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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Prof. Ravi Shankar's Unlwaful Arrest

The brouhaha over Shah Rukh Khan is very much in the news. Last month Boston cops arrested Prof Gates and now this ~~~t

Nearly a month ago in midtown Manhattan, I was detained and then arrested bythe NYPD on an erroneous warrant, an encounter with explicit racial overtones. My experience is described in fuller detail here:,0,1479.story and I speak about it on radio here:

My very perception of time changed when I spent nearly 36 hours locked upunjustly.That this happened in an environment still buzzing with what happened withProfessor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and in the aftermath of institutionalpolicies like those in the Patriot Act that target those of Asian and Arabdescent is less revealing than the fact that my experience is not uncommon.

An unscientific survey of the nearly 99% of the people I met in CentralBooking found them to be Hispanic, Asian or African-American, many of themincarcerated for charges such as loitering, trespassing or open container. Amuch more scientific study was done by the Rand Corporation and it found that 89% ofall traffic stops by the NYPD in 2006 were of non-whites. Nearly 90%! In theBig Apple. It's mind boggling.

I've even read conspiracy theorists postulate that this movement is to getall brown and black people "in the system," have their identities andfingerprints fixed for cross-index. Perhaps that's reaching, but it's clearthat on top of being shabby police work, racial profiling also violates the4th Amendment which states authorities require probable cause prior to asearch and the 14th Amendment which ensures equal protection for everyoneregardless of race. I'm not prone to political agitation generally but inthis case, I feel compelled to advocate on behalf of all those whom I metthat weekend who have no platform and because I don't want Obama's electionand the idea of a post-racial America to obscure what's happening right infront of our eyes.

Let me know what you think. And what you think I should do.

Ravi ShankarAssociate Professor, Central Connecticut State UniversityEditor of, Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetryfrom Asia, the Middle East & Beyond (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008)


Blogger RB said...

Sue the department. Have info circulated to FBI and NY State Atty Gen office and have SAJA endorse an investigation.

September 22, 2009 8:00 PM  

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