US police 'beating of Arab teenager' sparks anti-racial violence protests

US police 'beating of Arab teenager' sparks anti-racial violence protests
The police beating of a Palestinian American teenager has sparked debate on patterns of law enforcement mistreatment of Arabs and Muslims in the Chicago area, with activists saying they will continue to fight for accountability.
2 min read
Washington, D.C.
03 August, 2022
Activists are determined to hold accountable the police officers who allegedly beat Hadi Abuatelah [Getty]

Activists applauded the release of US-Palestinian teenager Hadi Abuatelah to his family after he was arrested and then allegedly beaten by police during a traffic stop last week.

Despite his release, activists say it will not stop their determination in demanding justice for the 17-year-old who reportedly suffered broken bones following the incident near Chicago. 

"We're committed, not only to securing Hadi’s release but that justice is served. We want a true investigation into the police department," Muhammad Sankari, lead organiser with the Chicago area-based Arab American Action Network, told The New Arab.

He and other activists held a demonstration on Tuesday in front of the juvenile detention centre just prior to Abuatelah's release. 

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"Not only should the officers get fired, but they should face criminal prosecution for violating his rights," said Sankari. 

The video that surfaced last week reportedly shows three white police officers, one of whom worked as a trainer, repeatedly beating Abuatelah after he'd been subdued.

The alleged assault ignited outrage around the world, particularly for the Chicago area's Arab and Muslim communities, many of whom are talking about their own experiences of mistreatment by law enforcement in light of this recent incident. 

"There’s deep-seated racism in southwest [of Chicago]. Offices didn't see him as a human being when they looked at Hadi, and they took in out on him with police brutality," Sankari said.  

Last week's incident appears to reflect a larger trend of misconduct by law enforcement in the Arab and Muslim communities in the Chicago area.  

An AAAN report published in May found that so-called "Suspicious Activity Reports" essentially criminalised Arabs and Muslims by tracking their everyday activities, often without cause.