Three Muslim women forced to remove hijabs for mug shots get $180G payout from city
New York City will pay a total of $180,000 to three Muslim women who were forced to take off their hijabs for mug shots, the Daily News has learned.
Settlements in the three cases were filed Monday in Brooklyn federal court, with the lawsuits spurring new NYPD procedures on photographing people donning religious head coverings.
The cases date back as far as 2012, when a Brooklyn high school girl identified as “G.E.” was arrested after a scuffle with two girls she thought were spreading rumors about her.
The criminal case was dismissed, but it was the initial mug shots that mattered in the civil rights case that followed.
G.E. was taken to the 62nd Precinct, which covers such neighborhoods as Bensonhurst, Mapleton and Bath Beach, where police told her she’d have to take off her hijab.
The teen refused, and was taken to a private room where a female officer shot the photo outside the presence of any men.
But at Brooklyn central booking, police told her there weren’t any female officers to do the picture and the camera was in a fixed spot, so it couldn’t be privately taken elsewhere.
G.E. said a male officer took her picture without her hijab.
Her suit said she felt “exposed, violated and distraught” being forced to take off her headscarf for some 20 minutes as male police and prisoners watched.
Court rulings show in March 2015, police issued an order that changed the rules when people refused to take off religious head coverings. Arresting officers had to tell the person they had the choice of getting a private photo — without the head covering, and with an officer of the same gender.
In 2015 and 2016, G.E.’s lawyer, Tahanie Aboushi, filed two similar cases — both for incidents that happened after the new police rules on head coverings.
One woman said she had to remove her veil at Brooklyn Central Booking. Another said her hijab was removed at the scene of her arrest, where she was knocked unconscious in an altercation with a neighbor over a parking spot.
At Brooklyn Central Booking, police denied the woman’s request for a female photographer.
Last year, judges let parts of the three cases go ahead. All three settled for $60,000 apiece, according to the Law Department.
On Tuesday, Aboushi told the Daily News the police department sent out additional directives in December 2017 on religious headwear. She credited the city and police, saying the end result was a “collaborative” effort and a “great first step.”
“We did our best to establish good precedent,” said Aboushi, noting several religions have headwear requirements.
“On the one hand, it gives officers guidance, and on the other hand, it protects the exercise of religious freedom,” Aboushi said.
A Law Department rep said “the resolution of these matters were in the best interest of all parties involved.”
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