The day after a Sikh temple in California held its official grand opening, someone spray-painted a swastika and the words “white power” on its property.
A neighbor found the vandalism Monday morning, CNN affiliate KCRA reported, on a stone at the entrance to the Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara Sahib in Orangevale, northeast of Sacramento. The neighbor was out walking his dog and put a tarp over the vandalism, KCRA reported.
The graffiti was removed later Monday.
“We must all stand up against hate in our communities,” said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We are here to support the Sikh community and encourage any witnesses to come forward with information about this hate attack on a house of worship.”
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the vandalism as a hate crime, Sgt. Tess Deterding told CNN. They have no information about a suspect, she said.
The building doesn’t have any outside markers signifying that it’s a Sikh temple, Deterding said, adding it’s possible the vandal thought it was a Jewish temple or other building.
California has one of the largest populations of Sikhs in the United States. Yuba City, about an hour’s drive away from Orangevale, draws around 100,000 people for its annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a Sikh festival.
“This is racism. This is a hate crime,” volunteer Dimplejeet Bhullar told KCRA. “This is unfortunately something no one should have to go through, no community, no religion.”