After investigating a man who made “threatening” hand gestures toward a Muslim couple on a Minnesota highway, police say he did not commit a hate crime.
On New Year’s day, the state’s chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) reported that a male driver — wearing a camouflage cloth over his face — had veered too close to a car driven by a Muslim family in Shakopee, making non-specified hand gestures. The family’s mother was sitting in the passenger seat, wearing a hijab.
The mom filmed the truck, which CAIR-MN alleged in a press release bore a Greek phrase on the back window that translates to “Come and take them.” According to Texas Monthly, the phrase is a battle cry from the 1835 Texas Revolution that’s since been frequently used by gun rights groups.
CAIR-MN shared the 45-second video on YouTube. While stopped at a red light, the man sticks his hand out of the driver’s side window and wiggles his fingers. He then peers his head out, making unusual hand gestures at the couple. When the light turns green, he drives off.
Shakopee Police Captain Chris Dellwo told Shakopee Valley News that after police spoke to the truck driver, they “determined that the actions of that driver were not motivated by race or religion and therefore we have no bias/hate crime.”
“While we are confident his actions were not motivated by bias, we are still gathering additional information to determine what, if any, criminal charges may apply,” Dellwo said.
“We have referred the case to the Scott County Attorney’s office for their review to determine what, if any, charges could be pursued,” Dellwo tells Yahoo Lifestyle. A representative of the attorney’s office tells Yahoo Lifestyle that without formal charges, no information about the case can be released.
“All Minnesotans should be able to travel freely with their families without fear of racial or religious intimidation or harassment,” Jaylani Hussein, CAIR-MN executive director, said in a press release. “We urge law enforcement authorities to investigate a possible bias motive for this apparent act of vehicular harassment.” Yahoo Lifestyle could not connect with Hussein for comment.
Last week, CAIR-Dallas reported on a mother and daughter who were told, “Go back to your country,” and the daughter allegedly hit, at an Oklahoma observation deck. The organization said there has been an increase in attacks against American Muslims since the election of President Trump.
In November, a Muslim family in Georgia was harassed on the highway by two men in a truck who flipped them off, made faces and other hand gestures, and then drove into the family’s lane.
Attorney Edward Ahmed Mitchell of CAIR told Yahoo Lifestyle that the men probably picked on the wife’s appearance. “The identifying factor was that she was wearing a hijab,” he said. “We use common sense to conclude that the motivation was anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
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