Arrests in Playland Incident Could Lead to Lawsuits – WNYC – September 6, 2011

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

WNYC

By Arun Venugopal

The 15 people arrested at Rye Playland last week are considering legal action against Westchester County, according to their lawyer. The arrests took place after Muslim attendees at the amusement park became irate when women in their group were told they would not be able to go on rides if they were wearing headscarves.

Attorney Lamis Jamal Deek, who represents all 15 men and women, said litigation is “a real possibility, especially if we don’t see any reasonableness on the part of the District Attorney’s office” in dismissing the charges against her clients.

“And considering the circumstances, especially in light of the fact that it was not until the arrival of the police department and law enforcement officials that the situation worsened and became physical, we hope that the district attorney’s office would do its best to resolve this in the most just and fair and timely manner as possible, and we look forward to that resolution,” Deek said.

Calls to the Westchester County District Attorney’s office after office hours were not answered.

However, county officials addressed the incident during a public meeting on Tuesday, which was streamed online. One official noted that “the police response was appropriate” and argued that “the situation escalated and was rapidly deteriorating” when 25 members of the Westchester Police Department and “several” officers from the Rye Police Department arrived on the scene.

Another person told commissioners conducting the meeting that all details related to the Playland incident could not be discussed, given the threat of litigation.

The incident drew widespread attention, taking place on Eid, at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The Muslim American Society organized the August 30 outing, which drew around 3,000 Muslim attendees.

Parks officials note that they had communicated Playland’s policy forbidding headgear to organizers, well before the outing, but organizers admit that they failed to pass on the information to all attendees. Initially, parks officials said, Muslim attendees grew angry at M.A.S. organizers before turning on park rangers and police officers who arrived on the scene. However, attendees said they were not acting unlawfully, and that the police response was unnecessarily aggressive.

According to Deek, three of the 15 people arrested were women, including one minor.

 

4 suspects in Playland melee plead not guilty – LoHud – September 6, 2011

The following article was written by Andrew Klappholz and published at LoHud.com:

September 6, 2011 – RYE — Four Muslims accused of disorderly conduct during a melee at Playland last week pleaded not guilty Tuesday in local court.

“The allegations didn’t make up disorderly conduct,” said their lawyer, Gideon Oliver, who specializes in group arrests and civil rights issues.

The suspects — Dalia Nazzal, 18, and Noor Jaber, 45, of Spring Valley; and Entisar Ali, 34, and Fuad Alnajjar, 37, of Brooklyn — are among 15 Muslims arrested in the Aug. 30 incident, which was sparked by Playland’s safety policy prohibiting headgear , including traditional Muslim head scarves, from major rides.

About 30 to 40 visitors, who were among about 3,000 in a group organized by the Muslim American Society of New York, scuffled with authorities after complaining because they couldn’t go on the rides.

Most face minor violations, but two are charged with felony assault.

The rest are due in court later this month.

Oliver said his clients weren’t looking for trouble and were simply caught up in the melee. Along with co-counsel Lamis Deek, he might also represent others from the group. Both lawyers are based in Manhattan.

They have until Sept. 20 to file motions, and Oliver said he would move to have the charges dismissed. Prosecutors will have until Oct. 4 to respond, and the defendants can reply to the response by Oct. 11.

On Oct. 25, City Judge Joseph Latwin will hold a control hearing at which he might rule on the motions.

All three female defendants wore their traditional hijab head scarves in court Tuesday.

Nazzal and Jaber were called during the morning session, but didn’t appear until the afternoon — a move that seemed to irk the judge.

“I’m not going to be inclined to do that on a regular basis,” Latwin said. “I’m on the bench at 9. We start at 9.”

Deek said the delay was because it was Nazzal’s first day of class at high school.