Press Releases

CAIR-MN Asks DOE to Investigate Video of Altercation Between Teacher, Student

MN-school-fight(MINNEAPOLIS, MN, 5/28/13) — The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) today called on the U.S. Department of Education to investigate a violent altercation in a classroom between a teacher and Somali student.

SEE: Anoka-Hennepin Investigating Classroom Altercation (MPR)

Concerned Somali community members reported the incident to CAIR-MN after two videos were posted online. In the first video, a student is seen approaching the Somali student and violently attacking him after a verbal altercation. In the second video, a teacher appears to grab the Somali student by the throat, choke him, and twist his limbs. In that video, a student watching the ordeal is heard saying to the teacher, “That’s enough, Mr. Hall” in an attempt to stop him.

Video I and Video II

“Due to the egregious nature of this incident, we are asking the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a swift, open and independent investigation,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. “A determination must be made as to whether the teacher followed protocol and if he used excessive force during this violent altercation.”

Saroya said that Minnesota law states that any “unreasonable interference with a child’s breathing” cannot be considered reasonable force.

SEE: Minn. Stat 626.556 Sub. 2 (g) (5)

Last year, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) reached a federal agreement with Owatonna and St. Cloud Public Schools after CAIR-MN asked for an investigation into the harassment of Somali Muslim students.

SEE: CAIR-MN Asks DOE to Address Racial Tensions in Minn. Schools 

In 2012, the Anoka-Hennepin School District settled two lawsuits and a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the bullying of students after six district students committed suicide in less than two years.

SEE: Anoka-Hennepin School District Settles Lawsuits Over Gay Bullying, Gender Neutral Policy

In February 2013, CAIR-MN called on Minneapolis South High School to utilize mediation and multi-cultural competency training to help remedy race-related issues at the school after a brawl reportedly between Somali and African-American students erupted at the school.

SEE: Food Fight Erupts Into Melee (Star Trib)

In January 2013, African-American students reported feeling unsafe at Washburn High School after a hate incident involving a dark-skinned doll that was hung by a string at the school.

SEE: Activists want disclosure in Mpls. Washburn High doll incident

CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

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CONTACT: CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya, 612-327-6700, lsaroya@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

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