| Welcome to Global Village Space

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

NYC to pay $ 17.5 million to resolve lawsuit over forced hijab removal

The incident, which occurred in 2017, prompted them to take legal action, alleging a violation of their First Amendment rights.

New York City has agreed to pay $17.5 million to resolve a lawsuit filed by two Muslim women who were forced to remove their hijabs for mugshots. The case highlights a clash between law enforcement practices and religious freedoms, sparking significant legal and policy changes.

The Lawsuit

Jamilla Clark and Arwa Aziz, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, recounted feeling violated and exposed when police compelled them to remove their hijabs during arrests in Manhattan and Brooklyn. The incident, which occurred in 2017, prompted them to take legal action, alleging a violation of their First Amendment rights. Their attorneys likened the experience to a form of strip-searching, emphasizing the emotional trauma inflicted.

Read More: Suffolk County Police Department facing lawsuit over forceful removal of Hijab

Settlement Terms

The preliminary class action settlement, filed in Manhattan federal court, covers not only the plaintiffs but also more than 3,600 eligible class members. Upon approval by US District Judge Analisa Torres, the payout of $13.1 million will compensate those affected, with individual payments ranging from $7,824 to $13,125. The resolution marks a significant victory for religious freedom and serves as a warning against violating constitutional rights.

Balancing Religious Beliefs and Law Enforcement Needs

As part of the settlement, the New York Police Department (NYPD) agreed in 2020 to revise its policies, allowing individuals to wear religious head coverings during mugshots while ensuring that their faces remain visible. This shift not only addresses the concerns of Muslim women but also extends to other religious communities, including Jews and Sikhs. However, the policy maintains provisions for temporary removal of head coverings in specific circumstances, such as searches for weapons or contraband.

Read More: Transgender inmate serving 55 years for murder in legal battle over hijab

The resolution of this lawsuit has broader implications beyond financial compensation. It signals a commitment to upholding religious rights and underscores the importance of accountability in law enforcement practices. By acknowledging the harm caused and implementing policy reforms, the NYPD seeks to rebuild trust with communities and foster a more inclusive and respectful approach to policing. Moreover, the settlement serves as a precedent for similar cases nationwide, prompting law enforcement agencies to review and revise their protocols to safeguard religious liberties.