Your elderly grandfather is out for his morning walk.
A ritual that hundreds, of Manteca residents do every day.
He heads for the neighborhood park.
While enjoying the day he’s approached by two young cowards. Long story short, he ends up being repeatedly kicked and spat on and at one point has a gun waved at him. Sounds like a nightmare, doesn’t it?
The nightmare came true Monday morning at 6:04 a.m. for 71 year-old Sahib Singh.
Singh — a gentleman who has had heart and other health issues — was out for his daily constitutional. It consist of three leisurely laps of Graystone Park. It’s a neighborhood park sandwiched in a pleasant, 1980s era neighborhood southeast of Louise Avenue and Union Road where the streets are named after rocks such as Diamond, Agate, Sapphire, Garnett, and Jade.
Singh had just turned the corner from Emerald Place and was headed west on Turquoise Way.
A homeowner’s security camera captured what Manteca Police clearly say is a robbery attempt adding they are not ruling out the possibility of it ending up as a hate crime. Robbery, hate crime, or both what transpired next is something that should never be tolerated in Manteca or anywhere else. Every effort needs to be made to get the animals off the street.
The video shows two young men — using the term “men” extremely generously — approach Singh on foot. One is described as Black wearing a dark hoodie and the other is of an undetermined race wearing a white hoodie.
They stop his progress on the sidewalk. They appear to say something to Singh whose command of English is weak. Even if he spoke to them his speech would have been slurred due to the lingering effect of epilepsy.
He steps into the street to walk around him. They turn and follow. At one point the two individuals who are likely between 18 and 21 years of age, physically step in front of the frail 71-year-old .
When they don’t get whatever they wanted, the thug in the black hoodie kicks Singh, who stumbles backwards onto the street. Singh struggles to get up. And while still bent down, the coward in the black hoodie backs up and then takes a run at Singh viciously kicking him in his groin.
You read that right. A 20-year-old strapping sorry excuse for a man kicked a defenseless elderly grandfather in the groin.
This time Singh hits his head,
The thug in the black hoodie walks over to where Singh landed and leans over as if he’s trying to find a wallet. If he had found anything it would have been a loving note from his daughter asking if her father for some reason gets disorientated to give her a call. It’s a precautionary measure for a proud man working on keeping his health and independence. Meanwhile the guy in the white hoodie walks over and simply stares down at Singh while his buddy appears to being trying to rob the 71-year-old.
The two then start walking away toward Agate Avenue and out of the view of the security camera. Then 12 seconds later the guy in the black hoodie runs back and viciously kicks Singh three times near his head as he lay on the street. He then starts leaving again, pauses, turns around, and then spits at Singh.
And before they get in their vehicle and take off, the guy in the black hoodie pulls out what appears to be a gun and waves it about.
Understand the police have to follow protocols especially if they want to have a successful prosecution if and when they make an arrest.
But to an untrained eye the decision to come back elevated it from a robbery gone wrong as the thug in the dark hoodie landed three more kicks to an elderly man who happened to be Sikh, looks and dresses differently than him, and then to cap it off spits on the man certainly looks like it qualifies as a hate crime. It might be a wrong conclusion. Perhaps they were just frustrated that Singh had nothing they could steal and as certifiable dregs of society they felt Singh deserved a kick or three and to be spat on.
But then again when criminals steal from convenience store clerks they don’t return after leaving the store to attack the clerk or just so they can spit on them.
The two fled in a dark colored sedan, headed toward Louise Avenue. Manteca Police are hoping other people have video not just in the neighborhood but in the access streets leading to it between 5:45 a.m. and 6:15 a.m. that might help them reconstruct their movements before and after the attack and — if lucky — captured a license plate. The non-emergency Manteca Police number is 456-8101
We as a community can’t let such violence stand whether it was done during the commission of a cowardly robbery attempt or tainted with hate. It’s imperative that we fight back.
It just so happens this evening is National Night Out, an event designed to get neighbors more attuned with each other so when something looks amiss they will step up and either check on their neighbor or give police a call.
In Singh’s case he was lucky a man walking his dog a short time later saw him and rushed to help. One can only wonder what the thug wearing the dark hoodie was capable of doing behind the wheels of a car if someone who was more capable of dealing with him hadn’t showed up.
It took Singh — at the urging of family and friends — over six hours to report the attack to police. Reports indicated he was concerned because he had done nothing wrong and feared for his life.
Read those last four words again. He “feared for his life”.
Singh, by the way, after finally going to the hospital was determined to have injuries that are serious for an elderly gentleman and has his neck in a collar brace.
The real question for all of is not should we pack up and move to Montana. That’s what more than a few Manteca residents did back 15 years ago when a meth lab was being busted every two weeks in Manteca including one operated out of a trunk of a car. They wanted to get away from the meth-related issues. Fifteen years later meth labs are rare in Manteca and are flourishing in Montana. You can pack up and leave but you can’t escape problems. You have to fight back and take your community back just like Manteca did with the wildly out-of-control meth problem and again a dozen years ago when gangs were exchanging summertime gunfire almost every other night including newer sections of Manteca south of the 120 Bypass. They had a chokehold on law-abiding families in the Southside Park neighborhood.
A multi-agency pushback that included health and building inspectors, fire marshals, probation officers, Border Patrol, and other law enforcement teamed up with the community to go after the problem. They did the same things for the ills that inflicted downtown at the time at second floor havens of crime police and others had given nicknames such as Heroin Heights and Meth Manor.
We need to make sure that thugs don’t steal from us not just possessions but the ability to live without fear.
Manteca needs to be the place where those who operate outside the law know that they will have the pressure on them if they try to ply their evil trades in town. This has to be the place where police have the reputation for aggressively ticketing for speeding and running stop signs that almost everyone thinks twice before they dare do it.
And to get to that goal we all have to be part of the solution. We need to insist on not just a fair and even-handed enforcement of laws but an aggressive and relentless approach.
It is what drove Modesto and Stockton gangs out of downtown Manteca on Friday and Saturday nights in 1992 when they turned the Taco Bell on Yosemite Avenue across from Manteca High into their virtual hangout.
Manteca has done it before. And they did it by taking a holistic approach that went after the root of the problem — including slum landlords — as well as organizing more than 120 neighborhood Watch groups at one point.
The vicious and cowardly attack on a Manteca resident is an attack on all of us.
The question is now whether we are going to step up and fight using everything we legally can to keep Manteca a place where a 71-year-old man can walk around a park without fearing an attack.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org