The main suspect of the bombings that took place Saturday in New York City and New Jersey, Ahmad Rahami, 28, reportedly sued his local police force, mayor and city council for alleged anti-Muslim discrimination.
Rahami’s father, Muhammad Sr., opened a fried chicken restaurant ironically called First American in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 2002. After complaints by local residents were received by Elizabeth law enforcement about rowdy crowds gathering after midnight at the 24-hour restaurant, City Council passed an ordinance forcing First American to close at a reasonable hour, reports The New York Times.
Dean McDermott, an owner of a business near the Rahami establishment, said he found customers of First American loitering and urinating on his property.
“The City Council voted to shut it down at 10 p.m.,” said City Mayor J. Christian Bollwage. “They kept getting complaints from neighbors, it was a distress to people in the neighborhood.”
According to neighbors, the Rahami family did not comply with the new ordinance, leaving law enforcement no choice but to confront the family.
“On one occasion when the police came to force the restaurant to close, one of Mr. Rahami’s older brothers got in a fight with a police officer and was arrested,” notes the Times. “Before the case could be resolved, Mr. McDermott said, the son fled to his home country, Afghanistan.”
In 2011, the Rahami family—including Ahmad, his brother Mohammad and his father Mohammad Sr.—subsequently sued the mayor, City Council and some 20 law enforcement officers for supposed discrimination based on their race and ethnicity, confirmed the city mayor.
The lawsuit states that Elizabeth police officers had a “reckless disregard and deliberate indifference for plaintiff’s constitutional rights of liberty, due process and equal protection” and “embarked on a course to harass, humiliate, retaliate against and force their business to close at 10pm.”
Mayor Bollwage wholly rejected such allegations: “It was neighbor complaints, it had nothing to do with his ethnicity or religion,” he said. “It had to do with noise and people congregating on the streets.”
The lawsuit also claims that locals “racially abused” the Rahamis. Supposedly, McDermott told them that “Muslims don’t belong here,” “Muslims should not have businesses here,” and “Muslims are trouble.”
McDermott fully denies such accusation against him.
“Mohammad Rahami was operating in violation of some local ordinances, he operated way beyond closing time and it became a hangout for kids,” he told The Daily Mail.
“I made complaints about it and he took offense at that. The city took him to court for his violations and then he sued the city, the police officers that were involved and me as well. We won the case,” he said.
“He was supposed to close at 10 p.m., he was staying open illegally until four or five o’clock in the morning,” he added. “He wouldn’t let the kids in there drinking soda use the restroom and tell them to go around the corner so they would come around and use my driveway as a bathroom, that’s what I took the biggest offense at. Other than the lawsuit, I kept away from them.”
“There was a lot of people coming and going from there, I couldn’t tell who was customers and who was family,” he added.
“Ahmad has a long history of grievances with city officials, their local police force and people who lived close to them,” notes The Daily Mail.