South Asian American organisations have expressed “outrage” at the second mistrial of a former police official charged with use of excessive force against an elderly Indian man that left him partially paralysed. “SAALT (South Asian Americans Leading Together) is outraged that a second mistrial was declared on November 4, after a deadlocked jury once again failed to convict Madison, Alabama police officer, Eric Parker, on a civil rights charge brought against him by the US department of justice earlier this year, for attacking Sureshbhai Patel,” a statement said.
“While the trial was supposed to focus on the unreasonable use of force that Parker used on Patel, it was Patel’s immigration status and English proficiency skills that were really on trial,” said Lakshmi Sridaran, director of national policy and advocacy at SAALT. Indeed, in his opening remarks, Parker’s attorney said: “When you come to the US we expect you to follow our laws and speak our language. Mr Patel bears as much responsibility for this as anyone”.
Parker was captured on video beating Patel, a grandfather, to the point of partial paralysis in February after Patel, initially identified by a neighbour as a “suspicious Black man,” repeatedly told the officer he could not speak English, SAALT said.
“We continue to believe in the strength of the evidence and that the defendant’s actions violated the constitutional rights of the plaintiff,” said Bhavani Kakani, president of AshaKiran. “It is absolutely devastating to hear the news from Alabama as it reflects a deep pattern of unfairness for people of colour. Although grounded in anti-blackness, police brutality by law enforcement and immigration enforcement is no stranger to South Asian communities and it is indicative of this political moment to be on the path to justice,” said Dante Barry, executive director of Million Hoodies United.