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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