California to pay $85000 to Muslim woman over forcibly removing hijab

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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.

The police department has a duty to protect all people who are in their custodial care, and one of the policies that protects inmates is that certain items are not allowed to be retained by a prisoner while in custody.

A Muslim woman based in Long Beach, California has been paid a N31.1 million ($85,000) settlement after a police officer forcefully removed her hijab.

NAIJ.com gathered that Powell was arrested during a traffic stop on outstanding warrants. Ms Powell was arrested after the police found a warrant under her name for a shoplifting incident, the CNN reported. Powell made several requests for a female officer to search her and was denied requests to continue wearing her hijab in custody. Powell spent the night in prison without her headscarf.

Powell did not receive her hijab back until she was released from jail 24 hours later. She filed a lawsuit in April 2016 and claimed the city's police violated her 1st Amendment rights and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.

The lawsuit also stated that Powell requested that police deploy a female to the scene because she said: "physical contact must be done by a woman".

"The lawsuit states Powell was "forced to appear in a publicly available booking photo without her religious headwear", as a result of the foregoing deprivations of the free exercise of her religion, Kirsty Powell suffered severe discomfort, humiliation, and emotional distress". Under the new policy, female officers can remove a female inmate's religious head covering "when necessary" for the officer's safety, Long Beach assistant city attorney Monte Machit said.

The suit caused the Long Beach police to change its policies.

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