Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to assist the NYPD in an investigation into the attack on a Hindu priest in Queens last week.
Cuomo said he was “disgusted” by the assault on Swami Ji Harish Chandler Puri blocks away from the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple in Glen Oaks last Thursday. Puri was wearing religious clothing at the time, officials said.
"Violence of any kind toward others based on their faith or race is offensive to all New Yorkers and repugnant to our values," Cuomo said in a statement, adding: "These hate-fueled acts are meant to incite fear and division within our communities, and we must stand together and disavow this behavior immediately."
Police said Sergio Gouveia, 52, of Floral Park, struck Puri with an umbrella multiple times last Thursday.
Gouveia was charged with assault and harassment according to Sgt. Mary Frances O’Donnell, an NYPD spokeswoman. He is not currently charged with a hate crime.
Other New York officials joined Cuomo in condemning the attack. State Attorney General Letitia James held a news conference outside the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple on Tuesday with State Sen. John Liu and Assembly members Clyde Vanel, David Weprin and Alicia Hyndman.
“It’s agonizing to think that this man of peace and spirituality … could be beaten so viciously in this wonderful neighborhood,” Liu said.
James said she stood in solidarity with the members of the community that surrounded her. “Hate will never be tolerated here,” she said.