Mayor Lightfoot accused of targeting Arab and Muslim stores in gang crackdown
Lightfoot shuts down Arab and Muslims businesses when crimes are committed near them but she doesn’t shutdown stores owned by other racial groups. Last summer, 150 Arab and Muslim stores were closed by a Task Force that based its criteria solely on racism and discrimination. American Arab Chamber officials who confronted the practice accused the mayor of targeting Arabs and Muslims because they do not have strong advocacy organizations like other groups.
By Ray Hanania
The American Arab Chamber of Commerce on Thursday accused Mayor Lori Lightfoot of targeting Arab and Muslim stores in areas of the city with high crime rates.
Chamber officials said the targeting was “racists and discriminatory” and they noted that Lightfoot is blaming the Arabs and Muslims when street gang members killed people because the mayor can’t organize effective counter measures to stop the crime wave.
On Tuesday, May 3, at around 9:30 AM, a suspect believed to be a street gang member ran south on Hamlin Avenue carrying an AK-47 and crossed east on Chicago Avenue to confront and shoot and kill a man who was standing on the city sidewalk who was reading information on his cell phone. The man was pronounced dead.
Arab and Muslim Americans protested that the killing had “absolutely nothing to do” with the Citgo Gas Station and grocery Store at 3759 W. Chicago Ave, where the victim fell after being shot on the edge of the businesses’ parking area and gas pumps. Police asked the owner Ahmad Mohsin if he would close his store for two days to allow police to investigate the shooting, and he complied.
However, on Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Lightfoot ordered the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim Task Force to order the gas station and grocery store to remain closed pending an unscheduled Building Department hearing, causing the owner to lose thousands of dollars in revenue, to temporarily layoff employees, and result in the losses of tens of thousands of dollars in gasoline and retail sales taxes paid to the city, county and state.
“They asked me to close and I voluntarily closed to help the police. We had nothing to do with the shooting. We are law abiding citizens and we assist the police to protect the people in our neighborhood, many of whom are our employees,” Mohsin said at a press conference on Thursday organized by the American Arab Chamber of Commerce.
“On Wednesday, the inspectors came and placed the Notice of Closure on our windows and doors telling us we could not open until a hearing by the city was held and so far no hearing date has been set.”
Mohsin said that the gasoline station pays more than 90 cents in taxes for each gallo sold estimating that the store generates more than $120,000 in revenue mostly to the city, but also to the county and the state.
“This is a pattern that Mayor Lightfoot continues to pursue, to close Arab and Muslim stores to make it seem like she is doing something about the rising crime rate when in fact Mayor Lightfoot is doing nothing. Every citizens in Chicago should be angry with what she is doing,” said American Arab Chamber President Hassan Nijem at a press conference Thursday in front of the Citgo Gas Station.
“We are demanding that Mayor Lightfoot stop targeting Arab and Muslim store owners. Mayor Lightfoot should fight crime not fight Arab and Muslim store owners who are law abiding taxpayers who respect the laws and the communities where they operate.”
Nijem noted that days later, street gang members killed someone in front of a Streeterville Hotel in downtown Chicago.
“Did they close the hotel when the murder took place there? Do they close other businesses when gang violence occurs in front of their stores on city property, sidewalks and streets? No. They only close Arab and Muslims stores because the mayor has decided to pursue a racist policy against street gang violence rather than to find an effective way to. confront crime.”
Members of the Chicago City Council who have spoken out against this discriminatory practice by Mayor Lightfoot have convened a special public forum to be held on Monday, May 9 beginning at 1 PM at the Islamic Community Center of Illinois (ICCI), 6435 W. Belmont Avenue.
The meeting is being hosted by Ald. Gilbert Villegas and supported by several Aldermen including Raymond Lopez and Silvana Tabares.
Mohsin also criticized the city for spreading false claims about his gas station. In response to the news media inquiries, Mayor Lightfoot’s spokesperson falsely claimed that the gas station had 18 citations and violations against it. What the Mayor failed to note was that the 18 violations were issued over a 20 year period, with the last citation given in 2021.
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