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Woman speaks out after alleged Islamic hate crime

Posted at 7:39 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 19:39:45-05

LANSING, Mich. — A Muslim woman in Jackson is speaking out after she claims she was attacked because of her religion while walking her dog.

Yasirah Nelson was walking down North Street near Edgewood in her neighborhood when she says she heard what sounded like gunshots.

"It was infuriating and it was also pretty scary at the same time because I thought someone was shooting at me for the sake of me being Muslim and just so existing. I'm from Jackson. I never experienced anything like this. I never thought I would experience anything like this," said Nelson.

She was wearing her hijab and said she heard someone yell Muslim expletives.

"I was actually very frightened. I was on the verge of crying when I called 9-1-1 and the operator calmed me down and she talked with me all the way back to my house," said Nelson.

Jackson Police responded immediately to the incident on Feb. 15.

Director of Police and Fire Elmer Hitt told News 10 those "pops" were fireworks and the people they found in the house where it happened were 13-year-old boys.

"Any ethnic group, or racial group, or religion that may be threatened in any way, we take that serious regardless of what that may be. We are taking this seriously. I feel we have taken the proper steps and the proper investigation was conducted that day to verify exactly what had transpired, and again, it is now in the prosecutor's hands to review," said Hitt.

Nelson is calling for those teens to be charged with a hate crime.

"It is a hate crime. They tried to intimidate me, they tried to frighten me, they terrorized me," said Nelson.

She's also demanding an apology from the boys and their mothers.

"Frankly, I don't care about their age because this is a serious matter and they need to learn their lesson," said Nelson.

Her attorney, Amy Doukoure with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MI) says they will fight for justice in the criminal justice system.

"We have a system in which juvenile offenders are dealt with in a manner that is different from adult offenders. We're not asking that they be charged as an adult but we are asking that these children have some consequences for their actions," said Doukoure.

Doukoure says since 2016, their office has seen an uptick in calls of hate crimes and Islamaphobia.

The Jackson Police investigation is complete and the case is now in the hands of the Jackson County Prosecutor.

Prosecutor Jerry Jarzynka says his office just received the documents they need and is reviewing them to make a decision on potential charges. He says he should have an update by Thursday

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