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Police and the South Asian Community

9/11 served as a catalyst. Following the tragedy, South Asians were a target for extensive searches, surveillance, and background checks under “the guise of national security” (YWCAllies On A Mission, 2021). Specifically, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities are especially susceptible to profiling and surveillance (YWCAllies On A Mission, 2021). As a result of this invasive surveillance, several people have been deported for negligible reasons and over criminalized, though all of the cases were not specifically kept track of (YWCAllies On A Mission, 2021). So, there is not much data tracking which ethnic groups of the South Asian population specifically have suffered the most consequences during the early 2000s.

The implications this has on the community is fear and mistrust in communities, especially of community policing. Victims of hate crimes or those who were formerly targets for the extensive searchers, will often not trust police due to miscellaneous reasons, some of those being language barriers and mistrust (YWCAllies On A Mission, 2021). However, treatment of South Asians by police depends heavily on class status. The South Asian community is diverse and includes different skin colors, different religious practices, and different presentations (some wear hijabs, turbans, etc.), but it is the socioeconomic factors of the communities that are typically the decisive factors for racial profiling (Voices of Youth, 2019). Class statuses create distinctive differences.

South Asian residents in the upper middle class suburbs are cities are characterized as those who hold onto jewelry or valuable items made out of expensive materials, such as gold and silver (Voices of Youth, 2019). Within this, many South Asian families are victims of crimes like theft. When it comes to relations with the police, upper middle class South Asian families benefit. In many communities on the east coast, police hold meetings for South Asian families to educate them about self-defense methods to prevent them from experiencing theft (Voices of Youth, 2019). A member of the South Asian community expressed their gratitude for the positive police relations, but expressed that this relationship simply would not exist if they were from an economically-disadvantaged area (Voices of Youth, 2019). Based on the present findings, it seems that South Asians, even if they do not experience grievances at the hands of the police, are aware of how others in their community struggle.

Accordingly, certain areas are ones in which South Asians are often profiled. Specifically, South Asians in Queens often fall victim to racial profiling, overpricing, and racially motivated police brutality (Voices of Youth, 2019). In 2019, a serious subway attack against a Bangladeshi man was reported and widely publicized due to extremely slow police response times (Shain, 2019). The founder of Muslim Community Patrol reported that it took forty minutes for a response even though the police station was a mile away (Shain, 2019). Those apart of the patrol report that this is a frequent occurrence; ignorance by the police when Muslim Americans fall victim to assault or hate crimes (Shain, 2019). To cope with the fact that police often fail to help these communities, the Muslim Community Patrol commenced with the permission of NYPD (Shain, 2019). In all, the experience of South Asians with their police really differs and depends on where the community is located and also their class status.

What makes this even more difficult to study is the fact that the Asian identity is incredibly diverse. Researchers sometimes fail to take note of their differing religions, appearances, languages, and cultures (Voices of Youth, 2019). Increasing the frequency of studies of South Asians specifically, rather than generalizing them to the general Asian population, can help society have a grasp on what their total relations are with the police, and that can best help the criminal justice function at its highest efficiency to best serve the community.


List of Sources:


  1. https://www.ywcacolumbus.org/anti-asian-violence-racism-and-policing/

  2. https://www.voicesofyouth.org/blog/south-asians-and-criminal-justice-system

  3. https://www.qchron.com/editions/south/rally-to-protest-cop-response-time/article_ee1f2111-023f-5d8a-a8c4-376b0b0649e3.html

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