A Black Muslim engineer assaulted last month by a dozen young men and women in New York City investigated her own hate crime after police ignored her plight.
“I told myself I wasn’t going to be one of those cases that got abandoned,” Fatoumata Camara, 22, told American news website HuffPost, after the incident on May 10 left her with a broken nose and a head injury.
“I was going to get justice for what happened to me that night,” she said, referring to the incident of which she was able to obtain footage from a security camera of a nearby business.
Bias-motivated assaults have skyrocketed in the U.S., with hijab-donning Black Muslim women under particular risk due to their visibility to would-be attackers.
The New York City Commission on Human Rights found that one in five such women have experienced physical assault in Bronx, according to HuffPost.
Camara said the lack of investigation and indifference of the police motivated her to do the investigative work herself.
New York Police Department (NYPD) reopened her case as a possible hate crime after she submitted evidence from the surveillance video.
Ahmed Mohamed, Camara’s lawyer, said authorities did not take the attack seriously enough.
“We have such a clear case of a hate crime taking place,” said Mohamed, who is also the litigation director at the New York chapter of Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
“There’s clear evidence. Our client not only provided some of this evidence to the detectives, district attorney, but instead of investigating and doing their jobs, the NYPD, the district attorney, decided our client’s life just didn’t matter enough for them to take it seriously,” he said.
CAIR-NY documented a 74% increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes in the state since 2016.
The U.S. saw a 17% rise in hate crimes last year, with Muslims being the target of over 18% of religiously motivated hate crimes.
Deeply shaken by the attitude of the authorities, Camara hopes the police are now able to find the attackers.
“I’m scared to go out by myself now. Because of this incident, I don’t know what’s going to happen to me,” said Camara.
“I just hope this doesn’t happen to somebody else from my community.”