District Attorney steps up after the attack on Sikh elder

But the community was not mollified by official attempts to calm things down

 

Ritu Jha

 

The San Joaquin County district attorney has stepped up after the attack on Sahib Singh Natt, an aged and vulnerable Sikh, on August 6 by the son of the police chief.

In a video statement, District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar reacted after the August 10 arraignment of Tyrone McAllister: “The overwhelming letter received shows we are not divided. We are one community, one that works together to find solutions to create an atmosphere and quality of life that ensures everybody is safe.”

She asked everyone to join the Sikh community to find a solution, though she did not file any hate-crime charges against McAllister, 18, during the arraignment August 10.

Tyrone McAllister

Bail has been set at $300,000, and a criminal protective order was issued prohibiting contact with the victim. Currently, McAllister is in custody.

McAllister was arraigned in San Joaquin County Court after the district attorney’s office charged him with felony violations for attempted robbery and elder abuse. All the charges are more serious because it uses another section of the penal code addressing violent crimes against a vulnerable victim since the victim is over 65 years in age.

On August 6, McAllister and a 16-year-old juvenile participant were captured on security camera assaulting Natt,  a heart patient. He was returning from a routine morning walk at the time.

The camera obtained by Natt’s son-in-law shows two young men walking toward the Natt and exchanging words before following and then attacking him. The suspects then walked away, and returned to assault him a second time.

McAllister is the son of a police chief of the city of Union City in California, which has a large number of Sikhs.

The video posted by the Gary Singh, councilmember, Manteca, went viral and outraged the Sikh community.

The Union City police chief, Darryl McAllister released a written statement August 8 describing his horror at learning that it was his estranged son who had attacked the senior.

But the local Sikh community says that while the letter might be politically and legally correct it’s a cold comfort to the community since he had sidestepped its racial aspect.

In his statement, the police chief wrote that Tyrone had been estranged from his family for several months.

“Words can barely describe how embarrassed, dejected, and hurt my wife, daughters, and I feel right now,” Darryl McAllister wrote. “Violence and hatred is not what we have taught our children; intolerance for others is not even in our vocabulary, let alone our values. Crime has never been an element of our household, our values, nor the character to which we hold ourselves.”

He then added that victim had suffered only minor physical injuries.

He went on, writing that “Despite having the desire any parent would have in wanting to protect their child, my oath is (and always will be) to the law and my vow of integrity guides me through this horrendous difficulty. “

“My son began to lose his way a couple years ago, while he was a juvenile, running away and getting involved in a bad crowd. He pretty much divorced his friends and family, associating with people none of us knew. He got into trouble for some theft-related crimes and ended up spending several months in juvenile hall. As an adult, he was again arrested for a theft-related incident, and he ended up spending another three months in adult jail as a result. Since being released he has been wayward and has not returned to our family home for several months.”

Gary Singh, who is the first council member of Indian descent in Manteca, where the incident happened, told indica what infuriated him in the statement,

“It doesn’t matter whether it’s minor [injury] or any injury; it’s the action… the assault that has happened [that matters],” he said, adding that the police chief should have been taking the opportunity to bring the community together and educating.

It was Gary Singh who convinced the family to report the case.

He said the attack could have been a hate crime.

“It started as a robbery and asking for money, but coming back and hitting and spitting on him and leaving makes one wonder if it was racial,” he said.

Tyrone is a local resident and did his schooling at Manteca High School.

“We are upset after seeing the video,” said Sukhi Chahal, a community leader. “He has not given any detail and not said it was a hate crime or racially motivated. So, I think it was cleverly written and politically and legally very accurate.”

“Union city has [a large] Sikh population. The video [of the attack] clearly shows they [the attackers] were not there to rob this man. The way he [Tyrone McAllister] came back and the way he kicked him and spit [on Natt suggests it] was not a robbery and definitely shows [signs of] racism,” said Chahal.

According to Singh, the idea was not to make it a racial issue but said members of the Sikh community had not reported similar attacks earlier as frequently as they should have.

Singh said support had come from everywhere.

“The whole community came together to catch the suspect,” he said.

Singh also blamed the education system.

“I have been to school here and I don’t think we do a very good job of educating our population about different religions and races and understanding that in California we are a melting pot,” Singh said. “There is ignorance out there, what with so much happening on social media and the ongoing racism nationally. “I think that, too, played a big role.”

Bobbie Singh-Allen, board member, Elk Grove Unified School District in California told indica that children need to be taught about other cultures and religions to help break down barriers and have a better understanding of their neighbors and community.

Sikhs have been in California for over 100 years. Sikhs values are American values.
Schools can play an important role in teaching children about other cultures. Families also need to have conversations in their homes. Schools are only a portion of the education children receive. Parents are responsible for their children.

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