Second Mistrial Declared South Asians Must Be Vigilant and Engaged

Novem­ber 5, 2015
Con­tact: Lak­sh­mi Sri­daran,

SAALT is out­raged that a sec­ond mis­tri­al was declared on Novem­ber 4, 2015 after a dead­locked jury once again failed to con­vict Madi­son, AL police offi­cer, Eric Park­er, on a civ­il rights charge brought against him by the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice ear­li­er this year. Park­er was cap­tured on video beat­ing Indi­an grand­fa­ther, Sureshb­hai Patel, to the point of par­tial paral­y­sis in Feb­ru­ary after Patel, ini­tial­ly iden­ti­fied by a neigh­bor as a “sus­pi­cious Black man,” repeat­ed­ly told the offi­cer he could not speak Eng­lish. The U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice re-tried the case after the first mis­tri­al was declared in Sep­tem­ber.

“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 U.S. we expect you to fol­low our laws and speak our lan­guage. Mr. Patel bears as much respon­si­bil­i­ty for this as any­one.”

“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.

As we see time again with police bru­tal­i­ty cas­es in this coun­try, par­tic­u­lar­ly with Black vic­tims, the mes­sage of this case is loud and clear: that police bru­tal­i­ty rarely war­rants pun­ish­ment. Dante Bar­ry, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Mil­lion Hood­ies Unit­ed, not­ed: “It is absolute­ly dev­as­tat­ing to hear the news from Alaba­ma as it reflects a deep pat­tern of unfair­ness for peo­ple of col­or. 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.”

SAALT encour­ages South Asian Amer­i­cans to be vig­i­lant and engaged in the efforts of the move­ment for Black lives to draw atten­tion to the ways in which Black com­mu­ni­ties in par­tic­u­lar, as well as oth­er com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, are fac­ing state vio­lence. “The case of Mr. Patel pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty for South Asians to become active par­tic­i­pants in the demands of the move­ment for Black lives,” said Suman Raghu­nathan, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of SAALT.