Police, Arab group at odds over Kroger attack

George Hunter and Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Dearborn — After city police found no evidence a reported attack inside a Kroger store last week was motivated by racial or religious bias, an area advocacy group disputed that conclusion and asked federal officials to investigate.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Michigan chapter “calls on a review of the entire Dearborn police investigation and resubmission to prosecutors based on a new, fair and impartial investigation,” the group said in a press release Friday.

“We ask that the City of Dearborn move aside and allow the federal government to investigate this matter so that future perpetrators will be on notice they can’t allow their hatred to turn into criminal assault that will go unchecked.”

An Arab-American man had told police he was attacked inside the store near Michigan and Greenfield on Feb. 12 by two white men from Taylor who were angry because he was speaking Arabic to his children.

However, Dearborn police said Friday there’s no evidence language or ethnic hatred played a part in the attack.

Police said in the news release they have wrapped up their investigation after interviewing “a number of witnesses” and reviewing “limited” surveillance video.

“At this time there are conflicting reports from eyewitnesses as to who initiated the altercation,” the release read. “Also notable is that certain witnesses who have been active on social media have given reports which contradict the version of events as described by all combatants.”

Fatina Abdrabboh, director of ADC Michigan, said considering the current climate in the country, including the recent slayings of three Muslims in North Carolina, the incident must be properly investigated.

“Our formal request for the FBI to independently investigate is warranted,” she said.

The Dearborn police said the investigation will be forwarded to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office for consideration of possible charges.

“All of the facts have been presented to our law enforcement partners at the federal level and it has been determined that the elements of a hate crime for federal prosecution have not been met in this case,” police said.

A statement Friday from ADC Michigan, which has interviewed the 61-year-old victim and witnesses, alleges the man was in a “nasty brutal assault,” beyond what police described.

“Further, the ‘abusive language’ was nasty racial epithets that occurred not only as the altercation progressed but also were the exact racial reason why the victim was attacked,” ADC Michigan said. “As such, the physical assault at Kroger preceded by the perpetrators lodging words ‘ISIS’ and ‘terrorist’ make the incident nothing short of a hate crime.”

The statement went on to note the Dearborn police release didn’t mention the victim was Arab, partly disabled and with two children at the time.

“What is most relevant is that he was targeted because he is an Arab, a fact he and other independent witnesses have corroborated.”

Police Chief Ronald Haddad said in a statement: “This type of situation could have been totally avoided had cooler heads prevailed. This was an isolated incident that is uncommon at the store in question.”

“The decision by the Mayor and the City of Dearborn to miss an opportunity to send a message that attacks like these will not be tolerated in Dearborn,” ADC Michigan said. “This missed opportunity has resulted in a loss of credibility. Those familiar with the racial history of the city of Dearborn know that many of people of color over the years with far less evidence and for far greater crimes have been charged.”


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