The Day – Vandalized Sikh educational bus shelter signs in Norwich


Norwich – Three bus shelters with signs describing Sikh heritage, origins and customs were vandalized earlier this week, including one at the entrance to Walmart-Big Y Square which was damaged twice.

Glass was broken at the Walmart Hideaway and at a haven on West Main Street across from the shopping plaza with Shop Rite, TJ Maxx, and Restaurant Moe. The billboard was folded at the West Main Street location.

After the glass in the Walmart shelter was replaced by outdoor billboard company Lamar, purple and yellow paint was sprayed on the glass, with an X across the word Punjab, the Sikh homeland. There was also written what appears to be “Jan 7” followed by an M and a W.

The Lamar sign company removed the Sikh sign from the Walmart shelter, but the graffiti painted on the glass remains.

In a third shelter, outside Moe’s restaurant on West Main Street, purple spray paint was scrawled on the turban of the man depicted in the sign and purple and yellow paint partially covered a list of Sikh values ​​and pillars of faith.

Swaranjit Singh Khalsa, whose panels sponsored the Sikh Art Gallery, reported the vandalism to Norwich Police and filed reports online with the FBI and the Anti-Defamation League in case this was found to be part of a larger scheme. He also alerted local Sikhs to be “more vigilant” in the coming weeks. He said he was particularly concerned about the seemingly vague reference to January 7.

Norwich Police Chief Patrick Daley said police were investigating the incidents. Police will contact local businesses along West Main Street and Salem Turnpike to see if security cameras have a view of the bus shelters.

Anyone with information on vandalism is urged to contact Norwich Police Officer Michael Krodel at (860) 886-5561, ext. 6.

Eight signs, each featuring a different theme of Sikh history, religion or culture, were erected in Norwich bus shelters in October as part of a campaign to educate and raise public awareness about Sikhism .

Khalsa, a Sikh community leader elected to city council in November, said he was disappointed with the vandalism that apparently targeted Sikh education signs, but added that he did not believe it was affecting the community of Norwich as a whole.

“Personally, I don’t think it’s a racist town,” Khalsa said, pointing to the damage to one of the West Main Street bus shelters, “because they voted for me”.

Khalsa was the second-highest voter among the six aldermen elected on November 2. A Norwich business owner, he has led educational efforts over the past few years, participating in Rotary Norwich’s diversity celebrations, donating several welcome signs written in 24 languages. and the opening of the Sikh Art Gallery at 7 Clinic Drive last February.

Governor Ned Lamont and Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz recently visited the gallery on separate days.

The gallery will organize an open house from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Wednesday, January 5.

“We have done these educational poster campaigns a number of times in the past,” Khalsa said, and vandalism like this has never happened before. “But I will not demoralize myself and I will continue my efforts to fight against hatred and bigotry.”

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