‘Our Community is Not Afraid:’ Residents Gather at Forum after Sikh Men Attacked

MODESTO -- Recent attacks in Manteca and Keyes have been devastating blows to the Sikh community.

But they won't back down.

"I'm not afraid," said Jaspreet Kaur. "Our community is not afraid. We feel the love and support from our neighbors."

Community members from different backgrounds gathered at a forum in Modesto Thursday. It started a conversation about how to move forward from the violence.

"This is an opportunity for us to educate and this is also a great opportunity to unite the whole community as one whole," said Manteca's Vice Mayor Gary Singh.

They believe the future is in the hands of the youth. High school and college students spoke about the changes they want to see.

For Surjit Malhi, who was beaten and had his car vandalized in Keyes, he says the show of support gives him hope.

"Make me feel better," Malhi said. "People come together, they're standing for us, for me and for the other guy. I feel really good."

Representatives of the Sikh community did not want the meeting to just be about them. They said it was a chance to give a voice to others, regardless of where they're from.

"I know that we're going to be building a brighter, more successful future for us," Kaur, the event organizer, said.

There will be a "know your neighbor event" in Turlock on Sept. 15 and one in Manteca on Sept. 22. A peace march will be held Sunday in Manteca.