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SouthtownStar: Tinley Park woman accused of hate crime

By Becky Schlikerman

http://www.southtownstar.com/news/1892917,111909tparrest.article

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southtown_starA Tinley Park bank teller has been charged with a hate crime, accused of pulling on a Muslim woman’s headscarf while the two shopped in a grocery store, police said.

Valerie Kenney, of 16524 Evergreen Ave., was arrested Tuesday night over the Nov. 7 confrontation with Amal Abusumayah, police said.

Her bail was set Wednesday at $5,000, Cook County state’s attorney’s office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said, and the Cook County Jail’s Web site showed she was no longer in custody later in the day.

The charge against Kenney is a Class 4 felony, which carries a possible penalty of one to three years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Abusumayah, 28, said she was shopping at Jewel, 17117 S. Harlem Ave., when Kenney walked up to her and shouted, “The guy that did the Texas shooting, he wasn’t American, and he was from the Middle East.”

Abusumayah, a stay-at-home mother of four young girls, ignored the reference to the Fort Hood shootings, but moments later, when Abusumayah was checking out, police said Kenney walked up behind her and pulled on Abusumayah’s hijab, the headscarf some Muslim women wear in public.

“I was shaken up,” Abusumayah said last week. “This is my dignity, and this is my religion.”

Abusumayah, a native of Berwyn, did not want to comment Wednesday on Kenney’s arrest.

Ahmed Rehab, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he’s pleased with the arrest.

“I’m happy to see the Tinley Park Police Department is not one where hate gets a free pass,” he said. “No group of Americans is left behind when it comes to equality.”

Rehab said he’s still calling on the FBI to investigate the incident.

An FBI spokeswoman said she could not comment on the incident, but police sources said the FBI requested the Tinley Park police report on the incident.

This wasn’t the only hate crime reported in Tinley Park just days after Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan allegedly shot and killed 13 people and injured 29 more at Fort Hood, Texas.

A family woke Nov. 8 to find derogatory terms about Arabs written on their home in the 8800 block of 172nd Street.

Police are still investigating that incident, Cmdr. Pat McCain said.

Meanwhile, Kenney is scheduled to appear in court next on Dec. 3, Simonton said.

Attempts to reach Kenney by phone and at her home were unsuccessful Wednesday.

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