Community leaders rallied Friday night to denounce a hate crime in Queens, when 40 Hindu flags were burned at a Woodhaven home on Thanksgiving morning. NY1's Na'eem Douglas filed the following report.
Police released surveillance video of a man who they believe burned 40 Hindu flags on Thanksgiving morning.
The flags belonged to a family living 80th street near 89th Avenue in the Woodhaven section of Queens.
"Some had shared an article, and it said, 'Hindus alert: there is someone going around burning flags in the community. Everyone needs to remove their flags from the front yards and put them in the backyards.' And that really upset me because someone is going around telling people to hide who they are," said Aminta Kilawan of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus.
The flags burned play a central role in Hindu beliefs. So in response to the act of hate, Hindu neighbors and community members from all walks of life gathered at the spot of the incident.
"Each flag represented a prayer, a special prayer. That is sacred. To anybody believes in who believes in any type of religion of religion a prayer that it is a sacred is a sacred thing."
"Right now, what is going on with the violence, one way or the other, it crosses all religion, and we need to put a stop to this," said one person at the gathering.
Organizers say the attacks in Paris and California have put a touch of fear in the air, a fear of those who are different, and by standing together Friday, it shows that the community and city, despite its differences, are standing as one.
"This really is a teaching moment to teach individuals about the significance of the Hindu flag, and whenever there's an act against any community, regardless of ethnicity or race, it is really important that we come out together," said Public Advocate Letitia James.
The family that the flags belong to were dealing with a death in the family and could not come to the event, but an organizer says they plan on putting their flags back up.