Somali group seeks independent probe into Champlin Park headlock - KMSP-TV

Video of teacher headlock at Champlin Park prompts investigation request

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The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN) is bringing attention to an incident that occurred between a teacher and 14-year-old Somali student at Champlin Park High School.

CAIR-MN has called on the U.S. Department of Education to respond to the incident, which was captured in two YouTube videos. The first video shows Somali student Camaar Abdul-Kadir and another student in a physical fight after a verbal altercation. A second video shows a teacher grabbing Camaar, twisting his limbs and placing him in a headlock atop a desk.

Abdul-Kadir's mother told FOX 9 News last week that her son was bullied by the student who confronted him in the first video and was acting in self-defense.
"Due to the egregious nature of this incident, we are asking the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a swift, open and independent investigation," said CAIR-MN Executive Director Lori Saroya. "A determination must be made as to whether the teacher followed protocol and if he used excessive force during this violent altercation."

Saroya said that Minnesota law states that any "unreasonable interference with a child's breathing" cannot be considered reasonable force.

Anoka-Hennepin School District spokeswoman Mary Olson said the teacher's goal was clear: To protect the other students and to protect himself.

"This was a class of about 34 students and he was concerned that it could get out of hand, so that's why he did what he did," Olson said.

The district said it investigated the teacher, who is still teaching.


A school board meeting on Tuesday night may decide the next step in the case, and various Somali and African-American community leaders met with school administrators for about an hour on Tuesday afternoon -- but they didn't leave happy.

"We came here today for justice, and justice is not what we got today," Mohamed Farah told FOX 9 News. "We came today, before the officials of this school, to question what happened, and we've received no information."

The first video shows an unidentified student ask Abdul-Kadir what he had done with something before attacking him. The shop class teacher soon starts pulling them apart, eventually telling both to freeze.

The second video shows the teacher trying to restrain Abdul-Kadir, but it's unclear why. While the teen could be seen starting toward the teacher before he was put into a headlock, family members say the boy couldn't breathe. They also said they believe the teacher's actions were racist and they are calling for him to be fired.

While Abdul-Kadir's mother did not want to comment on this story personally, the community groups helping her insist it is important for an outside organization to conduct an investigation into the matter.

"We want an independent investigation," Farah said. "Based on what they've told us, the investigation is being led by the officials of this school."

Olson said the superintendent has pledged to speak on the matter at the school board meeting Tuesday night.

"I don't know if the board will make a decision immediately, but [the superintendent] promised to bring it forward to the board tonight," she said.

PAST COVERAGE: Champlin Park teacher holds student in headlock

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