Rights commission plans support for grocer

Wednesday, November 8, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:19 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 13, 2008

Columbia’s Human Rights Commission agreed with a group of religious leaders and peace activists Tuesday night that the City Council ought to make a formal statement demanding that the FBI disclose the findings of its investigation into Columbia grocer Shakir Hamoodi. The Commission decided to ask Hamoodi’s permission before taking official action.

About two dozen religious leaders and peace activists packed a small conference room at the commission’s meeting at the Boone County Health Department building. When one activist, David Finke, asked how many in the audience were there in support of Hamoodi, whose home was raided by FBI agents in September, everyone stood up.

Peace activist Steve Jacobs presented the five commissioners with a draft of a resolution, asking the panel to recommend it to the City Council. After hearing comments from the group and discussing the proposed resolution, the commissioners adopted the proposal, which asks the council to formally announce its wishes that the FBI take the following actions:

  • Speed its investigation of Hamoodi and publicly announce the results
  • Apologize to Hamoodi, his family and the Muslim community and return confiscated property without delay if the investigation results in no charges.

Jacobs said he thinks the gesture will make a difference.

“It’s a symbolic resolution,” Jacobs said. “Whenever you shine a light on the kind of nebulous, legal quasi-police tactics that they use, I think it does raise some questions.”

Commissioner Marie Glaze said the panel would tweak the resolution and ask Hamoodi for his permission to recommend it to the City Council before doing so.

Hamoodi did not attend the meeting and declined to comment on the resolution before the meeting, pointing out that he had nothing to do with its creation. He has declined requests for interviews on several occasions.

Federal agents raided Hamoodi’s home in September, confiscating computers, boxes of equipment and money. Hamoodi owns World Harvest International and Gourmet Foods behind Gerbes on Nifong but has also spoken for and raised money for Detroit-based charity Life for Relief and Development. He was born in Iraq but has lived in the U.S. since 1985.

The Missourian reported Hamoodi was in Detroit meeting with the organization’s CEO about its charity plans for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan when he heard about the raid on his home. Details about the search have been unavailable because the warrant that authorized the raid is sealed.

The Human Rights Commission advises the City Council on matters of discrimination and human rights.

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