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13 August 2017, 12:41 | Opal Carroll
Muslim Woman Awarded $85,000 After Police Removed Her Hijab AFP
Kirsty Powell, an African-American Muslim, filed the lawsuit in 2016, causing the Long Beach Police Department to change its policy regarding inmates wearing head scarves due to their religion, according to The Los Angeles Times. It was returned when her husband posted her bond, the report said.
The city of Long Beach, California, will pay $85,000 to settle a 2016 lawsuit filed by a Muslim woman after an officer forcibly removed her hijab, or headscarf, when she was in police custody. This was when they took her into custody in 2015.
Powell, who wears the head covering "as part of her religious beliefs", was "forced to spend the entire night exposed in custody and described the experience as deeply traumatising", the rights group said.
During the arrest officers told Powell that she had to remove her hijab. The officers informed her that she was "not allowed to wear her hijab" and that they were "allowed to touch a woman", the lawsuit states.
After Powell's suit was filed, a police spokesperson confirmed that "during the booking process Powell's hijab was removed and placed into her property bag where it was secured".
"She cried throughout the ordeal and experienced humiliation when both her religious beliefs and personal integrity were violated", according to the lawsuit.
The CAIR announced that Powell won the settlement on Thursday, August 10. "I want my Muslim sisters to always feel comfortable and safe wearing a hijab and to stand up for what's right".
Following the suit, the department changed its policies.
Now, it is the police who must remove the veil of a prisoner "when it is necessary for the safety of the officer", and outside the presence of police officers or male prisoners, said Monte Machit, assistant prosecutor of the city of Long Beach, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times. The religious head covering would then be delivered back to the inmate.
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