World News

Muslim woman granted $85G after suing California police for removing her hijab

Muslim woman granted $85G after suing California police for removing her hijab

The Council on American-Islamic Relations announced this week that a federal lawsuit filed by the group on behalf of plaintiff Kirsty Powell had been settled, after a vote on Tuesday by the Long Beach City Council. She had explained she wore it as part of her religious beliefs but they still took it off.

According to a report by Instablog, male police officers forcibly removed Kirsty Powell's head covering.

The officers made her take a booking photo without the covering and didn't return it until she was bailed out of jail the next day, court documents say.

In addition to the $85,000 in damages awarded to Powell, the suit "prompted a city-wide policy change by the Long Beach Police Department to ban the practice of forcible removal of the hijab for female arrestees in custody", CAIR-LA Civil Rights Attorney Marwa Rifahie said in the statement.

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According to Arab News, a police officer in Long Beach forcefully removed Powell's hijab in front of other male officers and inmates.

When officers went to arrest Powell, she asked them to deploy a female officer to the incident because "physical contact must be done by a woman", the lawsuit stated. 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. During the arrest, she was told by the officers that she would have to remove her hijab.

Powell contacted CAIR, Council on American-Islamic Relations, following the ordeal. She then filed a lawsuit in 2016 alleging the police department had violated her First Amendment rights and the settlement was approved this week and is to be paid by the local municipal authority.

Now female officers are required to remove the headscarves of female inmates "when necessary for officer safety", and away from male officers and inmates, Long Beach assistant city attorney Monte Machit told the Los Angeles Times.

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