By now, I suspect you’ve seen the video of Sureshbhai Patel, the 57 year old grandfather from India who was left partially paralyzed after being stopped and slammed to the ground by police officers in Madison, Alabama while going for a walk around his son’s suburban neighborhood on the morning of February 6. (Patel had just arrived in Alabama, where he was intending to help look after his one year old grandson.) Things apparently escalated quickly once police, who had been alerted to the presence of a skinny, dark-skinned man walking slowly down a residential street, became frustrated by Patel’s inability to say more than “India” and “no English.” Well I was thinking about this case, struggling with what I’d like to say about it, when I happened across the following quote from Michigan expatriate Brandon Zwagerman, which I thought summed things up pretty perfectly.
“Is this now the endgame when suburban landscape and attitudes (simply being a pedestrian is “suspicious” in this community which is the fastest-growing city in Alabama, 75% white, $90,000 median income) intersect with racist attitudes (especially if a pedestrian is “black”) and militarily blunt and aggressive police training? Disgusting.”
The answer, it would seem, at least judging from this video of the incident, is “Yes.”
One wonders what it will actually take for us, the people of the United States, to finally start to take the subject of excessive police force seriously. If this most recent incident isn’t enough to bring about serious change, what has to happen to get us to that point? Apparently seeing a 12 year old with a toy gun shot to death by police wasn’t enough. And neither was seeing an unarmed man choked to death by police. So, what will it be? Do we need to see an old woman being stomped to death by riot cops? Do we need to see a child thrown out of a window and killed during a raid? What the fuck has to happen before people take to the streets and demand real, substantive change?
[Thankfully, it would appear that, due in large part to the outcry from the Indian government, things have taken a positive turn in this case, and Eric Parker, the officer who threw Patel to the ground, has been arrested. Let’s hope that this is just the first step of many.]