Chicago Community Hearings to be Held on Anniversary of the Patriot Act

Media Advisory
October 16, 2003

Contact: Jonathan Adams, ARC, Tel: 646.502.8843

Chicago Families Protest Increasing Racial Profiling in the Era of the War on Terror: Community Hearings to be Held on Anniversary of the Patriot Act

Chicago, IL—Two public hearings will be held on the increase of racial profiling post 9-11.


Press Conference: Saturday, October 18, 9:15 - 9:45am

Public Hearing 1: Saturday, October 18, 10:00am - 1:00pm
Featuring stories from people who have experienced racial profiling and unfair treatment.
New Covenant Missionary Baptist Church, 740 E. 77th St., (77th & Cottage Grove).

Public Hearing 2: Monday, October. 20, 10:00am - 2:00pm
Featuring testimony from advocates, scholars, invited law enforcement representatives, and targets of racial profiling.
DePaul University’s Egan Urban Center, 243 S. Wabash (9th Floor).

Testimonies (partial list):
    •    A Moroccan man gives first-hand account of detainment
    •    A Pakistani man detained after double parking
    •    A Palestinian man denied medical attention while detained at Special Registration
    •    A Mexican woman to be deported after Operation Tarmac raids
    •    An African American man wrongfully convicted of armed robbery
    •    A Japanese American connects World War II internment to present day conditions.
    •    Scholars and advocates from civil rights, immigrant rights, human rights and social justice organizations, as well as law enforcement representatives

Hearing 1: Barbara Ransby, professor of History and Black Studies at the University of Illinois in Chicago and Executive Director of the Public Square.

Hearing 2: Nancy Bothne, Midwest Regional Director, Amnesty International USA.

Public Truth Commissioners:
    •    Cynthia Soto, Illinois General Assembly member, 4th District (Saturday only)
    •    Rey Colon, Chicago City Council, Chicago Alderman, 35th Ward (Saturday only)
    •    Hayelom Ayele, Chicago Commission on Human Relations Advisory Council on

Immigration and Refugee Affairs:
    •    Kareem Irfan, Chairman of the Council of Islamic Organization of Greater Chicago
    •    Aaron Patterson, Death row inmate who was wrongfully convicted and pardoned
    •    Camille Odeh, Executive Director of the Southwest Youth Collaborative
    •    Jesus Garcia, former Illinios State Senator; Exec. Dir. of Little Village Community

Development Corporation:
    •    Grace Hou, Assistant Secretary of Illinois Department of Human Services

The two hearings are being conducted by a broad-based alliance of immigrant rights, civil rights, human rights and racial justice organizations including: Amnesty International; Applied Research Center; Arab American Action Network; Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago; Coalition of African, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois; and Southwest Youth Collaborative.

On Saturday, October 18th a panel of elected officials and community leaders will hear testimony of racial profiling, discrimination, and harassment two years after the passage of the USA Patriot Act. Targets of racial profiling will share personal accounts of workplace discrimination and job loss, inhumane detention conditions, physical confrontation and harassment by local law enforcement, and profiling of refugee communities. Testifiers will also discuss related experiences of the Japanese American community during World War II.

Then, on Monday, October 20th, there will be a Congressional style hearing, chaired by the Honorable Timothy L. Lewis, Of Counsel at Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP, a national law firm, and former judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. This hearing is the fifth in a national series convened by Amnesty International USA designed to expose race-focused law enforcement practices as wrong, ineffective, and a violation of international human rights laws.

“Witnesses at Amnesty International's previous hearings have testified to the humiliating nature of being wrongly targeted by race-focused law enforcement practices that is destroying families and exploiting minor technicalities in the law to rob people, including US citizens, of their freedoms," said Nancy Bothne, Midwest Regional Director of Amnesty International USA. "Racial profiling is wrong. It is a violation of basic human rights, and it does nothing to keep Americans safe from crime or terrorism."

“Special registration, increased surveillance, workplace discrimination and harassment by law enforcement have reinforced a climate of fear, hatred and racial profiling that tears families apart,” said Hatem Abudayyeh, Director of the Arab American Action Network, “and the U.S. government criminalizes our communities under the pretext of homeland security and foreign policy interests.”

The Council on American Islamic Relations reported that anti-Muslim incidents in the United States increased by 15 percent in 2002.

“It’s discriminatory and counterproductive when local police or federal law enforcement agencies use race or ethnic appearance to predict criminal behavior. This profiling can happen when driving while Black or Brown, flying while Arab or Muslim, or simply living as a new immigrant in the U.S.,” said Josina Morita, of the Applied Research Center, a public policy institute that focuses on issues of race. “The many stories we’ve collected reveal tragic outcomes from racially-biased practices that need to be dismantled,” she added.

“We need forums like the Public Truth to cultivate greater community response to the new national policies that are hurting all of us, but especially immigrants and people of color,” said Saket Soni of the Coalition of African, Asian, European and Latino Immigrants of Illinois. “Public policies and law enforcement practices must guarantee the civil rights, human rights and fair treatment of all people.”

Similar hearings have been held in Los Angeles; Oakland; San Francisco; New York; Tulsa, OK; Santa Clara, CA; and Alameda, CA.

The Applied Research Center is a public policy institute advancing racial justice through research, advocacy and journalism.


Reasserting Justice Toolkit (238text)

The Public's Truth: Los Angeles Full Report (235text)

The Public's Truth: Stories of Racial Profiling and the Attack on Civil Liberties (235btext)

The Public's Truth: Santa Clara (235ctext)