TEHRAN (IQNA) – A US Muslim woman has won $85,000 in damages from the City of Long Beach after her religious head scarf was forcibly removed by a police officer in 2015, according to a release from the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which filed the federal lawsuit on her behalf.
Powell, who was 33 years old at the time, was a passenger in a vehicle when it
was pulled over by Long Beach police on May 5, 2015. During the stop, police
found three outstanding misdemeanor warrants, resulting in her arrest. When she
was being booked her hijab was removed and placed in a property bag, the Long
Beach Police Department said previously.
to Powell, her hijab was forcibly removed by a male officer in view of other
male officers and dozens of inmates.
forced to spend the entire night exposed in custody and described the
experience as deeply traumatizing,” CAIR-LA stated in the release sent out
made several requests for a female officer to search her, CAIR-LA stated
previously. Officers informed her she was not allowed to wear a hijab and that
they were allowed to touch a woman.
outstanding warrants have been since cleared.
"We commend Kirsty Powell for choosing to defend her right to
religious freedom and taking action,” said CAIR-LA Civil Rights Attorney Marwa
Rifahie in a statement. "In addition to compensating Kirsty for the humiliation
and distress she suffered, this decision also 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.”
Beach City Council voted on Tuesday to approve the settlement, according to
CAIR-LA, which also stated that the LBPD amended its policy in November, after
the suit was filed, to accommodate religious head coverings for persons in
did the right thing by admitting that stripping Kirsty’s hijab stripped her of
her religious freedom,” stated co-counsel Carey Shenkman, a constitutional
lawyer based in New York. "I hope more cities follow this example by adopting
policies to ensure the constitutional rights of Muslims are protected.”
Bernardino and Orange counties have both adopted policies protecting religious
headwear in detention following similar lawsuits settled in 2018 and 2013,
respectively, according to CAIR-LA.