Dearborn Police Brutalize Arab Teens

Following their graduation from Fordson High School, a group of Arab teenagers were celebrating in their school's parking lot. Reports indicate that the teens were spraying shaving cream and throwing eggs. School authorities contacted the Dearborn Police to clear the revelry. When Dearborn Police arrived, they escalated the situation violently, beating and macing the teens, while calling them racial slurs.

Newspaper clipping reads "but leaders of the Arabic community have reported that the teens, and a mother who went to the police station to pick up hers on, said they were subjected to ethnic comments and physical abuse, suffering injuries including a face burned by Mace, bruises, and a leg wound.

Article excerpt from 1990 edition of Dearborn Press and Guide, provided by the Dearborn Historical Museum.

Leaders of the Arab Community filed a civil rights claim on behalf of 14 teens who were injured and arrested in the incident. The FBI investigated and the Dearborn Police Department conducted an internal investigation. Civil rights groups called for a transparent reporting of the results of these investigations, and community review of the Dearborn Police Department.

Newspaper clipping reads: (title)Fordson arrests (body) "we have the right that a fair investigation be fair and published" Samhat added. "We're waiting for the first results of the investigation of the mayor's office. "The next move will be made by our legal counsel". Hamed said that if no civil rights violations or discriminatory actions are found on the part of the police involved in the arrests via the mayor's investigation that there are "other possibilities" for action. One possibility he stated would be community review of the Police Department. "We won't take the rights of our students to be trampled on just as we wouldn't have anybody else's rights trampled on," Hamed said. "They can't just turn around and have things the way they were. There's new players in town. They're the citizens and they are getting involved.

Dearborn Police's actions can be directly traced back to a campaign promise made by late Mayor Guido in his "Let's Talk about the 'Arab Problem'" campaign materials released in 1986. In these materials Guido promises to address the "problem" through vigorous enforcement of nuisance codes. Building off of animosity stoked by former Mayor Hubbard's antiBlack rhetoric, Guido expanded state sanctioned violence to include Arab communities.

In 1989, just one year before the incident, the Detroit news ran a story titled "Echoes of Lebanon war" which detailed the ways in which immigrant Arab children processed their trauma.

"Some flinch when they hear sirens or fire-alarms. Other grab their heads and duck when fireworks go off. Many question authority".

Experts working with the children also indicate "because of the way they have been conditioned by the war, they don't have any long-range goals. In war, you can't guarantee tomorrow. Who knows what's going to happen?"

When Police officers pulled up to the celebrations outside of Fordson they were approaching the older siblings of the children from this article. The students celebrating had lived through the same wars, and experienced the same Traumas.

Knowing the background of these children helps us recognize the added cruelty that occurred in June, 1990. These were not merely teenagers celebrating their graduation. They were survivors of war who suddenly found themselves back under threat.

Dearborn Police have a history of targeting Arab and Black individuals, and have committed acts of brutality against these groups with impunity. It's time to stand up against the violence.