Family, friends and supporters of Murad Kurdi attended a news conference on Jan. 3 organized by the Arab American Action Network to continue demanding justice and accountability in his case. Mr. Kurdi was hit and killed by a vehicle driven by Leanne Cusack as he stood near his parked car outside his home in June 2023. Photo: Haroon Rajaee

CHICAGO—On January 3, Chicago’s Arab American Action Network and local Palestinian American activists gathered at the Oak Lawn Illinois Police Department for their monthly protest in response to the death of 28-yea-rold Murod Kurdi Mr. Kurdi, who was a Palestinian American, tragically lost his life on June 5, 2023, when he was hit by a vehicle as he stood near his parked car outside his home.

Sadly, several months prior to Mr. Kurdi’s death, he experienced the passing of his father, which led to him becoming sole provider for his mother.

Leanne Cusack, who is White, allegedly admitted to consuming alcohol, speeding, and being on her cellphone at the time of the incident. However, on December 5, 2023, Ms. Cusack was issued a $750 fine for failure to reduce speed to avoid an accident, ordered to complete 30 hours of community service, eight hours of traffic safety school, and a victim impact panel.

In response to the unjust consequences for taking a life, activists not only protested outside the police department, but also attended the Fire and Police Commission meeting inside the department.


While protesting outside, Muhammad Sankari, Arab American Action Network lead organizer said, “Many of us are holding pictures of our late brother Murod whose life was taken away by a driver who decided to get behind a wheel while drinking.

That is a travesty in and of itself, but what makes it even worse is that the Oak Lawn Police Department decided to treat Murod Kurdi’s killer, Leanne Cusack, different than they would anyone else if they would have struck and killed someone with a vehicle after drinking.

“We are asking the State’s Attorney office, Kim Foxx, to review the death of Murod Kurdi and see if any additional charges can be brought against his killer, Leanne Cusack. The failure of the Oak Lawn Police Department to do their job should not be the end of justice in that case,” he said.

Once inside the police department for the meeting, activists turned their chairs around, and sat with their backs facing the commission officers. Each activist who spoke conveyed heartfelt sentiments to Mr. Kurdi’s mother and family, while admonishing the police department.

The commission officers allowed activists to state brief words, however, the questions and statements were not answered nor addressed by any of the commission officers.

The meeting ended with the activists chanting “Murod Kurdi” while the commission officers left the room.

“Last month’s court decision was a slap in the face to the Kurdi family and the entire Arab community of the southwest suburbs of Chicago,” said Nadiah Alyafai, youth organizer with the Arab American Action Network, in a news release.

“But we won’t stop protesting these meetings until the Oak Lawn Police Department faces accountability for allowing Cusack to go home after killing Murod; and until racist cops like O’Donnell, Hollingsworth, and Collins [who viciously beat then-teenager Hadi Abuatelah in 2022, hospitalizing him for a week] are fired and jailed.”

Shawntell Muhammad can be contacted at [email protected].