Saturday, May 22, 2004

If this isn't racial profiling, then what is?

If this can happen here in the open-minded Land of Enchantment, then it can happen anywhere.

Several Muslim men out on a shopping trip, finding it was time for their afternoon prayers, stopped outside Coronado Mall to pray. Little did they know that in John Ashcroft's America, that constitutes a major security threat.
Essa Dalloul, 20, says he was detained by Albuquerque Police Department officers and mall security at Coronado Mall at 6 p.m. Sunday, handcuffed and made to sit on the floor in a public area for almost two hours.

While he was there, police also detained his cousin, brother and five other Arabs and Arab Americans without telling them what the charges were or why they were being held, said Ahmad Assed, Dalloul's attorney.

...Albuquerque police were called by mall security to investigate what they thought to be a suspicious individual. Albuquerque Police Department officers detained Dalloul, checked him out and then let him go, Albuquerque Police Chief Gilbert Gallegos said Friday.

..."I asked them for my ID back because I wanted to leave," Issa said. "The officer said `I've been given information that I have a bunch of terrorists here, so you better sit down.' "

Issa says it is not the first time he's been profiled by authorities. Last year in Bernalillo, he says, police pulled him over for running a stop sign, then took his name and searched his car, scaring his children, who were 7, 6 and 2 years old at the time.

"They had shotguns pointed at my children," Issa said. "Of course my children were scared, and humiliated at seeing their dad handcuffed for no reason."
I happen to know from the people involved that the 'suspicious individuals' the police were investigating were two Muslim men who had stopped to pray in a grassy area outside of the mall. Now do you honestly think mall security would be so concerned, let alone the people who reported this to mall security, if the prayers in question had been Christian ones? Just think what would happen, here in the Catholic Bible Belt, if a person was handcuffed and forced to sit on the floor for 45 minutes if they crossed themselves in public?

Coronado Mall is pretty infamous for kicking people out for the slightest of cultural offences. Myself and a group of my friends were asked to leave a few times in the late 90s for the crime of wearing spikes, chains, and mohawks. (Now that there's a Hot Topic there, such an offence would hardly qualify anymore...)

I would say let's all boycott, but I don't really know anyone who goes to the mall anyway. The only place worth going for would maybe be Borders, and that's in Winrock. Oh well.

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