From KQED’s Mina Kim yesterday: A report on a second Arab-American, Bay Area citizen who was shocked to find a law enforcement GPS device on his car.

From the report:

An Arab-American man in San Rafael–a U.S. citizen and long-time Marin County resident–is accusing police of secretly attaching a GPS tracking device to his car.

That allegation from retired grocery and gas-station owner Abdo Alwareeth stems from a 2008 incident and comes just two weeks after a similar case in the South Bay. That’s where an Arab-American junior college student discovered that a tracking device had been installed on his vehicle by the FBI.

Civil liberties lawyers say they believe there may be numerous other cases of authorities tracking individuals without warrants. But the courts are split on whether a warrant is even needed.

Alwareeth says that he found the device under his car two years ago while taking an auto maintenance class. After he retired, Alwareeth says, he wanted to do community service and signed up to become an in-home care worker in Marin County. The county paid car expenses to staff who took the auto repair class, that included examining the undercarriage of each student’s car.

On October 8, KGO-TV aired an interview with 20-year-old Yasir Afifi, a half-Egyptian, American citizen who also discovered a GPS device under his car and was later visited and questioned by the FBI.

In light of the Juan Williams controversy (Google search provided in case you don’t listen to NPR, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, the conversation in the break room at work, or the random effusions of people on the street), I’m finding these reports especially interesting. Whatever you think about Williams’ comments, or his right to make those comments on-air without getting the axe, it’s at least instructive to hear first-hand the kind of close scrutiny that some Arab Americans who feel perfectly innocent of any crime now live under. And I imagine that it can’t be too pleasant to hear the raw fear of them as a group, which obviously some people do experience, spoken aloud on television.


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor for KQED's daily health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED News Fix.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor