A woman in Long Beach, California, is suing the city, Police Chief Robert Luna, and 6 other officers over an alleged incident which occurred in 2015.
According to the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), which filed the complaint, 33-year-old Kristy Powell contends that her hijab was forcibly removed during a traffic stop.
The Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) reported that the traffic stop took place on May 5, 2015, after officers determined that the car's hydraulic suspension made it unsafe for Powell to drive, according to the Long Beach Post.
Officers also discovered that Powell had three outstanding arrest warrants: one for vehicle theft, one for petty theft, and one for resisting arrest. She was arrested and booked on these warrants, and her bail was set at $36,000.
Powell's complaint states that the LBPD only discovered two warrants for Powell's arrest, one of which supposedly involved Powell's sister falsely using her identity.
At the police station, an arresting officer reportedly removed Powell's hijab and forced her to remain with her head exposed overnight. The filing also states that Powell was forced to have her booking photo taken without a hijab.
CAIR Civil Rights attorney Yalda Satar said the following of Powell's case:
"The actions taken by the Long Beach Police officers were unwarranted and a serious violation of Mrs. Powell’s bodily integrity. The manner in which Mrs. Powell was treated by LBPD officers was simply a show of authority over a woman of color who was unable to protect herself, and is another example of the type of discrimination faced by women who wear a hijab."
In a statement, Powell said:
"I would never want anyone to go through what I felt from this experience, it was horrible. I want my Muslim sisters to always feel comfortable and safe wearing a hijab and to stand up for what's right. We are all human, we all deserve justice."