(PORTLAND, OR, 8/24/18) — The Oregon chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Oregon) today condemned the Portland Police Bureau’s (PPB) failure to file an incident report for a female Muslim victim who had called the department to report targeted harassing and menacing behavior.
The alleged victim, who was wearing an Islamic headscarf (hijab), says she was walking home from Portland State University when a white man in his 60s began following her and then ran up in front of her to give her a middle finger obscene gesture and spit at the ground in front of her.
Witnesses who were in the area immediately came up to aid the victim and make sure she was unharmed.
When the victim called PPB to file a police report about the incident, an officer allegedly told the victim that the bureau would not make a report because the suspect “did not hurt her, did not threaten her with a knife or a gun, and that if the Bureau had to react to people who had gotten their feelings hurt then they would have to arrest everyone in Portland.” The officer also reportedly told the victim that a suspect “can say anything he wants to the victim.”
The victim said she believes she may have been targeted because she was wearing her hijab and because there were other people in the area that the man did not approach. She said, “I really don’t want to take off my headscarf in order to feel more safe.”
CAIR-Oregon Spokesperson Zakir Khan said in a statement:
“Given the history of violent incidents against members of the Muslim community in the Portland area and throughout Oregon, the police should have followed protocol and taken the victim’s report more seriously. The callousness of this officer in dismissing this victim shows the utter disarray that the bureau is in with regard to tolerance of bias-motivated behavior.
“This situation was very debilitating to the victim, who had to miss work because of the trauma of her situation. She was re-traumatized when the officer spoke to her so cruelly. We just met with Mayor Wheeler on Monday to talk to him about the bureau’s failing responses to hate incidents. This problem needs a faster solution. We call on the mayor to pass the reforms that we discussed in our meeting with him. We also demand that the office of the Independent Police Review open an investigation into the officer’s actions. We also recommend that the officer makes a public apology to the victim and undergoes mental health first aid training.”
Earlier this month, CAIR-Oregon helped secure a sentence against a 50-year-old Caucasian male who was convicted of intimidation after he was arrested for his threatening actions against an African-American Muslim couple walking home around East 82nd Avenue in May 2017. The wife wore a Muslim headscarf and the suspect followed them in his pickup truck for several blocks, hurling Islamophobic slurs, and mimicking the shooting of a gun.
One month prior to that 2017 incident, a female Muslim teenager wearing a headscarf and her African-American friend made worldwide headlines when they were harassed on the Portland MAX train by Jeremy Joseph Christian, a Caucasian male wielding a knife against the passengers, killing two victims, and seriously injuring a third when bystanders intervened to prevent the situation.
CAIR-Oregon recommends that the Islamic and immigrant community take extra precautions when walking in public, especially Muslim women and girls who are wearing hijab.
CAIR-Oregon also recommends calling 911 in the case of an emergency and notifying CAIR-Oregon of any hate crime incidents for victim support assistance.
On September 29, 2018, CAIR-Oregon will be hosting an event at the Bilal Masjid in Beaverton entitled, “Islamophobia Workshop: Strategies for Survival” featuring Arjun Sethi, author of American Hate: Survivors Speak Out. For more information, visit the Facebook event page.
The Washington-based Muslim civil rights organization has reported an unprecedented spike in bigotry targeting American Muslims, immigrants and members of other minority groups since the election of Donald Trump as president.
Earlier this year, CAIR released its 2018 Civil Rights Report, “Targeted,” which showed a 17 percent increase in bias-motivated incidents against American Muslims from 2016 to 2017, and a 15 percent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in that same time period.
SEE: 2018 Civil Rights Report: Targeted
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misiÃ³n de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensiÃ³n del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.