It was dubbed as a “Heroes Walk” Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. for two Sikh men who had been assaulted in separate incidents in Manteca and Keyes within the last three weeks.
The walk was led by Congressman Jeff Denham and State Assemblyman Heath Flora who were unable to attend the scheduled peace walk at 6 p.m. Peace Walk around the Graystone Park on Agate Avenue where Sahib Singh had been kicked and spit upon some 13 days ago. Denham said he had to schedule the second walk at 3 p.m. because of a previous conflicting engagement in Sacramento. He brought Surjit Malji, 50, of Keyes with him to join in the heroes walk. Malji had also been assaulted recently.
A large group of family and friends in the Sikh community had gathered in Singh’s Manteca home just blocks from the park to greet the two lawmakers when they arrived shortly before 3.
“Thank you for all you do in our communities,” Denham told the Sikh members present. “We will never give in to any kind of racism in our communities.”.
“We were very pleased that everyone was there in the moment with the resident allowing the use of his video tape and the support of the suspect’s father,” Manteca Mayor Steve DeBrum said. “We are not going to allow racism of any kind in Manteca.”.
Parminder Singh Sahi of the Sikh group added, “In India nobody cares but here we have support of our congressman. Everywhere I go to have coffee I hear the support of the community.”
He credited Manteca City Councilman Gary Singh for having been on the case from the beginning, Singh sought out the security tape from a nearby resident and filed the police report that the victim didn’t want to file against the man who allegedly assaulted him in the street.
Denham told the two men that he would like to host them to go to Washington, D.C., and let the lawmakers and the nation hear what they have had to face in their home communities.
Assemblyman Heath Flora added it is has been an honor for him to represent both men over the past few years saying the state has to continue to support victims and to educate the public so assaults like this don’t happen again in the Sikh communities.
Councilman Singh noted, “This is an opportunity to educate the students in our schools and to teach about the different cultures in the Middle East more than just at the college level. So much of this happens out of ignorance. For a lot of folks, they don’t understand and see the difference in the varying cultures from the East.”
The small group went over to Graystone Park on Agate Street north of Alameda and visited the area where Singh had been assaulted. Congressman Denham presented Singh with his own personal challenge coin to carry with him in the future.
Denham held Singh’s left hand and Malhi’s right hand as a group of about eight men close to the incident walked together down the sidewalk in obvious determination that this wouldn’t happen again in Manteca or in Keyes in Stanislaus County.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.