Thursday, November 20, 2008
Palestinian, Permanent Resident Of The
United States, Brings Civil Rights Suit Against
14 Yonkers Police Officers And City Of Yonkers
Yonkers Police Department, Out Of Control, Targeting Ethnic Arab Businesses Since 9/11
Last Thursday, Nov. 13, Haifa Tamimi, 39, a single mother of four children, filed papers, a civil rights lawsuit in United States Federal District Court against 14 Yonkers Police officers who, she alleges, over the past seven years, since the September 11, 2001 attacks, have repeatedly harassed her and forcibly curtailed her retail business enterprises while acting under color of law in violation of her rights
as guaranteed under the United States Constitution.
At a press conference held at the of-fices of her attorney, civil rights lawyer Jonathan Lovett, of White Plains, Ms. Tamimi, accompanied by three of her four children, described for reporters how numerous named Yonkers police officers, fully supported by the Amicone Administration and Building Department, have routinely, but unlawfully, harassed, assaulted, fined and damaged her business enterprises in which she has been lawfully engaged since 1997.
Describing the actions of the Yonkers Police, and the City’s Administration as an “exquisitely clear case of ethnic profiling,” Attorney Lovett detailed the unlawful activities carried out against his client, commencing the day after 9/11, when Yonkers police officers arrived at a deli then owned and operated by Tamimi, to inform her that she could no longer remain open 24/7 as most other delis and convenience stores
do, telling her, “You people send your money to terrorists. You people don’t contribute to the City.”
The police, who prior to 9/11 had been frequent customers at her store, following the World Trade Center attack, issued dozens of violations and thousands of dollars in summonses to her. When she questioned why three other restaurants on her street were still open, police told her they were in the Fourth Precinct, and she was in the third.
Tamimi told reporters, “Up until 9/11 my place had been open 10 years, 24 hours a day. I had no keys and no alarm system.” She explained that after being forced to close after midnight, her income “was cut to less than half ”, compelling her to sell off property and stores she had previously acquired, simply to support her family over the last seven years.
The Guardian’s investigation of the Yonkers Police Department’s conduct with respect to ethnic Arab/Muslim merchants in the city since September 11, 2001, has turned up several who have been similarly dealt with, but who, to date, are unwilling to come forward to exercise their Constitutional rights for fear of police department retaliation.