LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The community showed its support Saturday for members of a Hindu temple vandalized with hateful graffiti, which was reported to LMPD earlier in the week.
A 17-year-old JCPS student was arrested for the crime Friday.
A spokesperson for the temple said he expected maybe 20 or 30 people to show up to a clean up event, but a lot more came out.
As people packed into the Swaminarayan Temple, the first flight of stairs they climbed, next to a spray-painted wall, was a reminder of just why they showed up.
“Last year in October, we lost two of our citizens to hatred at the Jeffersontown Kroger, and then this incident, It reminds us that our work is not done,” Muhammad Babar, the President of Muslim Americans for Compassion said.
Leaders of different faiths took the time to call out the graffiti painted inside the temple as hateful. It included a painted-over deity image, anti-Hindu messages and phrases like “Jesus is all mighty.”
The message Saturday though was one of inclusivity, as all that came covered the phrases with a fresh coat of paint.
“We may not have as much work with the number of people here, but we will do our best to make sure that everyone gets a chance to have some paint to erase the hate,” temple spokesperson Raj Patel said. “We’re all brothers and sisters. One bad apple, that does not represent true faith.”
Also in attendance were political rivals Attorney General Andy Beshear and Governor Matt Bevin, who joined together to help those at the temple worship in peace.
“One of the greatest freedoms that we have is the freedom of religious liberty,” Bevin said.
Earlier this week, the President of the Universal Society of Hinduism urged Bevin to visit the temple.
“Sometimes you need to have that authority figure step in and weigh in and they did,” Patel said.
Bevin said he didn’t come Saturday because of that national call from USH, but because of other discussion he had with local temple leaders.
“It was for the leadership that I came out of respect,” Bevin said. “For them to understand that at the highest levels in Kentucky, as the governor, that I have no tolerance for this.”
Many people–who eventually overflowed into the temple lawn–scribbled messages of love on paper to give to temple members.
“I’m very humbled and don’t have words to say, but thank you, thank you and we love you,” one temple leader said. “Thank you.”
Members of LMPD, including the chief, also showed up.