SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Police are investigating a hate crime at a Santa Fe restaurant. The vandalism happened to the India Palace located downtown over the weekend.
Vandals are accused of breaking in on Sunday night, destroying the restaurant, and marking the building with racial slurs and threats of violence. Tables and chairs were overturned and glassware was smashed on the floor.
Tuesday night the family has their own message. Monday, Baljot John Singh says he couldn’t take seeing the more than $100,000 in damage done to his father’s downtown restaurant.
“See, I wasn’t hurt about the stuff that was destroyed… But the thing that did hurt me the most was the vandalism and the slurs. That hurt the most,” said Singh. Messages of hate were spray-painted everywhere. Things like ‘white power,’ ‘go back,’ and many racial slurs.
Cameron Brown works at the restaurant and is a close family friend. He says it brought back painful memories. “Growing up in New Mexico has been rough for me. Before I wore a turban and I had long hair and I’ve been bullied to the point I had to cut my hair and let go of my own culture,” Brown said.
Santa Fe Police say the FBI is helping them investigate the hate crime. While the community leaves their own messages behind, showing the Singh family their support for the restaurant that has been there 30 years.
“It’s the first Indian restaurant in the state of New Mexico… and it will be the last Indian restaurant in the state of New Mexico. We are not going anywhere,” Brown said. The Singh family says they’re overwhelmed by the support they’ve received from the community including the GoFundMe page set up by another Indian restaurant that has already raised $50,000. The India Palace hopes to reopen on Monday.
Also responding, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham stated in a tweet, “I am absolutely heartbroken and disgusted by this racist attack. I spoke to Mr. Singh this morning and let him know that our community is with him. We will not stand for such hatred in New Mexico.”
The senior manager of policy & advocacy at the Sikh Coalition, the nation’s largest Sikh civil rights organization provided the following statement:
No community should ever experience this disgusting bigotry and racism. We expect New Mexico’s elected officials, business owners, and faith leaders to join the Sikh community in unequivocally condemning this act of white supremacist hate. These racist acts are meant to divide us, but we are strongest when we stand together.”
Sim J. Singh, Senior Manager of Policy & Advocacy at Sikh Coalition