Police Brutality? Deport That Man!

Earlier this month SAALT sent around this statement in response to the following event that took place in Edison, New Jersey:

Community members in Edison gathered on August 2nd, 2006, at a rally to protest incidents of police brutality that an Indian man, Raj Parikh, allegedly experienced on July 4th, 2006, by an Edison police officer. The rally on August 2nd occurred after several unsuccessful attempts by community members to address their concerns with government officials. At the rally, a group of approximately 60 South Asians were met by counter protesters who made anti-immigrant and racist slurs, such as, “How many of you are illegals? You must’ve slid under the border to come here”; “You’re all cockroaches! Go home!”; and “If you behave like animals you will be treated like animals”. Mr. Parikh was scheduled to speak at the rally but was unable to do so, because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials appeared and arrested him. Apparently, Mr. Parikh was out of status and had an order of deportation against him.

<

p>The statement that was sent out included the following recommendations; a) to ensure Mayor Choi’s office leads an investigation that is detailed and public, b) a declaration from the mayor’s office and Edison Police Department. to clarify official policies between local law enforcement and immigration authorities, c) to have elected officials and civic leaders commit to community forums to address the racial tension, and d) to require the Edison Police Department employees to receive a diversity training and meet with the South Asian community members. High but simple basic demands needed to be taken in a community with such a large percentage of South Asians (5th on the list of cities with the highest South Asian American population.)

<

p>This past Friday, Mayor Choi attempted to address the community, but was met with much disdain:

Holding a microphone, Edison Mayor Jun Choi stood alone Friday night facing Hilltop Apartments, a complex almost entirely populated by Indian-Americans.

The mayor’s critics and political observers say Choi, 34, has mishandled the racial controversy over the Indian’s arrest. Barely eight months into office, Choi faces opponents on both sides of the dispute. For Choi, who never held elected office before becoming mayor, it has been a test of how well he can maintain the balance between his Asian-American constituency and the rest of the township, which has become increasingly diverse. [link]

<

p>It’s not just the members of the South Asian community who are disapointed here:

The frat boys who run the police union in Edison declared war on the new mayor this week, picking a fight that was probably inevitable. They gathered Monday afternoon in the parking lot outside township hall, under a huge banner demanding Mayor Jun Choi’s resignation. He asked for an investigation of the latest bad behavior by Edison police officers. [link]

<

p>No word in the news if Choi attempted to address any of the recommendations in the statement, but I’m guessing with both the police union and South Asian community upset, he probably has his work cut out for him. Who will he choose to support- will the old boys network of the police union prevail or does the South Asian community of Edison have enough voting power and are politically organized enough to support Choi through these demands? I’d be interested to hear from our Garden State brothers and sisters that may have been at the rally or are involved in organizing around this issue. Granted, he is taking a steps, but is he taking the right ones?

You know whatcha gotta do to make sure he takes the right steps, mutinous mutineers. You can contact Mayor Choi here.

This entry was posted in Law, News, Politics by Taz. Bookmark the permalink.

About Taz

Taz is an activist, organizer and writer based in California. She is the founder of South Asian American Voting Youth (SAAVY), curates MutinousMindState.tumblr.com and blogs at TazzyStar.blogspot.com. Follow her at twitter.com/tazzystar

72 thoughts on “Police Brutality? Deport That Man!

  1. Hey Taz, I just realized your title is ¡Deporten a la Migra! I have that shirt! We need to come up with a desi equivalent for that.

  2. Yeah you guys, geez. As host for this post i don’t even know how to moderate this thread besides saying “play NICE!”


    I will say this- Vignesh, you say you are skeptical of the incident because of the things you’ve heard in media and word on the street. Personally, I’m skeptical of the whole incident too, especially since media portrayal is usually biased. EXCEPT I really, really, respect the organizations that have co-signed onto the statement that I linked to above. They are the legalese types that would never create and send out a statement unless a real injustice has been done. I do realize that my trust in those orgs, are based on the work I’ve done with them, but I’m passing on the message to you, if they co-signed it, they are more trustworthy than the media.

  3. “What’s not in debate is that some people that we assume are residents of Edison showed up with signs calling their neighbors “cockroaches”, a term used with horrific consequences in the past. My guess is that the counterprotestors were a small group, but for a group of people to openly call neighbors “cockroaches” is just plain ugly.”

    EXACTLY. This in itself speaks volumes. It’s this kind of backlash and comments that makes police brutality believable (whether that part of the story is accurate or not). These comments in themselves point to racism and anti-desi sentiment, whether you believe the police brutality charges or not.

  4. Yeah you guys, geez. As host for this post i don’t even know how to moderate this thread besides saying “play NICE!

    Hey taz, thats what happens when you allow macaccas to leave comments.:) Playing nice is an alien concept to many macaccas like me.

    I do realize that my trust in those orgs, are based on the work I’ve done with them, but I’m passing on the message to you, if they co-signed it, they are more trustworthy than the media.”

    Thanks taz, I definitely have an open mind. I firmly beleive in American judiciary (atleast more than the Indian ones). Justice shall prevail!!!!

  5. I dont think it helps south asian community to be with the Minuteman types when it comes to illegal aliens. Any attrocity on South Asian must, I say must be protested and fought against (no matter the status of the person involved). Otherwise we will remain without any political influence what-so-ever and remain in the political margins of the society.

    A lot of my fellow FOBs (such as Vignesh) dont like politics and unfortunately are elitist and unable to see their elite position and unable to give due consideration to a fellow poorer Desi. This is a disastrous attitude. I dont like breaking of any law just as much as the next guy, but I will support all actions that tries to prevent Desis being run over due to their lower political profile.

  6. Looks like it may not be a population size thing as much as a demographic difference thing.

    (#21)

    Taz, just looking for clarification. What do you mean by this. Do you mean the demographic of the area in which the desi population is found (i.e., the top 4 places on the list would seem to be more racially diverse than the areas surrounding Edison)? I started thinking it might be that Edison/Middlesex is the only one of those where the desi population might be a significant part of the overall population of the area. That is, even though NYC has the largest number of south asians, that population might still be a very small percentage of the population at large.

  7. Looks like it may not be a population size thing as much as a demographic difference thing. (#21) Taz, just looking for clarification. What do you mean by this.

    Interesting. Basically that ranking is based on pure census 2000 numbers, not percentage of desi/all population. Which I dunno, do we think that it would be different? I’m sure if I/someone had the time, that i/they could number crunch it off of census.gov. Anyhow, the demographics are different i feel because even though like NYC, they are more concentrated, closer community, than in Los Angeles which is more sprawl and leads to a different dynamic. Basically, what yo were just saying. ;-)

  8. Taz:

    Desis are definitely very ‘concentrated’ in Somerset-Middlesex counties of NJ, so even though the total population may rank 5th, I wouldn’t be surprised if the density of desis there ranks 1st, especially in terms of percent of total population.

  9. A lot of my fellow FOBs (such as Vignesh) dont like politics

    I am afraid you are making assumptions even without knowing me.

    I dont like breaking of any law just as much as the next guy, but I will support all actions that tries to prevent Desis being run over due to their lower political profile”.

    Breaking the law and supporting the underdogs are two different things. I support my community no matter what. But why should I defend, if the alleged culprit is actually a culprit and not a victim?

    There is nothing elitist about what I said, I am simply asking to verify the facts before hurling abuses on each other. Thats not too much elitism, is it?

  10. There is nothing elitist about what I said, I am simply asking to verify the facts before hurling abuses on each other. Thats not too much elitism, is it?

    Vignesh: I think no one really knows what the facts are as far as the abuse goes but I dont think we should be cheering or even accepting the deportation of this man. The ICE clearly deported him because he was taking on the police and the police did not like that. I am not a proponent of open borders. However we cannot use immigration laws to suppress dissent.

  11. Desis are definitely very ‘concentrated’ in Somerset-Middlesex counties of NJ, so even though the total population may rank 5th, I wouldn’t be surprised if the density of desis there ranks 1st, especially in terms of percent of total population

    From 2000 census, top 10 counties in the descending order of (sa/total)*100 are :

    (sa=south asian= indian+bangladeshi+pakistani+sri lankan)

    1)Sutter, CA (sa pop=7,914 percent=10.03) 2)Middlese, NJ (sa pop=61,485 percent=8.2) 3)Queens, NY (sa pop=164,636 percent=7.84) 4)Fort Bend, TX (sa pop=16,941 percent=4.78) 5)Santa Clara,CA (sa pop=73,840 percent=4.39) 6)Hudson, NJ (sa pop=26,045 percent=4.28) 7)DuPage, IL (sa pop=36,213 percent=4.01) 8)Somerset, NJ (sa pop=11,569 percent=3.89) 9)Fairfax, VA (sa pop=36,547 percent=3.77) 10)Alameda,CA (sa pop=50,327 percent=3.49)

    So Middlesex finishes second and Somerset is ninth. But since Sutter county has a very small total population compared to others in top 10, we can conceivably ignore it and declare Middlesex county as the desiest. Other notable concentrations are – Queens (remarkably high percentage for a huge south asian population) and bay area – Santa Clara (Sunnyvale and San Jose primarily) and Alameda (east bay: Fremont) together have close to 125K south asians at a decent concentration of close to 4%.

    The top three cities with significant population of south asians and highest percentages are Edison (18%), Fremont (11%) and Sunnyvale (10.5%). There are smaller cities with better percentages, but the total population in those cities are neglibile compared to these three.

    Of the 10 metropolitan areas with largest south asian populations, New York–Northern New Jersey–Long Island, NY–NJ–CT–PA CMSA handily beats everyone else in both total and percentages (548,390 south asians at 2.6%). SF–Oakland–San Jose area is second in both (168,716 at 2.4)

  12. Thanks Dipanjan. According to what I’ve read, in NJ, desis (specifically Indians) are the 4th largest group overall (after white, blacks, and hispanics) but supposedly the fastest growing group (even more than hispanics) in RELATIVE terms. In ABSOLUTE terms, yes hispanics are the fastest growing.

  13. Jai:

    You’re probably looking at this thread and laughing at what we Americans consider to be high percentages of desis (at least compared to the UK).

  14. This article cites 2005 state census data which claims a surge in NJ (and the rest of the nation’s) Indian-American population.

    In New Jersey, the population grew by 35 percent from 170,000 in 2000 to 230,000 in 2005, according to the latest data. The state’s Asian population jumped by about 34 percent – from 480,000 in 2000 to 620,000 in 2005. The roughly 8.5 million people in New Jersey remain among the nation’s most diverse populations, according to the Northjersey.com website. “If I go to Jersey City, the waterfront, I see many youngsters who work in New York City and it almost looks like Bombay (Mumbai) to me,” Vidya Gupta, an Indian American professor of pediatrics at New York Medical College, told the website.

    I don’t believe there is another state in the US (correct me if I’m wrong) where the actual population of desis exceeds 2 percent. And I believe this is a clue to anti-Indian racism (though not the whole story).

  15. In any case, it’s not a precise term but frat boy mentality implies an aggressive, arrogant, hard-partying, athletic, intellectually underdeveloped, lacking in empathy kind of a person. And often racist (again, there are desi and black and other minority participants in the fraternity scene).

    Amitabh: so you’re making the generalization that white frat boys are racist, etc. Isn’t that a tad unfair to them?

  16. Hey-hey!!!!!

    Desis are definitely very ‘concentrated’ in Somerset-Middlesex counties of NJ, so even though the total population may rank 5th, I wouldn’t be surprised if the density of desis there ranks 1st, especially in terms of percent of total population From 2000 census, top 10 counties in the descending order of (sa/total)*100 are :

    You are a SA numbers NERD like ME!!!!!! Dipanjan, what do you do for a living that you were able to whip out those numbers so quick? You didn’t cite, so were those your own numbers? Here’s a press release that was published recently on national growth.

    I’m scheming, I’m scheming – I could use a number cruncher like you….

  17. Amitabh,

    You’re probably looking at this thread and laughing

    Well, now I am ;) Okay, I’m just kidding.

    at what we Americans consider to be high percentages of desis (at least compared to the UK).

    Depends on your perspective, I guess. 2% is better than 0%, 10% is better than 2% and so on…..

    From the transatlantic point of view, the US will not have a “high percentage of desis” until there are towns/cities whose South Asian populations constitute at least 30% of the total, a South Asian language ends up being the 2nd most widely-spoken tongue in the country, younger non-desis living in these areas are familiar with Hindi films and some of the major actors/actresses, every major nationwide news channel has at least two South Asian anchors, 2nd-Gen desis do not go berserk at the idea of other desis dating white people (and the depiction of such matters is commonplace in the national media & a non-issue from the perspective of the majority white population), and everyone is basically shagging everyone else regardless of their ethnicity.

    So I think you guys have a little work to do. Get cracking !

  18. Amitabh says:

    “As an aside, I encourage any desi visiting NYC area to stop by Edison/Iselin, specifically the fabled Oak Tree Road…especially on the weekend. Although it’s no comparison to my beloved Southall, it is a pretty amazing place…great restaurants, music/video/grocery stores, more jewelry shops than you could ever imagine, Bollywood dance classes, and just great atmosphere overall…I love having it nearby.”

    Must add honorable mention for the delicious 50 cent samosas they sell at that little indoor food court, the name of which currently escapes me…yummmmmmmmm…

    But “stop by” is a little misleading. Heck, it’ll take a half hour alone just to find a parking spot!

  19. I just moved in to the Hilltop Apartments a month ago and I hear a lot of police activity and some thing happening when I reach home late in the night. I will dig through and find out what is happening ! It is funny that I see the blog to know whatz happening in my backyard!