A young Muslim woman is suing Chicago police who decided she was a "lone wolf" terrorist because she wore a hijab, or headscarf, and was walking briskly out of a city subway station on the Fourth of July last year while wearing a backpack.
Here is the surveillance video of what happened to her that day in 2015. Warning: Video may be disturbing for some viewers.
Itemad “Angel” Al Matar says police officers violated her civil rights by yanking off her her headscarf and veil, which are worn for cultural/religious reasons, arresting her on the subway station stairs, then later strip-searching at a police station.
A federal lawsuit was filed in Chicago Thursday on Al-Matar's behalf. She is a student from Saudi Arabia who lives in Chicago, and told reporters she was in a hurry to catch her train on the 4th of July of 2015, because so wanted to get home quickly and break her Ramadan fast.
"Several (officers) ran up the stairs and grabbed the Plaintiff and threw her down upon the stair landing, then pulling at her and ripping off her hijab," the lawsuit says.
CBS Chicago reports the abuse didn't end there.
"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.
Security-camera video made public shows several minutes of the arrest in the subway. Several officers can be seen pushing through a crowd on a stairway to reach Al-Matar, but soon move out of view of the camera.
The fact that Al-Matar was wearing a headscarf, known as a hijab, and the face veil, called a niqab, "was the impetus behind the actions" of the officers, the court filing alleges. In a statement Thursday, Phil Robertson, a lawyer for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, and a co-counsel in the civil case, argued that "blatant xenophobia, Islamophobia, and racial profiling" underpinned the officers' actions.
A police report filed the night of the incident says officers had been "on high alert of terrorist activity" on the Fourth of July holiday when they spotted Al-Matar exhibiting what they believed was "suspicious behavior," including walking at "a brisk pace, in a determined manner." It also says officers saw what they thought could be "incendiary devices" around her ankles and were also suspicious of her backpack, which was clutched to her chest.
"(Officers) believed that subject might be a lone wolf suicide bomber and decided to attempt to take subject into custody," it says.
Itemid Al Matar Lawsuit [Scribd]