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Sikh News Young Edmonton Man Jailed For Breaking Soccer Dad's Face In Violent Swarming

Vikram singh

Feb 24, 2005
EDMONTON, Alta. - For 15 years, since kindergarten, Manpreet Grewal had been teased and taunted about his turban. He kept his anger quiet, kept it inside. Tell the teachers and it would just get worse.
But at age 18, when angry soccer parent Dean Smith got in his face, threatened to grab his religious headgear and "shove it up his ***," he snapped. He and four teammates swarmed Smith and repeatedly kicked him in the head so violently his face fractured in five places.
On Monday, Grewal, now 20, was sentenced in Court of Queen's Bench to a year in jail for aggravated assault. Smith looked on from the front row; Grewal's family was right behind him, wiping away tears.
"The victim's comments brought back memories of (Grewal's) previous experience with prejudice," said Justice Brian Burrows, who read from a pre-sentence report on Grewal.
"He does not blame the victim, but he said it was a triggering event for him."
Burrows said the attack was so vicious that jail was warranted. But he also suggested that the 45-year-old Smith had a part to play.
"It was a serious racial and religious slur by a man who is a generation older. He said a taunting thing that was far beyond foolish. It was contemptible."
Nobody, including Smith, deserves to be swarmed and attacked, Burrows said, but added in this case "it was not surprising."
Outside court, Smith said there was a lot of racist trash talk on both sides after a soccer game between Grewal's team and the team that Smith's son was playing for on June 5, 2008.
He said Burrows wasn't told at trial about the unrelenting taunts Smith endured that spurred him to respond.
"Parents only have so much patience," he said. "I'm a very patient man."
Of the sentence, he said: "I was quite pleased with the outcome (but) I still have a lot of recuperating to do."
Grewal's family did not comment.
The youth was found guilty after a trial six months ago, but had his sentencing delayed until Monday so he could finish his first year of a post-secondary business administration degree.
He was also sentenced to a year's probation.
The pre-sentence report said Grewal was born in the mining town of Blairmore in the Crowsnest Pass in the Canadian Rockies. His dad was a miner. When Grewal was five, the mine shut down and the family moved to Edmonton.
Grewal, a Sikh, wore his turban proudly. But starting in kindergarten, and from then on, year after year, he felt the sting of racist comments from classmates. He tried ignoring them, noted the report, because telling on them would only bring more trouble.
On the night of the attack, he was playing for a team from Mill Woods — a south Edmonton area home to a thriving East Indian community. Grewal was known as a student with good grades who was devoutly religious, a hard worker and a staunch community volunteer.
The game got ugly early. The teams, already divided by community and jersey colour, were also, as it happened, divided by race. The Mill Woods team was mainly East Indian; their opponents from the west end La Perle community mostly Caucasian. There were a lot of cheap shots, penalties and trash talk.
Grewal's team won the game, but the jawing didn't end. Court heard both sides, parents included, hurled four-letter words and racial and homophobic slurs.
Smith had had enough. "You guys won the game. Leave us alone," he recalled telling them.
Argument escalated into confrontation. The La Perle coach tried to intervene, calm things down.
The teens mocked Smith, calling the five-foot-two man with the bristly brush cut "little man" and "white faggot."
Smith retaliated, spying the orange patka — religious Sikh sport headgear — on Grewal. "I told him I was going to pull his {censored}ing do-rag off his head and shove it up his *** if he didn't shut up," he told court during the trial.
What followed, recalled the La Perle coach in court, was a split second of dreadful stunned silence. Then the fight was on.
The teens charged after Smith. He turned and bolted for the parking lot. Over the grass he ran, until he slipped, fell. They were on him in a heartbeat.
In 15 seconds of violence they used his head like a soccer ball. They delivered repeated kicks that effectively collapsed the right side of his face. He needed five metal plates inserted to rebuild it and had to have his jaw wired shut for two months. There were multiple plastic surgeries.
The teens broke his nasal passage and {censored}ed up his right eye so badly it was blurry for more than a year. Parents saw the attack and came running over. Police were called. The teens fled. Smith was left on the ground, his face a meaty red pulp.
Witness reports finally allowed police to round up and charge five players. Grewal told police he threw one punch at Smith and fled. Smith later said Grewal was the ringleader.
Charges were dropped against the other four, who were under 18 at the time.
At trial, Burrows said it was impossible to say who delivered what blow, but Grewal was part of it and knew that Smith was in considerable danger.
Grewal told court after his conviction that he was sorry and said he took responsibility.
On Monday, Smith said the apology didn't amount to much. "A true apology would be somebody looking you in the eyes when they apologize, would it not?"
He said prison might change that. "There may be some good thinking and some good remorse after he does come out, after he has more time to think about it."
Smith said he was never told why charges were dropped against the other four.
He said he's still paying for what happened. He lost his business after the attack and now has to drive a truck 12 to 15 hours a day to make ends meet. He effectively lost two years with his kids while he was in and out of hospital. One side of his face is still numb and swells from time to time.
Would he do things differently if he had it to do all over again?
"I guess I could've tried to walk away," he said. "That would have been the best. But that's hindsight, I guess."

Mai Harinder Kaur

Oct 5, 2006
British Columbia, Canada
I guess this is one person who will think twice before insulting a Sikh's turban again.

This is so difficult. Yes, Manpreet Grewel ji should have kept control and walked away, and they shouldn't have been taunting the little guy anyway. Short men tend to be very sensitive. Still, it is not difficult to see how all the years of pushing down the pain and humiliation came exploding out.

I know that Smith didn't deserve to be so badly injured, but I can't help but believe he deserved something. Or do we just continue to take it, whatever that IT is.

I'm very glad that young Manpreet wasn't wearing a kirpan.
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