Posted by Hind Omar on June 17, 2016 in Blog

Community ally Sakira Cook stopped by the Arab American Institute on May 27 to talk with our interns about the fight to advance civil liberties. “I really like how she talked about anti Arab and anti Muslim discrimination. It’s personal for me because my boyfriend is Muslim and he travels a lot for work and he has a significant fear of the lack of repercussions for TSA agents’ unjust practices” said Hannah Locop, AAI’s Government Relations Intern. Cook serves as legal counsel at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and for the Leadership Conference’s Education Fund. 

As part of her presentation she detailed what constitutes racial profiling and the work she is doing to enforce guidelines that will hold government agencies accountable. “I love that she talked about the process of teaching TSA agents about racial profiling. I was surprised at how long of a process it is, how little they know, and that there are no penalties for their assumptions,” Locop said.

Cook explained the specific ways law enforcement racially profiles on a local, state, and federal level and the important initiatives being taken to stop it. Natalie Nisco-Frank, AAI’s Communications Intern, commented, “I was really inspired by Ms. Cook’s message and the work she and the LCEF and LCCHR are doing. Given that many police murders, deportations and civil rights violations start out as traffic or routine stops, it is so crucial that we have individuals and groups out there fighting against racial profiling.” Cook also spoke about our individual rights and steps that can be taken on an individual level to help change racial profiling.  She cited an app called  FlyRights, developed by the Sikh Coalition. It allows travelers to immediately report instances of discrimination by TSA agents to promote accountability. 

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