A suspect in the horrid beating of 71-year-old Sahib Singh has been arrested.
Now the real tricky part is about to get underway.
We must keep in mind that the 18-year-old suspect Tyrone McAllister is just that — a suspect.
At the same time we must never forget there is a victim who is a real person as the criminal justice system shifts to what must be an even handed fair process that will feature both a rigorous prosecution and a rigorous defense.
Police and prosecutors must now determine whether the vicious attack meets the standards of being a hate crime. If it does and a conviction is secured, it will mean enhanced prison time.
That said even if the inhumane beat down of a 71-year-old grandfather who is frail especially compared to two young males video footage clearly shows are much more physical and stronger doesn’t meet all the minutiae needed under state law to clear the threshold of being designated as a hate crime those responsible must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law including what prison time that entails.
Singh’s injuries have been classified as “minor”.
“Minor” in the real world has different impacts. Kick a muscular, young and healthy male five times compared to a frail 71-year-old using the same force, impact points and such their recovery will be wildly different as well be the rest of their lives.
When my mother was in her 50s and was mugged outside of a laundromat in Lincoln by two men — one in his early 20s and one in his early 30s using a baseball bat to hit her in the head and the hood of her car to slam her face into three times — the law described the injuries as “minor.”
What were those minor injuries? Besides broken cheek bones, a broken jaw, and major bruises about her head, she also lost almost all of her teeth. She was in the hospital three days. She lived with the pain for the last 31 years of her life. Her jaw never set that well. The worst aftermath was severe migraine headaches. She never had them before the beating but afterwards they were a fact of life. At times they would get so bad my mom could barely function without being in excruciating pain. That said it did not stop her from working to support three kids who were still minors at the time.
Nor did she live in fear after being viciously attacked.
I cannot begin to comprehend what Mr. Singh is going through as you read this or what pains and troubles he will face as life goes on.
“Minor” injuries may not be major in terms of having to have major surgeries or be life threatening but they can linger and make life a major challenge.
To a degree, I might be able to grasp the horror, fear, outrage, and concern his family has.
Knowing essentially nothing personally of Mr. Singh except for the fact he is both a fellow human and a member of the community I reside in and belong to, I believe I can safely assume from what I’ve been told he has raised his children well and has been a positive influence.
The challenge for the rest of us is daunting although we can chose to walk away from it.
Being part of a community is more than simply belonging to a social media group. A lot of positive stuff goes on in the virtual world but so does a lot of stuff that doesn’t elevate the conversation or make the world a safer and better place.
To some, the world seems to be wobbling off its axis. Given what we know about the massive and singular atrocities that man has committed against man since the dawn of civilization, we should not simply throw up our hands and retreat into our own shells. There are a lot of reasons to believe the world has become a much better place as time marches on. That said there is a long way to go before we even get within striking distance of a civilized utopia.
The attack on a defenseless 71-year-old in our town is something we can join forces as neighbors and strangers to work and change the narrative that there isn’t much we can do or that it is a police problem.
Violence such as took place in the serene early morning setting of a neighborhood park in Manteca should not be tolerated whether it is in the course of committing a “garden variety’ crime or a hate crime.
The most challenging trick is not us simply trying to be more vigilant in looking out for the safety of others, being more civil or more tolerant but how we can weaken the roots of uncivilized behavior before it takes hold, grows, and chokes the community.
The late Antone Raymus understood this when he founded Give Every Child a Chance on the premise if kids can succeed at an early age it can turn their lives around. It is what drove the community to launch a Boys & Girls Club 40 years ago to help kids take the right path. It’s what prompted the Southside Christian Church to lunch Friday Unity in the Neighborhood to make kids feel they belonged and someone cared,
An ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure.
The challenge is for the community to keep working on the cure.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.