KOK Edit: Your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM)
KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) KOK Edit: your favorite copyeditor since 1984(SM) Katharine O'Moore Klopf

Monday, March 14, 2005

Can Federal Officers Kill Arab Americans at Will?

On Saturday, February 6, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Officer Douglas Bates, off duty and outside his own home in Orange County, California, allegedly shot and killed unarmed 19-year-old Arab American Bassim Chmait—and only now is a grand jury hearing testimony about it. You can bet that if Chmait were white, the legal system would have pounced on Bates immediately.

Eyewitnesses have said that Chmait, a college student, and three friends were walking from a car to a party on Los Alisos Boulevard in Orange County. One of the four picked up a soda can that someone had thrown at the group and tossed it into the street. Bates apparently heard the noise and came out of his apartment wearing a bathrobe and carrying a badge and a gun. The witnesses said that Bates said he was a cop and then pistol-whipped the head of one of Chmait’s friends. Chmait, trying to protect his friend, asked Bates to put down the gun and stood between the officer and the wounded friend. Bates then fatally shot Chmait in the head, said the witnesses.

Bates was not arrested, because the local sheriff’s department said it didn’t see any evidence that he committed a crime. But Chmait’s family has been
pushing for legal action, hiring an attorney and holding vigils in his memory.

The hysteria created by the Bush administration over national security has created an atmosphere in which anyone of Arab descent—and anyone who is assumed to be of Arab descent—is seen as a terrorist, a thug, or at least a threat. Arab Americans are the new blacks in America, guilty until proven innocent. This is outrageous. Legal protection in this country isn’t supposed to be only for whites.

No comments:

Template created by Makeworthy Media