Muslim woman awarded $85,000 after her hijab was forcibly removed by Long Beach police officer

latimes.com | 8/12/2017 | Staff
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The city of Long Beach has agreed to pay $85,000 to settle a federal lawsuit filed by a Muslim woman whose hijab was pulled off by a male officer while she was in police custody.

The settlement, approved Tuesday, concludes the legal battle undertaken by Kirsty Powell, an African American Muslim. Her lawsuit, filed in 2016, prompted the Long Beach Police Department to reverse its policy barring inmates from wearing religious head coverings.

Justification - Person - Headgear - Powell - Attorney

“There really is no justification for taking off a person’s religious headgear,” said Powell’s attorney, Marwa Rifahie, who also works for the Greater Los Angeles Area Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

The case started in May 2015 when Powell and her husband were stopped by two officers because he was driving a lowrider vehicle on Long Beach Boulevard, Rifahie said.

Identification - Information - Officers - Name - Database

She provided them with her identification information. When officers ran her name through their database, they discovered she had three misdemeanor warrants for petty theft, vehicle theft and resisting arrest, police said.

Powell was not aware that a warrant had been issued for a 2002 petty theft offense, her attorney said. The other warrants were issued after Powell’s sister had falsely used her name, according to the federal lawsuit.

Officers - Powell - Husband - Officer - Scene

As officers prepared to arrest Powell, her husband requested that a female officer be called to the scene since physical contact must be done by a woman, the lawsuit contends.

The officers refused and handcuffed Powell, according to the suit. She was then told she would have to remove her hijab.

Powell - Officers - Hijab - Accordance - Practice

Powell told the officers “that she wears a hijab in accordance with her religious practice and that it is her legal right to wear it,” the lawsuit said.

She was driven to the Long Beach police station, where she was booked and stripped of her hijab...
(Excerpt) Read more at: latimes.com
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