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Edison Mayer cleared police brutality against NRI Parikh

Edison, New Jersey, ASug. 09, 2006
Raj Patel

Mayor of Edison, New Jersey, Jun Choi ruled that Michael Dotro acted purely in self-defence when he arrested NRI Rajnikant Parikh on July 4, 2006. He said that there is no charge of any wrongdoing following an investigation.

Mayor Jun Choi and Police Chief George Mieczkowski repeatedly said they weren't aware that immigration agents were planning to arrest the 30-year old liquor store cashier at the protest.

"I can tell you there is no conspiracy," Choi said. "That's be cause the federal government did not give us prior notice of that ar rest or the charges."

Tthe U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency said the ar rest was made with the knowledge and assistance of Edison police.

"We closely cooperated with the department," said ICE spokeswoman Jamie Zuieback. "As we al ways do. Our relationships with local police departments are valuable."

Mieczkowski, though, denied the police department was involved in the arrest.

"We had over 100 people out there," he said. "Do you think we would plan to escalate the situation?"

Zuieback said ICE does not reveal where it gets information on illegal immigrants.

"We act on leads, and we receive information from a variety of sources," she said.

R NRI community holds rally, charging police brutality- one arrested

EDISON, Aug. 03, 2006
Raj Patel

NRI Rajnikant Parikh, 30 in New Jersey has been arrested for taking part in a rally to demand the suspension of a police officer who he claimed had assaulted him at a fireworks display to mark American Independence Day. In this function nearly 800 NRIs had gathered.

Rajnikant was among the 75 protestors in front of the township hall in Edison on Wednesday. As Parikh was speaking at the demonstration, two agents of the US immigration department took him for questioning apparently to establish his legal status in the country.

Officials of the immigration department said there was deportation order against Parikh since 2005."My friend didn't do anything wrong," said Dev Patel, who bailed Parikh out of jail the night he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault of a police officer, resisting arrest, rioting and failure to disperse. "I'm concerned about my friend. He's innocent."

During the rally outside township hall, a group of about 60 Asian-Indian residents were met by a counter-protest of 40 mostly white residents defending the police department

Sweating under the afternoon sun, the competing protesters hurled accusations at one another.

"How many of you are illegals? You must've slid under the border to come here!" yelled LaVonica Ray, who stood with her friends in the rally for the police department. "You're all cockroaches! Go home!"

Angry Indians, holding up signs declaring Indians are nonviolent, loudly chanted, "We want justice!"

"See, 100 percent they are racist, look at the words they are using," said Tony Patel, an Edison resident and construction company owner. Patel pointed to a placard placed across the street that read, "Act like animals, and you will be treated like animals."

"We are not bloody animals!" Patel said, shaking

Mayor Jun Choi and Chief of Police George Mieczkowski addressed the media later in the evening, thanking the patrolmen who provided security for the rally. "In an ironic situation, the Edison Police Department provided security for (the protesters') freedom of speech," Choi said. "We welcome diversity . . . but along with it, mutual respect and a rule of law."

When asked why he did not address the group of protesters, Choi said he was off-site, and meeting with a group demanding the "suspension and jailing" of an Edison police officer was not an effective use of his time.

"This group had a series of demands when there is no evidence (against the police officer) . . . why should I be there?" Choi said. "When the results of the investigation (into the July 4 incident) are clear, we will take action."

Community activist Pradip "Peter" Khothari, who planned the rally, called the timing of Parikh's detention yesterday inappropriate.

"They should not have selected this place," said Khothari, who also demanded the U.S. Attorney's Office probe the July 4 incident. "We are not saying all officers are bad or tainted, but we continue to ask for justice."

Parikh's wife, Julie Patel, said she wants the charges against her husband dropped and for officials to remove Dotro from the police force

Mayor Jun Choi said at a July 13 press conference the investigation would be completed in three weeks.

"He didn't say it would be over three weeks after the incident," said Choi spokesman Jerry Barca.

Kothari, who is president of the Indo-American Cultural Society in Iselin and the owner of a travel agency there, told area newspapers the rally was being planned to protest the delay in the investigation.

But Kothari said he didn't realize the three weeks would be counted from July 13, not July Fourth.
Kothari said that the protest is now being planned simply as a "reminder" that they are waiting for the investigation's conclusion.