Muslim Criminal Awarded $85,000 Because Police Removed Her Hijab in Jail

Muslim Criminal Awarded $85,000 Because Police Removed Her Hijab in Jail

If you're planning on smuggling contraband into jail anytime soon, wearing a hijab might not be a bad idea. If you get caught, just make sure to file a lawsuit.

Kirsty Powell, a black Muslim, was arrested in 2015 on outstanding warrants for car theft, petty theft and resisting arrest. Long Beach Police officers removed her hijab before putting her in a cell with other inmates.

Powell promptly filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that the city had violated her First Amendment rights, as well as the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, a federal law that protects the religious rights of inmates. On Tuesday, she was awarded $85,000 by the City of Long Beach.

From Fox News:

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 declined her request and told Powell to remove her hijab. Powell refused and told them: “that she wears a hijab in accordance with her religious practice and that it is her legal right to wear it,” according to the lawsuit.

After she was booked at the Long Beach police station, officers removed her hijab while in the view of male officers and inmates.

Powell was without her hijab for 24 hours until she was released.

“She was held in the jail overnight, forced to sit in a cell feeling distraught, vulnerable and naked without her headscarf to everyone that passed,” according to the lawsuit. “She cried throughout the ordeal and experienced humiliation when both her religious beliefs and personal integrity were violated. She felt that the male officers and male inmates had seen parts of her body that they should not have seen, according to her religious beliefs.”

California is becoming more inhospitable each day, sinking to new lows in order to accommodate criminals. Can you imagine the ease in which similarly frivolous lawsuits could be filed?

Powell's attorney had this to say:

“There really is no justification for taking off a person’s religious headgear.”
— Marwa Rifahie

Except for the fact that hijabs are perfectly sized to conceal contraband, such as razor blades, drugs, or as seen in previous cases, improvised explosives.

In the wake of the payout, the Long Beach Police Department has undergone some changes as well. From the LA Times:

“After a thorough assessment of our policy, which included reviewing the procedures used by other law enforcement agencies in the region, it was determined an amendment to our policy was necessary,” the department said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “The Long Beach Police Department respects the religious rights and beliefs of all people, and continues to review policy, as law enforcement is an ever-evolving profession.”

Female officers are now required to remove a female inmate’s headscarf, “when necessary for officer safety,” outside the presence of male officers and inmates, said Monte Machit, Long Beach assistant city attorney.

The headscarf is then returned to the inmate.

“In our view, the removal of the hijab by a male officer, in the presence of other males, while consistent with the then-existing Long Beach Police Department policy, may have violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act,” Machit said. “The 9th Circuit [Court] has not specifically weighed in on whether removing the hijab actually violated [the law], but we believed that the existing policy was not consistent with the Act.”

Here's a wild idea — in America, you can practice your religion as freely as you want and the police won't bother you if you don't commit any crimes. Why did Powell not file an additional suit alleging Fourth Amendment violations for imprisoning her as well? Oh right, because she's a criminal.

Voters of California — you chose this for yourselves.

Stay alert. Stay alive.

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