Cops Welcome Sureshbhai Patel to America

March 30, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


Early this year, 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel came from India to the U.S. to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and baby grandson in Madison, Alabama, a suburb of Huntsville. On February 6, when he had only been here for a couple of weeks, he was walking on a residential street near the family’s home, trying to get a little exercise. Little did he know that his “welcome to America” from the Madison Police Department would result in being brutalized and partially paralyzed.

Sureshbhai PatelSureshbhai Patel at Huntsville Hospital, Huntsville, Alabama.

Someone saw Patel walking and called 911, saying that “a skinny black guy” was “just kind of wandering around” and, “I’d like somebody to talk to him.” The caller—acting like the racist vigilante George Zimmerman did when, on February 6, 2012, he stalked Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida—told 911 that he was following Patel from a distance and that he was afraid to leave for work and leave his wife alone at home.

What happened next was caught on video from the police car’s video cam: Madison police officer Eric Parker and another cop, Andrew Slaughter, drive up, get out of their car and walk up to Patel and start harassing him. Right away it’s clear that Patel doesn’t understand what they are saying, but he manages to tell the cops, “No English. Indian. Walking.” But the cops keep throwing questions at him, asking him for his ID, where is he going, where does he live, what is he doing. Patel points down the block and tries to walk in that direction. Within 90 seconds from the time the car pulls up, the cops have violently slammed Patel, who weighs 130 pounds, to the ground.

A second squad car then pulls up. One of the cops straddles Patel’s body, and you can hear one cop saying, “He don’t speak a lick of English.” When the cops try to move Patel, it’s clear he is suffering from a serious injury and cannot move—his legs keep buckling under him, lifeless. But the two cops keep pulling him up, demanding that Patel get up and walk, potentially causing further injury.

Eventually, Sureshbhai Patel was taken to the hospital where he had to have spinal surgery. His spinal injuries caused paralysis in his arms and legs, and he has only recently been able to regain some use of his limbs and been able to walk short distances with the aid of a walker.

People in Indian communities all over the country voiced their outrage at this horrible police assault and raised funds to help with Sureshbhai Patel’s medical expenses. When Indian government officials heard about the incident, they said they were taking it “very seriously.” In this case, the U.S. authorities were not able to just completely sweep it under the rug. One of the cops who assaulted Patel, Eric Parker, was charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor, and has pleaded not guilty. The Madison Police Department also took steps to fire Parker (who is now on paid leave pending an appeal of his termination).

Now the U.S. Justice Department has indicted Parker, charging him with depriving Patel of his constitutional right “to be free from unreasonable seizures, which includes the right to be free from the use of unreasonable force by one acting under color of law.”

Sureshbhai Patel can be added to the long and growing list of people who are victims of the EPIDEMIC of police murder and brutality in the USA—directed especially at people of color. It is up to the people to put a STOP to these intolerable crimes being carried out by the police.


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