A bizarre incident unfolded in an Ohio town west of Cleveland on June 29, showing just how pathetic some Americans’ fear of Muslims has become. A man was accused of pledging allegiance to ISIS, apparently because he was dressed like an Arab, and was talking on a cell phone.
The incident started when a woman who identified herself as the sister of the desk clerk at the Fairfield Inn in Avon, Ohio, called local police. She told the dispatcher that her sister had said there was a man in the lobby, talking on multiple disposable cell phones, and pledging allegiance to ISIS. Immediately after that call, a man identifying himself as the clerk’s father called and told a similar story.
Police were sent to the Fairfield Inn, and what unfolded was captured, start to finish, on one officer’s body cam. Acting only on one person’s word, Avon police arrived at the hotel looking like they were going to war. As they pulled up at the hotel they spotted the man who was exiting the front doors. He was dressed in a “dishdash,” also known as a “gandoora” or “tawb,” the traditional long white robe worn by men in some Arab countries, and a headdress, or keffiyah.
Officers emerge from their vehicles, at least two of them carrying assault weapons, and order the man to the ground. He complies, and he is placed in handcuffs. The man does not seem to have a good command of English, but he tells officers that what was happening “is not good.” One officer sneeringly replies that no, it is not good. The man tries to explain that he is a tourist, but he doesn’t seem to know enough English to fully communicate with them.
They place the man in a police vehicle, and one officer begins going through his wallet, removing everything in it. After several minutes they try to talk to the man, who tells them in halting English to call a friend of his, who he says works on the Cleveland police force.
Finally, after some time, they decide that the man is no threat. But while they are trying to sort out exactly what had happened, he collapses to the ground. It would later be discovered that the man was a businessman from the United Arab Emirates who was in the U.S. for treatment of a heart ailment at the Cleveland Clinic. Everyone involved was very fortunate that he didn’t have a serious medical issue thanks to the incident.
According to Cleveland’s WEWS, while this was taking place outside officers were talking to the desk clerk, where they learned that the man never said anything about ISIS, or made any kind of threats. Police later said the whole thing was a result of miscommunication. The man says that he has yet to receive an apology from the clerk, the hotel or the police over what happened.
Both police and the desk clerk are under fire for the incident, although some comments on the WEWS story place all the blame on the Islamophobic paranoia of the desk clerk. Still, did police have to handle the man and his property the way they did, given that he complied with their orders and was not found to be carrying any kind of weapon?
Here are two videos of the incident. The first is a news report from WEWS. The second one features the 911 calls and the full body cam footage captured by an Avon police officer.
Featured image via video screen capture