Muslim Woman Sues California Police For Forcibly Removing Her Headscarf
May 03, 2016 01:46 AM EDT
A Muslim woman filed a lawsuit against a California police department after a male police officer allegedly took her headscarf off from her while being arrested. The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed Friday by the complainant, who was taken in custody on outstanding warrants.
Kirsty Powell sued the city and the Long Beach police department for forcibly removing her hijab or headscarf during an arrest, according to Fox News. She and her husband were pulled over by the authorities in May last year as they were driving home. Powell is suing the defendants for violating her religious beliefs as well for "forcing her to remain exposed overnight" in front of other male officers and inmates.
The Middle East Eye reported that she was arrested on two outstanding warrants, in connection to her sister's alleged used of fake identity and a shoplifting incident on a grocery store back in the year 2002. The plaintiff, who is African-American, claimed the forced removal of her hijab happened while she was being booked at the police station.
Officers told her wearing the headscarf was prohibited in prison and that police were "allowed to touch women". Her lawsuit detailed that she suffered "extreme shame, humiliation, mental anguish and emotional distress" as a result of her experience.
Powell added she puts on her hijab whenever she goes out in the public or whenever there are men outside her relatives, in accordance to Muslim beliefs, Laist cited. The lawsuit was filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations or CAIR. She repeatedly asked a female officer to remove it for her, however, the officer declined. She was then forced to take her booking photo without wearing her headscarf.
Her hijab was returned the next day after her husband bailed her out. Yalda Satar, a lawyer from CAIR-LA Civil Rights, said "The manner in which Mrs. Powell was treated by LBPD officers was simply a show of authority over a woman of color who was unable to protect herself, and is another example of the type of discrimination faced by women who wear a hijab."
The Long Beach Police Department and city officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The lawsuit also seeks unspecified damages and a jury trial.