US law enforcement using Palestinian-looking target for active shooter training

US law enforcement using Palestinian-looking target for active shooter training
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
14 September, 2022
When a sheriff's office in North Carolina gave an active shooter training session to middle and high school students, they chose as their mock target what appeared to be a Palestinian with his head wrapped in a keffiyeh.
Screenshot of footage of active shooter training. [Getty]

Law enforcement in North Carolina was found to be using what appeared to be "Palestinian-looking" targets for a school shooting response training.

The images, which were reported last month by the local station WLOS ABC News, showed a target wearing what appeared to be a keffiyeh, a Palestinian headscarf while holding an AK-47-style assault rifle. 

This was an exercise at a public high school on what to do when confronted with an active shooter situation. It was conducted by the Macon County Sheriff's Office at Rosman Middle and Rosman High School "for any kind of active threat," including the "threat of a gunman." 

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The Council on American-Islamic Relations' government affairs department director, Robert McCaw, sent a letter to the Sheriff's office expressing concerns over the stereotypical image of the target. Among their suggestions are to use neutral targets and ones that are not culturally offensive.

"We thank local law enforcement agencies for conducting this training, which is sadly necessary to help protect children in school from the threat of mass shooters," said CAIR's National Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell in a public statement.

"However, the use of this unacceptable and racially charged image in school shooter training reinforces negative, inaccurate stereotypes and endangers students who are Muslim or Arab American," CAIR's statement added.    

In addition to the potentially harmful stereotype of using a Palestinian-looking target, the image itself does not accurately reflect the profile of a typical US mass shooter, who tends to be young, white and male.