(ATLANTA, GA, 8/17/2018) — The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Georgia) today called on the Chatsworth Police Department to immediately drop all charges against Martha Al-Bishara, an 87-year-old Syrian Christian woman who was tased during an encounter with law enforcement on Aug. 10th.
[MEDIA NOTE: CAIR Georgia does NOT represent Ms. Bishara or otherwise speak on behalf of her family.]
In a statement of solidarity with the Al-Bishara family, CAIR-Georgia staff attorney Murtaza Khwaja said:
“Although law enforcement must often make split-second decisions, the notion that a group of officers could not peacefully handle a 87-year-old woman suffering from dementia boggles the mind. Electrocuting anyone with a Taser can be dangerous, but using that device on an 87-year-old woman could have easily been deadly.
“This incident is also troubling because Martha Al-Bishara was reportedly alone on a hill, not posing a threat to anyone. Even the person who called 911 informed the police that she was elderly, unable to move well, carrying a bag, and apparently trying to cut dandelions with a knife.
“In addition to conducting a thorough investigation of this incident, the Chatsworth Police Department should immediately drop all charges against Ms. Al-Bishara. She is an elderly woman suffering from dementia, not a criminal.”
“In light of this and other recent incidents involving law enforcement, including the police shooting of Shukri Ali Said, we once again encourage every Georgia law enforcement agency to mandate agency to mandate body cameras for all of their officers, engage in implicit bias training, and reevaluate ways to peacefully deescalate conflicts with non-responsive individuals, including the elderly and mentally ill.”
CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.
La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.
CONTACT: CAIR-Georgia Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell, 404-285-9530, [email protected]; CAIR-Georgia Staff Attorney Murtaza Khwaja, 404-432-8847, [email protected]