Indian American liquor store owner becomes alleged victim of racial profiling

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NYPD Police car with flashing lights (Dreamstime.com)

NEW YORK – Neal Patel, owner of Amherst Wines & Spirits in Massachusetts, recently wrote on the Hadley Police Department’s Facebook page that he had been “pulled over quarterly for highly questionable reasons just because (I) drive a nice car,” according to a MassLive.com report.

Patel, 29, an Indian American, told MassLive.com that he drives a blue BMW, which is readily identifiable to police and thinks he has been a victim to racial profiling.

“I am a law abiding citizen born and raised in the US but a person of color who works every day and provides jobs in the local community through my small business. I have nice things because I work hard. Dont single me out because of this. I remember getting pulled over years ago and being asked by the Hadley PD if I had weapons of mass destruction in the car… WTF is that even a real question that needs to be asked in Hadley?” Patel wrote.

According to MassLive.com, Sgt. Mitchell Kuc responded publicly to Patel’s post, saying the department takes racial profiling allegations seriously and that he should email the department.

“While Mr. Patel’s comment is obviously public, we feel it would be unprofessional of us as an agency to get in to the specifics of Mr. Patel’s police interactions in a public forum,” Kuc wrote, adding that the department did “go ahead and conduct our own review of the matter to ensure legal/policy compliance, and we found that there were no indications that stops were other than for legally justified reasons. We hope that Mr. Patel does reach out to us so that we can speak with him directly of his concerns.”

Patel told MassLive.com that he has been pulled over three times in Hadley this past year and since he doesn’t want “to stir the pot,” he has not contacted Kuc because he is fearful.

Patel was fine the first two times he was pulled over but grew frustrated when he was pulled over the third time for what he told MassLive.com was a minor traffic violation, something he has not encountered in any other community.

Patel told MassLive.com that he wants the police to know that getting pulled over for no reason three times has been frustrating being “young person of color.”

According to MassLive.com, Patel was pulled over the first time for not using his signal when he was trying to avoid hitting a car in front of him and the second time for not using his signal when he said he did as well as another time for not having a front license plate.

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