HAF Urges Immediate Action to Curb Police Brutality

Washington, D.C. (February 11, 2015) - Leaders at the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) strongly condemned the brutal police attack on Sureshbhai Patel, a Hindu American of Indian origin. The attack, which occurred in the first week of February in Madison, Alabama, left the 57 year old grandfather partially paralyzed with fused vertebrae, and other injuries.

“This attack on an individual who had committed no crime is unfortunately consistent with the continued pattern of aggression shown by police officers in the Tamar Rice and the Eric Garner cases,” noted Samir Kalra, Esq., HAF’s Senior Director for Human Rights. “While the Madison police department acted appropriately in suspending the officer involved, it still faces serious questions about how this tragedy could have occurred.”

HAF leaders have previously spoken out against police brutality and undue profiling of minorities. Mr. Patel’s lawyer, Hank Sherrod, indicated that the victim was targeted primarily because of his ethnicity. Additionally, the situation escalated due to Mr. Patel’s lack of familiarity with English.

“This incident only reinforces the importance of appropriate cultural training for all officers of the law,” stated Harsh Voruganti, Esq., HAF’s Associate Director of Public Policy. “We hope that the Madison police department will use the resources at its disposal to ensure that their officers respond appropriately and measuredly to all incidents, regardless of the background of the persons involved.”

HAF is working with the Department of Justice to develop a Hinduism 101 training for first responders. The training is intended to improve the cultural competency of police officers and avoid the escalation of incidents based on language and cultural barriers. HAF has developed a similar training for Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents.