Saturday, June 11, 2005

Thugs in the News

We discussed in seminar the appearance of "thugs" in the local news. I took the following Vancouver Province article from "The Voice of Sikh Youth."
As we now know, a 17 year old Sikh from Richmond made up a story of "five thugs" who beat him up and cut off his hair. To their great credit, posters on the forum thread in were mostly not only sceptical but called for prosecution of the Sikh youth were the story to turn out false.
Our interest in the story of course is how our course demographic of -- males between fifteen and thirty-five -- are convenient targets for easy fault. "Blame the thugs" is an ready motto for the media, the government (especially Britain's) and anyone in particular who is having personal problems. The "runaway bride" in America recently, and the young child in Edmonton last year who accidently hung his family dog were similar cases of someone inventing thugs as a way to disguise their own guilt.

Sikh leader, police urge community to remain calm
Five Thugs beat up 17-year-old Sikh beforecutting off hair
John Colebourn and Stuart Hunter
The Province June 1, 2005
CREDIT: Nick Procaylo, TheProvince
A 17-year-old Sikh was attacked by a gang of thugs and had his turban ripped off and hair cut at Grauer Elementary School in Richmond. An Indo-Canadian leader and police appealed for calm yesterday after a young
Sikh's turban was pulled from his head and his long hair cut off by five thugs. "
I'd like to ask my brothers and sisters to remain calm," said Balwant Sanghera, a spokesman for the Sikh Societies of the Lower Mainland. "This is very serious and we have some young men who may get too excited and I urge them to remain calm."
"The hair, the turban, they are all religious symbols to us. I think the people who committed this heinous crime need help." " I hope it's not a hate crime -- it's an isolated incident. I don't remember anything like this in the Lower Mainland
before." Said Richmond RCMP Cpl. Peter Thiessen: "This is absolutely disgusting. Whether this is a hate crime or not, we're not clear yet but it has all the elements that could classify it as a hate crime." This has huge overtones in the Sikh community and we want them to remain calm and not overreact." The 17-year-old Sikh was walking home across
the playing field at Richmond's Grauer Elementary School about 5:15 p.m. last Thursday when five Caucasian men in their 20s who were playing basketball approached. One uttered a racial slur and the Sikh ignored him and kept walking.
But the men ran after him and punched him in the head, knocking him to the ground. Once down, one of them held an X-Acto knife to his neck as the others punched and kicked him. They grabbed the teen's wallet, pulled off his turban and cut
off his hair with the knife. He was treated in hospital for cuts and bruises.
Nav Sanghera, a volunteer with the Indo-Canadian Youth Anti-Violence Group, said the attack "would be very traumatic to a practising Sikh." "This is the ultimate insult. When you go attacking someone's religious conviction it's hard to see it as anything else other than racist."
Kulpreet Singh, 22, a volunteer with the West Coast Sikh Youth Alliance, called the attack disturbing."This is five people targeting an innocent person for no reason -- it's just a racist thing."I think it was just a bunch of thugs. I think this is something a lot of high school students face. It is a very horrible situation."Singh predicted the victim will recover with spiritual guidance."The things they did to him, physically, he will heal from but when it comes to cutting his hair and taking his turban, he will need moral support and spiritual strength."Kasar Bhatti, a member of the Khalsa Diwan Society which runs the Ross Street Temple, predicted a community backlash."It is not only insulting but a desecration of the Sikh faith -- the hair is a symbol and it is to be kept unshorn and in a turban," Bhatti said. "You don't hear about that kind of incident happening very often."This is more than just a little fight in a school yard. The whole community will be upset and have demonstrations -- it's a matter of faith just like if a Muslim or Christian was attacked for his faith."Residents of the well-kept neighbourhood where the attack took place said there have been problems in the past, but nothing so violent."It's shocking. Weekends you hear noise and kids are drinking but I've never heard about problems like this," said Parwez Hamidi, 26.Linda Curial recently moved to Richmond from the Vancouver east side to get away from gang problems.She was surprised no one saw the attack. "You'd think at suppertime people are out working on their yards and someone would have heard or seen something," she said. "There's a lot of people going through the school grounds at that time of day."Police are looking for witnesses.In March, a 28-year-old man was swarmed by a pack of about 20 teens and savagely beaten at Minoru Park in Richmond.Three people are now before the courts on assault charges.

No comments: