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Muslim woman claims she was ‘attacked’ by police, sues

This still frame, taken from a CTA surveillance video posted on YouTube, shows Itemid Al Matar just before she is grabbed and handcuffed by Chicago police at the State/Lake stop on the Loop L.

A young Muslim woman is suing a group of Chicago Police officers for religious discrimination over her arrest in a CTA stairwell during which the officers allegedly ripped off her hijab.

Itemid “Angel” Al Matar filed her federal lawsuit Thursday against six officers and the city, claiming she also became a victim of CPD’s code of silence when she was falsely arrested at the State and Lake station on the Fourth of July 2015.

Her lawyer, Gregory Kulis, told reporters that police wrongly suspected her of being a “lone-wolf suicide bomber.”

Itemid Al-Matar (center) is suing the city, alleging that Chicago Police officers violated her rights. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times
Itemid Al-Matar (center) is suing the city, alleging that Chicago Police officers violated her rights. | Jon Seidel/Sun-Times

A YouTube video shows several officers tackling Al Matar as she climbed the CTA stairs that day. The arrest blocked the path of other would-be CTA riders, who stood and watched a portion of the arrest.

Al Matar’s lawsuit alleges she saw the group of officers point at her, but she walked past them. She said they grabbed her on the stair landing, “pulling at her and ripping off her hijab.”

A news release from CAIR-Chicago indicates the arrest happened during Ramadan, when Al Matar was “trying to catch the train to go home to break her fast by sunset.” She says she committed no crime, and the press release states she was later found not guilty of resisting arrest and reckless conduct.

A CPD spokesman released a statement Thursday afternoon, saying, “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.”