Illinois: Arab community fights for Hadi Abuatelah

By Husam Marajda |
August 4, 2022
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Hadi Abuatelah speaking at press conference.
Hadi Abuatelah speaking at press conference. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Oak Lawn, IL - Hadi Abuatelah is a 17-year-old Palestinian youth in Oak Lawn, Illinois. On Thursday, July 28, a cell phone video taken by a Black woman captured the savage beating of Hadi by three white police officers. The video went viral, and the Arab American Action Network (AAAN) immediately called for a protest. 

300 Arab community members and their supporters held a militant rally in front of the Village of Oak Lawn Police Department (OLPD) building that afternoon. OLPD responded by brandishing assault rifles and deploying rooftop snipers to intimidate the protestors. 

Hadi suffered serious injuries from the attack and spent the next five days in the hospital. Chief of Police Daniel Vittorio defended the actions of the three racist officers. He even went on to add that they would have been justified in using “deadly force.” Later on, the Village of Oak Lawn doubled down its support of their officers by saying “compliance with, and respect to law enforcement is the only way we will stop these incidents.”

In the following days of the protests, and while working with the family, AAAN organized a call-in campaign asking Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx to file charges against the officers who assaulted Hadi and violated his civil rights. Calls were also made to Vittorio to fire the officers. 

On Tuesday, August 2, Hadi was released from the Juvenile Detention Center to his family. He came out using a walker because of the injuries he sustained from the assault by OLPD.

Waiting for Hadi to be released, Muhammad Sankari of AAAN said, “Oak Lawn police could have done the right thing and released Hadi into the custody of his parents yesterday. Instead, they decided to punish him further by transferring into the Juvenile Detention Center overnight. They're trying to punish Hadi for the audacity of standing up. We’re here to support Hadi, his family, and all the youth in our community, and we're not going to take this anymore.”

Standing alongside Hadi, his parents, and the family attorney were Frank Chapman, of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, and Bishop Tavis Grant of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.