New York Police Department officers are searching for a suspected arsonist in a Thanksgiving day attack on a local Queens-area home. Surveillance video footage captured a figure entering the front yard of the Queens home at 89th street and 80th avenue, and setting fire to nearly 40 Hindu prayer flags, leaving behind a pile of charred debris.
There is no word yet on motive, and specifically whether or not this was a targeted attack because the flags were religious objects of the Hindu faith. Nonetheless, South Asian Americans have increasingly become the target of hate crimes and other bias incidents since September 11, 2001, and increasing Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric has only heightened the danger for Muslim Americans and those (such as Sikh Americans and other South Asian Americans) whom racists mistake for Muslims. Indeed, last year another Queens-area Sikh man was the victim of vehicular assault in an anti-Muslim and anti-Sikh hate crime.
Nobody was injured in last week’s Thanksgiving day attack but police say the suspect was last seen wearing a three-quarters length jacket, a baseball cap, and carrying a travel bag. Anyone with information about the attack should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477), visit www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or text 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577.