Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sweet Home Alabama: Morally Superior Judge & Suspicious Black Guys Wearing 'Toboggans'

Defiant Alabama State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore
It would hardly be fair to label every single person in the state of Alabama as politically right of center, but are some folks there taking the state motto "We Defend Our Rights" just a bit too far?
The feisty conservative state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore certainly gets my vote as this week's George Lincoln Rockwell Award winner for his stubborn refusal to abide by the Supreme Court's ruling affirming the right of same sex couples in Alabama to legally marry.

Justice Moore threw the state's court system into confusion by issuing a contradictory directive to Alabama probate judges to refuse to issue marriage licences to same sex couples.

This morning on Fox News (where else?) Moore told host Chris Wallace he had a moral duty to oppose the ruling of the highest court in the nation if they tried to alter "organic law."

His contradiction of the high court's ruling based on his own religious beliefs and personal opposition to members of Alabama's LGBT community having equal rights to marriage, once again places the controversial judge in a position of putting himself above the law.

Moore made headlines back in 2009 as an Etowah County judge when he balked at taking down a 24" by 18" plaque of the Ten Commandments that was mounted on the wall of his court.

When he won a seat on the state Supreme Court, he thumbed his nose at critics (including a state ethics panel...) by having a 4-foot tall monument to the Ten Commandments that weighed over two tons placed in the rotunda of the Supreme Court - in the dead of night.

"Ole' Roy" is not alone in his defiance of the separation of church and state (one of the core principles of the Constitution), many conservatives in the state have rallied around him and the Alabama Ku Klux Klan has publicly endorsed his position, so he's got that going for him.

The moral hypocrisy of preachy self righteous conservatives like Moore never ceases to amaze, they constantly rail against government intrusion and the abstract idea of "Big Government", yet seem obsessed with using the power of the courts and government's legislative reach to restrict the personal private choices of LGBT citizens and women making reproductive decisions for their own health. 

Situational ethics at it's finest.

A remarkable case of police brutality in Alabama also made headlines this past week.

Madison City PD Officer Eric Parker
Madison, Alabama police officer Eric Parker (pictured left) became the target of internal police and FBI investigations after he violently threw a man named Sureshbhai Patel, an Indian citizen visiting the country to help take care of his grandson, down on the ground, partially paralyzing him on Friday February 6th.

Patel's crime? Actually, nothing beyond apparently having dark skin and possibly arousing officer Parker's suspicions that the frail-looking 57 year-old foreigner was some kind of terrorist menacing the neighborhood.
Patel was outside the home of his son Chirag Patel, an engineer who recently purchased a home in a suburban Madison, Alabama neighborhood.

According to a story posted on, a local resident apparently saw Patel taking a morning walk in the neighborhood and called the Madison City Police Department to report a suspicious looking man the caller described as:"...a skinny black guy, he's got a toboggan on, he's really skinny."

Yes, a 'toboggan'.

Now obviously Patel is Indian and therefore Asian and not black; and by 'toboggan' we can only assume the concerned caller was referring to a turban or head covering Patel was wearing on his head in accordance with his beliefs.

When officer Parker and a police trainee named Andrew Slaughter arrived on the scene to confront the "skinny black guy" wearing a "toboggan", they found and approached Patel and tried to question him. But Patel spoke no English, pointing at his son's home and indicating through hand gestures that he was simply walking.

57 year-old Sureshbhai Patel after Officer Parker's assault
When officers tried to search Patel he became defensive and apparently put his hands in his pockets and tried to pull away; so Parker slammed the grandfather to the ground.

In doing so, Parker caused severe injuries to the innocent man's neck, leaving him on the ground unable to move; instead of being arrested Patel was taken to the hospital where he required cervical fusion and still suffers from paralysis to one of his legs.

Last week Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for India's Ministry of External Affairs was quoted in a statement as saying:  
“We are extremely disturbed; this is a matter of concern for us; and India and the US ‒ as open, pluralist societies ‒ need to address these issues and find ways in a mature manner so that these are aberrations, and are not the norm,” 

"Not the norm" is a wish shared by many Americans as excessive and violent physical overreaction by some members of American law enforcement to extremely minor or, in the case of Patel, non-existent crimes is an ongoing problem highlighted in the past year by the tragic deaths of Eric Garner (selling loose cigarettes), 12 year-old child Tamir Rice (playing with a plastic gun) and Akai Gurley in Brooklyn; who was shot simply for walking in the darkened stairwell of his own building because the elevator didn't work.

Hank Sherrod, an attorney retained by the Patel family to file a lawsuit against the Madison City Police Department, hit it on head in a statement he made to the Associated Press: "I think skin color made him more likely to be a victim of police power."

Officer Parker was arrested and released on bail, charged with third-degree assault in the case, which is under investigation; it remains to be seen if Patel will regain the full use of his legs.

In the wake of diplomatic pressure brought by the Indian government, MCPD fired Officer Parker.

In the area of New Jersey where I live (including the apartment complex where I work), there are a number of families from India and Pakistan who live and work in the area.

It's quite common for them to have one or both parents visit, or live with the family to help take care of young children and it's not unusual to drive through upscale neighborhoods and see older Indian or Pakistani people walking in the afternoons or evenings.

What made that resident of the Alabama neighborhood pick up the phone and call the Madison City Police Department when they saw Sureshbhai Patel taking a stroll? What made Officer Parker get so belligerent and physically violent with a 57 year-old foreigner who clearly didn't speak English?

Maybe it's the same kind of cultural zeitgeist that made Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill suggest that recently proposed legislation to restore provisions of the 1965 Voter Rights Act to ensure that Americans are not discriminated against when they exercise their right to cast a vote, should not apply to the state of Alabama.

Despite the fact that the Republican legislators in the state of Alabama quickly passed voter suppression laws almost immediately after the Supreme Courts ruling in Shelby County v. Holder that disenfranchised thousands of mostly black Alabama voters in the 2014 elections last year, in an interview with in Washington, DC recently, Secretary of State Merrill insisted voter suppression was a thing of the past and that people need to "move on."

This despite widespread evidence of intentional voter suppression in the state, like redistricting or the fact that African-American voters in Evergreen, Alabama were systematically photographed by unknown persons as they went to the polls to cast votes in 2014 in a blatant effort at intimidation.

'Sweet Home Alabama' indeed.

1 comment:

DonLoewi said...

This is a good example for white Americans as citizen and police perfectly working together.

Listen to the tape when the caller is speaking to the police and you immediately know it's the typical white racist who is trying to bring trouble to a "black guy" - exactly knowing that the chances for hurting the "black" by the police are high.