A Sikh man out putting up campaign signs was viciously attacked by two unknown men, who beat him, vandalized his truck, and yelled at him to “go back to his own country.”
And while the brutal attack left Surjit Singh Malhi, 50, of Turlock shaken — both physically and emotionally — the rallying spirit and actions of the people in his life and complete strangers has fortified his faith in the community.
“I’ve gotten big support from the community, which was really great,” Malhi said.
The July 31 incident, which happened in Keyes, is being investigated as a hate crime by the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department and detectives are hoping the public might have some information that will lead to the identification of the attackers.
It was just before midnight and Malhi was out putting up campaign signs for Congressman Jeff Denham. He had stopped near the intersection of E. Keyes and Foote roads and was adjusting the signs in his truck when the two men snuck up on him.
The men through dirt in Malhi’s eyes, leaving him vulnerable to the blows they landed on his head and body with a wooden stake and another unidentified object.
They also spray painted a white nationalist symbol on his truck and wrote “Go back to ur country.”
The suspects fled the area, leaving Malhi bloodied and bruised. The entire encounter only took a minute or two.
Malhi, who owns a business in Turlock and has lived her for 25 years, has been a stalwart supporter of the community and when he needed it the community came to support him.
“Hate crimes have no place in our society,” said Congressman Jeff Denham in a released statement. “The people responsible for this reprehensible act of hatred must be brought to justice. Surjit is a respected leader in our community and a proud American. He will continue to Chair our Sikh’s for Denham coalition. Inciting violence because of race, religion or political beliefs should never be tolerated. This is the third incident in less than two weeks where a member of my team has been a target and it must come to an end. We will continue to foster a campaign of inclusiveness and advocate for a free and civil exchange of ideas. It's shameful that there are those out there who seek to intimidate and commit acts of violence to achieve their goals.”
Members of the CrossFit ParaBellum gym in Turlock, where Malhi attends, came out to support their friend as well. On Sunday morning they made a surprise visit to his house, where they cleaned the hateful words and symbol off his truck.
“Surjit Malhi is truly loved and today we helped him realize he belongs here in America just like the rest of us,” Renee Sedgwick, one of the organizers of the goodwill mission wrote on Facebook. “Our ParaBellum family dropped everything to come out and clean up his truck and yard. Helping hands brought love and compassion into the life of a man that has helped our community from day one. Love will always conquer hate! Our family will not be broken and we will always stand by each other’s sides.”
The Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department is asking that anyone with information about the attack call Detective Ken Barringer at 525-7038. Callers can also leave an anonymous tip with CrimeStoppers at 521-4636 and may be eligible for a cash reward.