By Jonathan Sperling
Racist graffiti continues to stain the wall of a CVS Pharmacy in Jackson Heights, as locals and the store’s manager wait for the corporation to approve its removal.
The graffiti features a line drawn through the Sanskrit symbol for Om, a deeply sacred symbol in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism. Next to the crossed-out symbol is the word “USA?”
Jackson Heights residents first noticed the spray painted hate message on the side of a CVS at 72nd Street and Northern Boulevard on Sunday. The marking was still there Monday afternoon.
“I walked by there with my wife and kids yesterday in the early afternoon — it was just so offensive that it would be on the wall of a store in a neighborhood. I think it’s even more appalling that CVS wouldn't remove it,” Jackson Heights resident Shekar Krishnan, told the Eagle.
The graffiti was “especially appalling” considering CVS Health’s donations to a political organization that advocates for the policies of President Donald Trump, said Krishnan, who is Hindu.
“We are an incredibly vibrant and diverse community so it’s especially appalling in a South Asian community. We wish CVS would stand with us too against this sort of hate,” Krishnan added.
An employee at the CVS told the Eagle Monday that a store manager was aware of the vandalism and that the store was taking measures to remove the graffiti.
CVS’ corporate office did not respond to the Eagle’s request for comment as of press time Monday.
The graffiti is not the first messages of hate spotted in the Jackson Heights area. Swastikas were found spray-painted on two public libraries and a synagogue in 2011.
Jackson Heights Councilmember Daniel Dromm told the Eagle that his office had been in contact with the store as well as NYPD officers from the 115th Precinct. In a call with the Eagle Monday, Dromm called the graffiti “disgusting” and said that the store was not able to remove the graffiti without corporate approval.
The NYPD is unable to remove the graffiti because it is located on private property, according to Dromm.
“It’s extremely offensive, it doesn’t represent the majority of people that live in Jackson Heights, Dromm said. “This is not the Jackson Heights I know.”