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WALKING WHILE INDIAN

A 57 year old grandfather from the Indian town of Pij, was roughed up by Madison, WI police, for walking on the sidewalk outside his son’s home.

Chirag Patel, an engineer for one of the many government contractors in Huntsville, said he had just bought a one-way ticket for his father, bringing him from the small Indian town of Pij to his new home in fast-growing suburbs of Madison.

He said his father, Sureshbhai Patel, was to help his wife care for their new baby, a 17-month-old son, so he could pursue his masters degree in electrical engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

According to news reports, Madison police received a phone call from a neighbor claiming that a suspicious person was looking into garages.  When police arrived, they attempted to question Patel, who does not speak English.

“The subject began putting his hands in his pockets,” reads the police statement. “Officers attempted to pat the subject down and he attempted to pull away. The subject was forced to the ground, which resulted in injury.”

suresh6.jpgSureshbhai Patel, 57, at Huntsville Hospital (Special to Al.com)

Sherrod said he spoke with Sureshbhai Patel at Huntsville Hospital this morning. He said there were two officers present and that Patel was patted down and did not pull away. Sherrod said one officer then pulled Patel’s arm up behind him and slung him face first into the ground. He said Patel could not say what happened after that.

“This is just one of those things that doesn’t need to happen,” said Sherrod, saying the police escalated to violence without cause and left Patel lying bleeding from his face, paralyzed and in need of paramedics. “That officer doesn’t need to be on the streets.”

At some point, we Americans will realize that these incidents are not simply isolated events, but a pattern of behavior consistent with the growing militarization of police forces across the country.  I have little doubt that race is a factor in this matter.  All of us appreciate neighbors looking out for each other.  However, I can’t help but think the color of Patel’s skin played a part.  Perhaps I am wrong.  At any rate, the bigger issue is the increasing boldness with which police resort to violence in their interactions with citizens.  Perhaps, they have all been watching too many action films and believe that this is an acceptable way to deal with citizens. A 57  year old man lies injured in the hospital because two police officers were unable to figure out any other way to communicate than ramming a citizen head into the cement.

The idea is not to hamstring the police from apprehending criminals.  What we must do is to find a way to educated officers in their interactions with everyday folks walking down the street minding their own business.


About Author

Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips was born on January 17, 1962 in Denver, Colorado, USA as Joseph Connor Phillips. He is an actor, known for General Hospital (1994), The Cosby Show (1984) and Strictly Business (1991). He has been married to Nicole since 1994. They have three children.

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