By David Brand
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday ordered the state police to conduct a hate crime investigation into the attack on a Hindu priest in Glen Oaks last week.
Swami Ji Harish Chander Puri was allegedly attacked by Sergio Gouveia near the Shiv Shakti Peeth Temple in Glen Oaks in the late morning of July 18.
"I am disgusted by the attack on a Hindu priest in Queens, mere blocks away from the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple,” Cuomo said. “This terrible, inexcusable act of violence is now being investigated as a potential hate crime.
"Violence of any kind toward others based on their faith or race is offensive to all New Yorkers and repugnant to our values,” he continued. “These hate-fueled acts are meant to incite fear and division within our communities, and we must stand together and disavow this behavior immediately.”
Gouveia allegedly punched Puri in the face and struck him in the body with an object, according to the criminal complaint. The object was reportedly an umbrella.
Gouveia was arraigned the next day on charges of third-degree assault, second-degree harassment and fourth-degree possession of a weapon. He has not been charged with a hate crime, despite public outcry, including from local leaders.
Attorney General Letitia James has also labeled the attack a hate crime.
“It’s clear to me that this should be treated as a hate crime, so I’m urging NYPD to investigate it as such,” James said, according to CBS2. “To the individuals who may have witnessed it, I urge them to come forward.”
Puri said at a Tuesday press conference that he forgives his alleged attacker.