CHICAGO (CN) – The Chicago Transit Authority had a black employee jailed for 7 months on phony allegations of calling in a bomb threat to his own work station, the man says in Federal Court. Bilal Steward says the CTA fabricated the allegations because he is a black Muslim.
Steward says he was jailed in July 2005, shortly after four Muslims allegedly bombed London’s public transportation system.
Steward says he had worked as a train operator at Chicago’s Kimball Brown Line terminal since 2001. In July 2005, he says, an unknown person used a nearby pay phone to call 911 with a threat to blow up the Kimball station. CTA officials insisted it was Steward’s voice on the taped phone call, but Steward says that “one of the managers who claimed he could identify the voice on the tape as (Steward) had not spoken to (him) since 2001 and had never heard his voice on the phone.”
No one was injured and no bomb was found. Steward says he was falsely accused because he was the sole black Muslim employee at that station.
“There were at least eight other CTA employees at the Kimball station when the call was made, and there were usually 20 to 25 people on the platform at the time of day that the call was made,” according to the complaint. “The phone call was never scientifically analyzed, and no surveillance cameras captured the caller’s image.”
Steward says he was unfairly arrested and indicted by a grand jury on charges of “threatening a terrorist attack against mass transportation systems.” The CTA fired him because he “abandoned” his job while he was jailed for 7 months without bond, before being acquitted, Steward says.
Steward demands lost wages and benefits and damages for discrimination.
He is represented by Rima Kapitan of Palos Heights, Ill.