NYC To Pay $17.5M For Forcing Women To Remove Hijabs For Mug Shots

New York City will pay $17.5 million to settle a class action lawsuit over forcing women to remove hijabs for mug shots, their lawyers and advocates said in a statement on Friday.

More than 3,600 in the class action lawsuit will be eligible for payments of approximately $7,000 to $13,000 nearly four years after the police agreed to change their policy on religious head coverings.

The settlement needs to be approved by the federal judge overseeing the case.

“This is a milestone for New Yorkers’ privacy and religious rights,” said Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the advocacy organization, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project. “The NYPD should never have stripped these religious New Yorkers of their head coverings and dignity. This wasn’t just an assault on their rights but on everything our city claims to believe in.”

On March 16, 2018, Jamilla Clark and Arwa Aziz filed a complaint against the city alleging police made them remove their hijabs for mug shots. The two women became the named plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, which covers arrests that happened between March 16, 2014, and August 23, 2021, in the city.

Clark had been arrested for filing a bogus protective order against her abusive husband, court documents said. She said the NYPD had threatened to prosecute her if she didn’t remove her hijab. Court documents said an NYPD officer took a photo of Clark while she wept and begged to put the coverings back on.

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