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Comments by YACCS
Saturday, May 20, 2006

This is ridiculous

If he had only held Bush's hand

UPDATED: My husband was racially profiled at the New School Graduation
by jelmattrawy
Sat May 20, 2006 at 11:04:17 AM PDT

Good news! My husband's two advisors, both prominent scholars and professors at the New School, are planning to write a letter to President Kerrey, the Board of the school, and the student government expressing their outrage over what happened to my husband Khaled yesterday. They will outline how it is especially outrageous that Mr. Kerrey was praising free speech and the right to dissent in the ceremony, while just outside, my husband was standing unable to come in because of an orange piece of paper that he had not read aloud to anyone outside the ceremony and that was forcibly taken from him, a piece of paper that expressed his right to free speech, that other students had brought inside and used to do so. They recognized the fact that my husband was targeted because of his race, and further that the entire claim made by Mr. Kerrey about the nature of Mr. McCain's visit was false.

My husband was carrying one of his professor's bags due to an injury that his professor had, and his professor was very upset to learn that his own property had been searched, taken from Khaled, picked up, and left outside the Garden. They are demanding nothing less than an apology from the guards involved, a full investigation into the incident, an apology from the New School, and an all expense paid trip for a special recognition ceremony for my husband at graduation next year. This will certainly stir the waters at the school and continue the heat on Kerrey. We are encouraged. This is not just about my husband, but about the right to free speech, objection to an imposed viewpoint that violates the values of a group of people, racism, and disrcimination in a post 9-11 BushCo world. Thanks for your support! What happened to us at the New School Graduation May 19 2006

I am posting this diary at the request of several Dailykos members and because of the desire to let people know what happened to me and my husband on his graduation day at Madison Square Garden, yesterday, May 19.

My husband was supposed to be celebrating 6 years of long, hard, groundbreaking work that cost us countless hours of time, effort, and money. He received his Ph.D. in Economics from the New School with honors. We spent a nice morning celebrating at the NSSR graduation ceremony and then having lunch with his faculty advisors and family. My husband took a taxi with his friend and two faculty advisors over to Madison Square Garden and I followed with my two young children.

When I arrived, my husband was standing outside Madison Square Garden by the student entrance. He called to me and said, "They won't let me in." He explained what happened as he had entered the building with his friend. A protestor who was standing near the student entrance handing out orange papers that read, "John McCain Does Not Speak For Me," had showed my husband where to enter the security line and handed him a paper. My husband folded the paper in his hand and carried it in with his bags. As he was directed to place the bags on the tables to be searched, he felt someone grab the orange paper out of his hand, scratching his face in the process. Surprised, he turned to the guard who did that and asked him why he grabbed the paper instead of asking him for it. The guard said, "If you want to go to the ceremony, you cannot bring this paper in." Meanwhile, students were passing my husband carrying the orange papers that you can see in the video of the ceremony and going inside.

My husband said, " What if that paper contained personal information? I will keep it folded up inside my front pocket and not show it." The guard checked my husband's bags, gave him a ticket for them, and said to my husband, "Here you go, jerk." My husband said to him, "Please talk politely, I am not a jerk." The chief of security, John Coirciari, came over to my husband and the guard and defended the guard. He said, "Get out of here, jerk, you're not going in." He then called several police officers who came over, picked up my husband's bags, and escorted him outside.

When I arrived, I asked to speak to the head of security. I said," My husband would like to go to his graduation ceremony. If he gives you the paper, can he come in?" He said, "No. He is not allowed in." I asked him for his name and position. He gave me his name and said," I gave you my name, rank, and serial number. That's all the information I am giving you." I left with my husband.

Why was he targeted and no one else? Simply because he is Arab. We have endured countless instances of harassment by police since 2001. Sometimes, my husband brushes it off, sometimes he tries to reason with the police and ask what he did wrong, which was nothing. In this case, he was merely trying to understand what was happening and why he was being treated so rudely. Not only did the guard take his private property away without asking him, he did so for no reason. The use of racial profiling by security and police is a common practice here in New York. Not only is it ineffective, it creates tension and strife. Why would my husband, who is going into his graduation ceremony accompanied by two faculty advisors, pose any threat?

Over 1800 people were arrested at the Republican National Convention in 2004 where Mr. McCain was also a guest speaker. Out of those 1800, 90% of the arrests were dismissed once they went to trial due to video evidence and eyewitness testimony. That is simply ridiculous and intolerable. The bullying of New Yorkers by police and security who are simply exercising their rights must be stopped. We were here on September 11. We lived through the horror and shock. We understood the need for order and added security. But, the way that the Bush administration went about combating the security threats in New York and around the nation was ineffective and racist. Our phones have been tapped since November 2001. We know this, and we told our family that this was happening. Why am I, a Caucasian American woman, treated differently than my husband by police and security? The only time I am not is when I am peacefully exercising my right to protest and free speech in this city, which I have done many times.

The irony is that we had met and posed for pictures with Bob Kerrey at the morning ceremony. Mr. Kerrey had asked my husband to contact him to discuss the possibility of doing some work together. I have those pictures and I have the ticket of admittance that my husband got after they searched his bags.

Many of you have responded in support of our situation, which we deeply appreciate. I am sorry that my husband missed one of the most important events of his life. I am glad that John McCain was booed and that students protested at the ceremony. I do not think he should have been invited to speak at the New School, nor should he have accepted the invitation. When one of the students is not allowed into their own graduation simply because of the color of their skin, something is very wrong with the system.

We are in the process of contacting a lawyer to proceed with filing a complaint against the head of security for Madison Square Garden. Mr. Kerrey will also receive a letter stating what happened.

Thank you for your support and advice.

Ah, imagine being followed around stores and having some stores not open their doors for you. Or empty cabs pass you by.

Welcome to non-white America.

Of course, this is totally fucked up and wrong. I think Kerrey deserves some e-mails about this.

posted by Steve @ 7:55:00 PM

7:55:00 PM

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