by J. J. Quincannon, The Chicago Times
September 13, 2021
CHICAGO — On Monday, a group of Arab and Asian American gas station owners asked the City Council to look into allegations of racial profiling by city inspectors.
According to the business owners and managers, inspectors have shut down many minority-owned businesses for minor violations.
Aysar Abushanad, the manager of Falcon Fuel, said a task force of police and city inspectors came to his gas station on a Friday in late July and shut it down, citing five electrical and safety violations. Three weeks later, Abushanad summoned the inspectors back to the 7800 block of South Western Avenue business to review the corrections, only to be issued additional violations.
Falcon Fuel has been closed for nearly two months, putting a few employees out of work and costing Abushanad thousands of dollars.
Falcon Fuel is not the only minority owned business to be shutdown. According to the American Arab Chamber of Commerce of Chicagoland hundreds of Muslim owned stations have been closed.
Inspectors are allegedly telling some store owners that they are closing their doors to discourage gangs from congregating near the establishments. Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office said in a statement that the city has been working with gas station owners to ensure code compliance. In addition to being given little time and resources to correct violations, the gas station owners claim they have been harassed by inspectors who show “disdain because of our Arab heritage and Muslim religion,” according to the letter.
Owners said they have remained open throughout the pandemic, with many of them contracting the virus or working extra hours to cover for sick employees, and they ask that the city respect their business.