On Saturday, a couple and their three children (who asked that their identities, which are stated in the police report, remain private for their safety) were driving on Highway I-85 in Atlanta when a white Ford Ranger pickup truck carrying two men pulled up alongside the car.
According to a Dekalb County police report sent to Yahoo Lifestyle, the male passenger made eye contact with the wife, who wore a hijab, and made obscene hand gestures toward her while giving her the middle finger. The wife started recording the pickup truck, including its license plate number.
“We’ll call the police and report them because they’re doing dangerous stuff in traffic,” the father says on the YouTube video posted Tuesday. “He blocked our way …for no reason. What they’re doing is harassment. It’s profanity.”
According to the police report, the pickup truck swerved into the family’s lane, forcing them to brake abruptly. The male passenger then flipped off the family while sticking out his tongue and laughing.
Attorney Edward Ahmed Mitchell of CAIR tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the driver of the pickup truck began the harassment after making eye contact with the mother. “The identifying factor was that she was wearing a hijab,” he says. “We use common sense to conclude that the motivation was anti-Muslim bigotry.”
However, Georgia doesn’t have state hate crime laws (neither do South Carolina, Arkansas, Wyoming, and Indiana), so if the men are located, prosecuted and found guilty, their charge would likely be aggressive driving, with no mention of bigotry.
“Victims tend to not report hate crimes; police aren’t required to track them; and state statistics aren’t sent to the FBI,” Mitchell tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “It sends a moral message that hate crimes are acceptable.”
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