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Ray Hanania Columns

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Attached is my exclusive subscriber-only column which addresses the recent incident in which Oak Lawn police captured an Arab and Muslim teenager who had drugs and was carrying a dangerous weapon. His supporters say he is the victim of "racial profiling" and unjustly beaten. Police said they used force after he ran to prevent him from accessing the suspected loaded weapon that was in his satchel around his neck and shoulder.

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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Subscriber Only Column: Oak Lawn Police justified in rough handling of Arab Muslim teen to prevent him from reaching weapon



By Ray Hanania

Last week, police in Oak Lawn, a suburb of Chicago in Illinois stopped a vehicle for a minor traffic infraction. During the stop, police smelled marijuana. 

There were two teenagers in the car, both were Arab and Muslim.

The police did what they are supposed to do. They asked each teenager to get out of the car. The first teen complied and was frisked. He stood by not complaining or causing problems. He wasn't harassed, beaten or profiled.

The second teenager, Hadi Abuatelah, 17, however, who was in the back seat with a satchel strapped around his neck and shoulder, got out and then immediately ran before the police could check his bag.

The bag appeared to have a weapon in it, which explains why he ran.

Police chased Abuatelah several blocks through restaurant drive-thrus and parking lots looking back at the police as he ran.

Finally, police caught up, and then brought him to the ground. Abuatelah continued to clasp the satchel that was now under his stomach, refusing to let go. Police punched his arms and his head to force him to let go of what they suspected was a weapon. The police tased him. Abuatelah finally let go of the bag and he was handcuffed.

Police found inside the bag a Raven Arms P2 25 25 Calibre Semi Automatic weapon with three rounds of ammunition and a THC Vape cartridge which he later admitted to smoking.

Instead of asking why a teenager in their community was in a car with drugs or why he had a dangerous weapon, a group of activists who have been at the front lines of protests against alleged "police brutality" involving armed Black and Hispanic youth, organized a protest and accused the Oak Lawn police of being racist.

The "poor boy" was injured by the police and had to be taken to a hospital, along with one other police officer who was injured in the chase while struggling with the resistant teen.


One of the restaurants the boy ran past was a popular shawarma fast food establishment. Several customers including Arabs and Muslims came out to video record the incident of the suspect on the ground being punched by the police.

Using only that short video clip, the activists called a press conference the next morning featuring an official of the Council of American Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim American lawyer, the mother of the teenager, and members of the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) who all insisted the beating was "another example" of "police brutality" and "racist targeting" of a minority, this time an Arab Muslim.

CAIR's Ahmad Rehab released a statement, "Regardless of the alleged infraction that led to the arrest, the video clearly shows a restrained teenager in submission, not resisting, being brutally beaten by three officers without justification. As a result, he has sustained internal bleeding to the head, a broken nose, and other bodily injuries, all fully avoidable. The issue here is excessive force and police brutality. Something we are seeing again and again and again.”

"Infraction?" Abuatelah had a weapon! Resisting arrest is not an "infraction." Using drugs is not an "infraction." Having a weapon is not an "infraction."

The video shows only part of what happened. Abuatelah only became submissive as a result of being punched and then let go of the weapons bag.

Oak Lawn Police Chief Daniel Vittorio smartly decided that one social media video that only showed one aspect of the incident should not be allowed to spin the truth and facts to blame the police for the incident.

If Abuatelah had listened to police -- he wasn't harassed when he was stopped before he ran -- nothing would have happened to him. Maybe a charge of unlawful possession of a weapon and misdemeanor drug use.

Vittorio held his own press conference explaining police were concerned that Abuatelah may have had a weapon in the bag and was trying to reach in it when he was finally caught.

At first, everyone on social media attacked police. But when they learned that Abuatelah had a weapon in his possession, that sentiment changed, except for the activists, of course, who continue to assert the police stopped them because of "racial profiling" -- two kids in a stopped car smoking drugs.

I spoke to one witness, an Arab who was in the drive-thru of the Hakuna Matata Shawarma Restaurant ordering her food when Abuatelah ran past the car with what she recognized as a weapons bag.

"It looked like a bag that you would hold a weapon and ammunition in," she told me clearly frightened of what might be happening. "A police officer ran right passed me in the car through the drive-thru and they caught the teenager."

She wanted to remain anonymous, rightly fearing the bullying that often comes from the angry activists in the Arab and Muslim community when someone disagrees with them. These activists always complain about being victims but often are the worst and cruelest at making others victims.

The Arab and Muslim community has been denouncing the police on social media, playing down that he had a weapon, as CAIR also did. The family filed a lawsuit against the police. Abuatelah was charged with one count of felony aggravated unlawful use of a weapon, one count of felony resisting arrest, two counts of misdemeanor resisting arrest and one count of possession of cannabis by a passenger in a motor vehicle.

But, what about that weapon? What is a 17-year-old doing in a car with drugs and a 25 mm semi-automatic weapon with three live rounds of ammunition, driving around in the Chicagoland where gun violence is at its highest levels?
Why would Abuatelah run, except to hide the weapon? Nothing happened to the other teenager. He wasn't beaten. So the assertion that these teens were racially targeted and abused flies out as fast as Abuatelah ran from the police and is unreasonable.

Imagine if Texas police had seen teenager Salvador Ramos carrying weapons his weapons-filled satchel on May 24 and they had grabbed him for suspicion. If Ramos had resisted, and police had beat him to release the weapons, the activists would be denouncing the police, too, and defending Ramos as as victim of police brutality. Maybe even racial profiling, filing a Federal Lawsuit.

But in the case of Ramos, he wasn't seen carrying his weapons bag until he got to Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas where he massacred 19 young children and killed two teachers. Police didn't act fast enough and are being blamed for allowing the massacre to take so many lives.

Why did Abuatelah have an illegal weapon, and what was he planning to do with it? And what about his parents and their responsibilities in all of this?

Those are questions some in the Arab and Muslim community don't want to address. They'd rather denounce police as racists and bullies. Abuatelah needs help, not for his superficial wounds that are being exaggerated, but for his life decisions. Clearly, however, he won't get help from the activists.

There are many other issues the community can rally around to fight that involve legitimate cases of racism, rather than to exploit a high profile case simply to score headlines.

Click this link to view the video of the entire event:

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Click here to read about Mayor Lightfoot's failed and 
racist approach to street gang violence in Chicago

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