CHICAGO (CBS) — One minute a Muslim woman was running to catch her train, the next she was tackled by Chicago police officers, and it didn’t end there.
Itemad “Angel” Almatar said she faced more humiliation at the hands of police before being arrested for no reason. CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov has this Original Report.
Almatar’s 4th of July commute home last year ended terrifyingly. CTA surveillance camera video shows her overtaken by five Chicago police officers as she climbed the stairs of the State/Lake station in the Loop.
“They threw me to the stairs, and grabbed my bags. They kicked me, hit me, took off my hijab,” she said.
Almatar said police also grabbed her backpack, which was filled with food to end her Ramadan fast , but officers never told her why.
“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.
Almatar said she was terrified.
“Close to die, actually,” she said.
She thought the people who grabbed her might be thieves, until they arrested her.
“She was strip searched, videographed, and at the same time men were allowed to see her naked. This is the ultimate horror you can do to a Muslim woman,” said Imam Malik Mujahid, a Muslim community leader in Chicago.
Almatar was charged with reckless conduct and resisting arrest, but on Wednesday a Cook County judge found her not guilty. Her attorneys said the police officers are guilty of profiling and violating her rights, perhaps in the name of vigilance.
“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.
In court, prosecutors said police officers first yelled ‘Stop!’ but the video of the incident shows no one turning around in response, even though several other commuters were walking up the stairs with Almatar.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said he would look into the incident and what, if any, action was taken internally.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Almatar said she plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit soon.