A group of police officers have been accused of profiling and attacking a Muslim woman who was simply trying to catch her train.
Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) surveillance footage shows Itemad “Angel” Almatar being manhandled by five police officers while she was walking up stairs to a train platform last year.
“They threw me to the stairs, and grabbed my bags. They kicked me, hit me, took off my hijab,” she recounted.
She also said the officers grabbed her bag which was filled with food to end her Ramadan fast, according to CBS Chicago.
“They asked me why I put my food inside my bag, why I’m Muslim, why I’m fasting, why I’m wearing these clothes, why I cover my body,” she said.
The harassment didn’t stop at the train station. The officers arrested Almatar and reportedly strip-searched and videographed her. Adding insult to injury, this was all done in front of male officers.
“This is the ultimate horror you can do to a Muslim woman,” said local Muslim community leader Malick Mujahid of the humiliating incident.
Following her arrest, Almatar was charged with reckless conduct and resisting arrest; however, she was found not guilty by a Cook County court on Wednesday.
Her attorneys argued that the officers involved were guilty of profiling and violating Almatar’s rights.
“We know a couple things. There’s a constitution, and the constitution says you can’t just grab people for no reason whatsoever,” said Aaron Goldstein, a supervising attorney with the Cook County Public Defender’s office.
Almatar plans to eventually file a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Islamophobia in the U.S. has reached new heights in recent years as the world is on high alert due to the rise of ISIS.
Civilians and law enforcement alike are allowing fear to cloud their better judgment.
These officers saw a Muslim woman with a bag running through a train station and instantly became suspicious. However, she did nothing to warrant the aggressive behavior they displayed toward her.
Even after searching her bag and learning she was just rushing to catch a train, they still saw fit to arrest her.
The officers’ actions are inexcusable and Almatar has every right to seek justice for the embarrassing ordeal she was made to endure.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters, Morteza Nikoubazl