CHICAGO (WLS) --A woman is claiming Chicago police discriminated against her because she was dressed in traditional Muslim clothing including a hijab covering her face. She is filing a federal lawsuit against the six officers involved in her arrest as well as the City of Chicago.
Angel Al Matar stood, 31, quietly during a news conference Thursday. Her head and face were covered in a traditional Muslim hijab. She was dressed in similar fashion a little more than a year ago when CTA security cameras recorded police coming up from behind her on the stairs and taking her into custody.
"She was grabbed from behind and was thrown down to the stairs. Did not know who it was, did not know what was going on. She started questioning, 'Who are you? What are you doing?' and at one point realized it was Chicago police," Gregory Kulis, attorney, said.
Al Matar is a student from Saudi studying English. She had been in the United States for a year when she was arrested. It happened on July 4 when police may have been on high alert looking for suspicious activity.
The police report indicates the arresting officer, "believed that subject might be a lone wolf suicide bomber." But the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) has taken up her case because they say it was blatant discrimination.
"This was unprovoked, unsolicited. There was no basis for this attack other than the way she looked," Ahmed Rehab, CAIR executive director, said.
Police charged her with reckless conduct and resisting arrest. She was acquitted on all counts. Her attorney says it should never have come to that. He is filing a federal civil rights lawsuit claiming police used excessive force and made a false arrest.
"This woman was doing nothing wrong, committed no crimes, no violations of any law, she was falsely attacked, criminally charged and maliciously prosecuted for something she did not do," Kulis said.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said, "While CPD does not comment on pending or proposed litigation our officers work hard each day to investigate suspicious activity and fight crime. We strive to treat all individuals with the highest levels of dignity and respect."
According to the police report, the officers thought she seemed suspicious because there were bulges around her ankles which they thought might have been bombs. It turned out she was wearing ankle weights.