Four young protesters pleaded guilty to charges from an immigration rights rally in Arlington Heights last October. Tuesday’s negotiated court settlement does not settle the claim of one of the protesters that her religious rights were violated.
The four appeared in the Cook County Circuit Court branch in Rolling Meadows. They pleaded guilty to battery charges, but charges of resisting arrest were dropped.
The three women and one man will be under court supervision for a year and have to perform thirty days of community service. If there are no offenses during the next year they will not have criminal records.
” this is a day of justice and victory. This little misdemeanor case in this little courthouse in this little corner of Cook County has had national, if not international attention, because of the courage of these young people to fight racism and fight the Minutemen,” said Jed Stone, defense attorney.
“We feel it’s a fair disposition based on the fact they have a lack of criminal background. This case was highly politicized beyond what it should have been,” said Lance Northcutt, Assistant State’s Attorney.
The four immigration rights supporters were protesting against the minutemen group when they were arrested last fall. The minutemen oppose illegal immigration and voluntarily work to catch those trying to enter the United States from Mexico.
One of the four local protesters, Rehana Khan, a Muslim woman, has charged that Arlington Heights police violated her rights when she was forced to remove her head scarf at the police station.
“I think that was a violation of my rights, my religious rights, and they claim that it was for security reasons. But they don’t take off other people’s clothes after they arrest them for security reasons. I don’t think that’s why they did it to me,” said Rehana Khan.
Khan said her personal dispute was not resolved in court because it occurred after her arrest. There has been no decision to pursue it further. The Arlington Heights Village prosecutor disputes the allegations of police misconduct.
Muslim community calls for police sensitivity training
Some members of Islamic community say that when police pulled off the headscarf they stripped Khan of her civil rights. They are calling for sensitivity training for police.
“At the moment they ripped off the scarf, she felt violated and embarrassed and if they had made a mockery of her on purpose. She had clearly stated that they could not remove the head scarf. That it was an integral part of her clothing and they ripped it off and demeaned it and dismissed it by calling it a fashion statement at the station,” said Christina Abraham, Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“We would like the police department to acknowledge that a violation happened. We want the officers to be disciplined and more importantly than anything else, we want to be assured this will not happen again and the best way for that to happen is to substitute cultural sensitivity training in the police department.,” said Ahmed Rehab, Council on American-Islamic Relations.
“It is not just about Rehana Khan, but about every woman who goes through the airport sand asked to remove her headscarf by officers who may not know it is an integral part of her clothing. It is about every woman who goes into the DMV and is asked to remove the headscarf for the photograph. What society must come to understand as the Muslim population grows and grows is that the headscarf is as integral a part of a woman’s clothing as a shirt, a blouse, a skirt. You wouldn’t ask somebody to remove it unless you really had good reason and willing to take them to the side and have them searched by an officer of the same gender,” said Abraham.
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