CAIR-Chicago civil rights team participate in NLADA Conference

Litigation Director Kevin Vodak and Staff Attorney Rabya Khan participated in a discussion panel titled “Strategic Advocacy for Muslim and Immigrant Communities with Law Enforcement.” The event took place this past Friday at the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) Conference at the Hilton in downtown Chicago.

The NLADA, recently celebrating its centennial anniversary, is among the largest nonprofit associations designed for legal professional organizations to provide legal services to low-income people in America.

Many conferences are held annually and offer training and educational services in local communities that strive to spread equal justice and equality under the law. The conference is a leading factor in professional and leadership development for those in the legal field, contributing substantive legal practice and skills to assist in building educational opportunities.

A presentation headed by Rabya Khan and Kevin Vodak focused on issues within the American Muslim community and how law enforcement was a direct factor.

Khan explained how Muslims, immigrants, and activists may fear immigration consequences or their lack of education on constitutional rights, and law enforcement such as the NYPD, FBI, and ICE are the main agents by using tactics like profiling, mapping and interviews. She stressed the importance of community awareness to fight potential issues facing American Muslims such as obtaining membership lists, tracking religious beliefs, recruiting informants, and broad ongoing investigations.

It was explained that in many cases, police officers with the intent to secure our communities from dangerous criminals, arrest on prejudices and unfair motives, and find a pretext to arrest them to move them through the databases hoping to find illicit activity.

The presentation further outlined strategic advocacy steps on how to combat these issues. Community awareness, education, empowerment, and initiative were among the most important steps for a responsive attorney to take, as well as community involvement in hate crime prosecution and reporting law enforcement abuse.

Additional points made served to educate the community on signs of law enforcement abuse and how they could take a stand against FBI agents att

Rabya Khan has led a series of Know Your Rights training’s for the Chicagoland Muslim community over the past year. She expresses that, if you know your rights, you are less likely to be subject to the abuses of the FBI and law

The National Lawyers Guild (NGU) and American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have many public resources available on knowing your rights for citizens and non-citizens, addressing rights for cases when you are stopped, questioned, or arrested by law enforcement officials.

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