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Muslim woman sues Ventura County Sheriff's Department for removing her hijab while in custody

A Newbury Park, California, woman is suing the Ventura County Sheriff's department over allegations that deputies tore off her hijab while she was in custody in January 2017. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

A Newbury Park, California, woman sued the Ventura County Sheriff's Department after she alleged that sheriff deputies tore her hijab from her head, KCAL9-TV reported.

What happened?

Jennifer Hyatt, 44, told the TV station that she felt humiliated and “naked” during the incident.

“My hijab was yanked off my head in front of many men, despite my continued requests to wear it,” Hyatt said. “I felt naked, humiliated and ashamed during my entire duration of my custody.”

Hyatt was taken into custody after a domestic situation in January 2017. She alleges that at the time, her civil rights were violated.

She told KCAL-9 that she informed deputies she could not have her head uncovered as a Muslim woman.

Deputies responded to the allegations by saying jail procedures are designed to protect inmates and security at the facility, the report said. The policies are also in place to ensure everything is done “properly and appropriately.”

“I have the right to be a covered Muslim woman,” Hyatt said, “even in jail.”

Hyatt alleges that a deputy told her, “Not in here, you’re not.”

What does the lawsuit say about her religious rights?

Hyatt and her attorneys have filed a federal lawsuit seeking damages for a violation of her civil rights. She also said she wants to make sure no one else has the same experience, the TV station reported.

“The Constitution of the United States guarantees everyone the freedom to practice his or her religion without persecution...and under protection from law enforcement officers. The same officers who failed to protect my rights,” Hyatt said.

How did the Sheriff's Department respond?

Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Eric Buschow said in a statement:

“She was treated with dignity and respect at the jail and out in the field for the initial call. There are policies in place that focus on the safety and well-being of inmates as well as their religious rights.”

Hyatt was held for four hours and during that time, all actions were recorded by officer’s body cameras and security cameras inside the jail, according to deputies.

One last thing…
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