Two Violent Attacks on South Asian & Muslim Americans Reveal the Deadly Consequences of Implicit Bias

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57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel recovers in the ICU following a violent attack by police that left him paralyzed in one leg.

I apologize that I haven’t written about these stories until now: I’ve been out-of-town for the last week, and after that, in bed with a bad cold. But, even though I’m late on these stories, they bear revisiting.

On February 6 of this year, 57-year-old Sureshbhai Patel decided to go for a morning walk through his son’s residential neighbourhood in Madison, Alabama. Patel had received his permanent residency visa and arrived in America at the end of January to help care for his 17-month-old grandson, recently born to his son Chirag Patel who works as an electrical engineer.

That morning, Patel wore a button-down shirt, a plain pair of pants, and a woolen cap; he also has dark brown skin. Shortly into his walk, Patel was approached by two uniformed police officers, who confronted Patel. Patel, who speaks only Gujarti, allegedly told the officers, “no English”, “Indian”, and pointed at the house where he was staying with his son. The officers repeated their order to stop; still not fully understanding what was going on, Patel complied.

At this point, the officers engaged in what Patel’s lawyers contend was an unlawful stop: they began to pat him down and search his pockets. When Patel pulled away, the officers body-slammed Patel to the sidewalk (video after the jump); the 57-year-old grandfather suffered a bloodied face and such significant damage to his spine that he is now paralyzed.

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84yo Chinese man beaten by NYPD for jaywalking; language barriers blamed

His head bloody, 84 year old Kang Wong is escorted into a police car before being charged with jaywalking. Photo credit: G.N. Miller / NY Post.
His head bloody, 84 year old Kang Wong is escorted into a police car before being charged with jaywalking. Photo credit: G.N. Miller / NY Post.

The New York Post reported yesterday that Kang Wong, an 84 year old man, was walking against a light in Manhattan’s Upper West Side when police gestured at him to stop. The man, who reportedly doesn’t speak much English, didn’t understand the order. Says one witness:

“The guy didn’t seem to speak English. The cop walked him over to the Citibank” near the northeast corner of 96th and Broadway, said one witness, Ian King, a Fordham University law student.

The cops, at the intersection to ticket jaywalkers just 12 hours after pedestrian Samantha Lee was killed, proceeded to write Wong a ticket. However, Wong still apparently didn’t understand what was going on, and started to walk away from the cop.

“The cop tried to pull him back, and that’s when he began to struggle with the cop,” said King, 24. “As soon as he pushed the cop, it was like cops started running in from everywhere.”

Wong was left bleeding and dazed with cuts to his face.

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