More than half of ‘suspicious activity reports’ targeted Arabs and Muslims in Chicago

Arab community and Muslim organisations are demanding an end to racial profiling after it was revealed that over 50 percent of “suspects” reported to the police, primarily for doing mundane things like texting or taking photos, were described as people of Arab descent in Chicago.

Arab American Action Network (AAAN) obtained 235 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) created by the Illinois State Police (ISP) and the Chicago Police Department (CDP) through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The organisation said more than fifty percent of the people who were reported for “suspicious activities” between 2016 and 2020 were either Muslims or those with an olive skin tone generally associated with the Middle Eastern people.

Chicago Muslim and Arab researchers argue that these fusion centers and reports lead to criminalision of communities of colour, as they have become tools of racial profiling. The law enforcement reports reveal a disturbing pattern of marking Muslims for simply speaking their native language on the phone, such as Arabic or taking photos.

SARs are the documents produced by, “If You See Something, Say Something” – a campaign by the Department of Homeland Security that encourages people to report suspicious activity to their local law enforcement.

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