh community, Daya Singh Khalsa. Over the weekend, vandals broke in, destroying the place and spraying white supremacy and other racist and vulgar messages throughout the restaurant.

“This deplorable act is not New Mexico,” said State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard. “New Mexico is about love, inclusion, celebration, diversity, that’s what makes us strong. That is what makes us who we are.”

The damage topping $100,000 but by Wednesday, more than $125,000 has been raised through online donations from Santa Feans who have valued the Singhs as a part of their diverse community for more than 30 years. In addition, people across the state have been sending messages of support for the restaurant’s owners.

“Within hours, Santa Fe and the entire state of New Mexico rallied around this family,” said State Auditor Brian Colon. “Rallied around this community and rallied around this institution that’s behind me the India Palace.”

For now, they are still picking up the pieces. “As Sikhs we have our scriptures tell us we have no enemy, that we can hold no resentment and we must forgive and also stand tall in the face of injustice,” said Religious Rights Coordinator Simran Khalsa. “And especially for our fellow citizens.”

The owner is staying strong. Thankful for the outpour of support and love. “So don’t worry, I’m still here,” said India Palace owner, Baljit Singh. “I’m still working to bring you good food for everybody, I’m working hard for you guys.”

New Mexico’s Congressional Delegation and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham have also chimed in, echoing the same kind of support.

“Now is the time to truly confront the racial and ethnic divisions that some have used to try and keep us apart,” said Senator Tom Udall in a press release.  “Now is the time to heal these divisions and move forward as one nation, as one people. We have the opportunity to prove to the world – and to ourselves – that all people are created equal.  That people of all colors, ethnicities, sexual orientations and gender identifications, religions, and backgrounds of every sort can live together as one nation, as one people.”

“New Mexico is a beautiful and diverse tapestry of cultures, but white supremacy is threatening our way of life and our belief in dignity and respect for all people,” said Congresswoman Deb Haaland in the same press release. “This hate crime was not only an attack on India Palace, it was an attack on all of us. I’m heartbroken to know that people in our state are so filled with hate that they would target a minority small business when times have been so hard under this health crisis. I stand in solidarity with the Singh family against hate and violence. This is not who we are, and we will not stand for it.”

Lastly, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber was unable to attend the event due to a previously scheduled City Council meeting but made the following statement:

This hate crime is sickening and appalling. We need to stand up as a community and denounce this despicable act. We will find whoever did it and punish them to the full extent of the law. The Singhs are a long-standing Sikh family that has used its own resources to feed homeless Santa Feans through the goodness of their hearts. For them to be attacked this way breaks our hearts. We absolutely reject racism, intolerance, and hate. As Mayor and as a community, we rise in unity to support the Singhs and their employees.

The FBI and Santa Fe Police are investigating the hate crime. The police chief said they are reviewing surveillance video and will release it soon.