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Oak Lawn Arab community demands investigation into police department

By staff

Chicago, IL – Family and supporters of Murod Kurdi packed a Bridgeview Circuit court room, August 8, to demand justice in a case that highlights the racism of the Oak Lawn Police Department.

The case, which was continued to September 18, referenced a speeding ticket issued to Leanne Cusack on June 5, when she struck and killed Murod Kurdi with her car. Cusack had admitted to drinking before getting in her vehicle, but when Oak Lawn Police Department (OLPD) arrived at the scene, they allowed Cusack to leave without alcohol tests or arrest for the death she caused. The next day she was seen drinking at the same bar.

After the crowd of over 100 supporters raised chants for justice, Murod Kurdi’s mother and brother, Fadia Muhamad and Suphi Kurdi, shared their grief at the loss of their family member with the press.

“I want to see justice,” Muhamad said. “There is no parent that should ever have to go through something like this.” She also connected the case to the larger issue of public safety in Oak Lawn, expressing the urgency of accountability that is needed to prevent another tragedy. “If there is no justice, this can and will happen again,” she said. “It's not a matter of if, but a matter of when and who the next victim will be.”

For Murod Kurdi’s family and the Arab community of Oak Lawn, justice means prosecution — by the Cook County State's Attorney's office — of Kurdi’s killer to the full extent of the law. Kurdi’s community also demands that Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul open an independent investigation into the OLPD for its crimes and neglect toward Arab communities and other oppressed nationalities.

In line with the racist stance of OLPD, the court staff at Bridgeview County showed special treatment for Kurdi’s killer, while denying his family and their supporters adequate room to witness the hearing. Court officers let Cusack enter and exit the courtroom through a backdoor to avoid facing the family of the man she killed.

Kurdi’s case comes less than a year after three Oak Lawn police officers beat 17-year-old Hadi Abuatelah within an inch of his life. One of those three is Mark Hollingsworth, who was also one of the officers assigned to review the footage of Kurdi’s killing, though he wasn't at the scene when it happened. In a meeting with Fadia Muhamad, Hollingsworth claimed he saw enough to know that the killer wasn't drunk.

The organized response from the community in Hadi Abuatelah’s case has resulted in Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx bringing charges against Patrick O'Donell, one of the three offending officers.

“The struggle of the Arab community against police crimes in Oak Lawn shows that justice is not handed down by the system,” said Arab American Action Network organizer Muhammad Sankari. “Justice is won by fighting back and demanding it.”

#ChicagoIL #AsianNationalities #RacismInTheCriminalJusticeSystem #PoliceCrimes #MurodKurdi