Calls for justice are mounting after a Palestinian-American teenager was brutally beaten by US Police at a traffic stop last month near Chicago.
On 28 July, a video filmed by a bystander went viral showing two police officers in Oak Lawn, Illinois, on top of the teen, 17-year-old Hadi Abuatelah, beating him before a third officer is seen briefly placing his knee on the child’s head or neck. Hadi is then handcuffed by the officers.
One of the officers claimed he smelled marijuana from the car in which Hadi was riding as a passenger and also alleged he was carrying a gun. The video shows that a gun was found after the beating, but it is not at all clear where it came from.
According to Electronic Intifada (EI), Hadi sustained multiple injuries, including fractures to his pelvis and face, and internal bleeding in his brain. He was transferred to a local hospital in a critical condition and remained there for six days before being released from the hospital and into police custody.
We’re out here at Oak Lawn Police Department to demand #JusticeForHadi, an Arab teenager that was brutally beaten by multiple Oak Lawn police officers. There’s still time to join us and pressure Oak Lawn PD to fire those racist cops! pic.twitter.com/zAWFb5HWIu
— AAAN (@aaanmarkaz) August 17, 2022
On Wednesday, hundreds of supporters and civil rights activists gathered outside the Oak Lawn Police Department, denouncing the police force and calling for accountability over Hadi’s assault.
“If we wait on the Oak Lawn Police Department to do it, nothing would happen,” Frank Chapman, executive director of the National Alliance Against Racism & Political Repression, was quoted as saying by The New Arab. “We’re demanding that the state attorney general take action. If need be, we’ll go all the way to the Department of Justice.”
“In the US we have an upsurge in racism. White supremacists are running rampant and committing all sorts of acts of violence against people of colour. It’s very important for us to come together,” he added.
Despite the sensitivity over the incident, raising concerns of institutional racism and profiling by law enforcement, the Oak Lawn police responded to the demonstration by putting armed officers on rooftops and surrounding protesters with additional officers equipped with military-grade weapons and full SWAT gear, reported EI.
Hadi is due to appear in court on 25 August, however activists are still waiting to find out from the state’s Attorney’s Office whether the three officers will be charged.