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Miami-Dade Corrections Officers Allegedly Removed Woman's Hijab for Mugshot

By Alexi C. Cardona, For Miami New Times, On 22 June 2020, Read Original
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The day Alaa Massri was arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Miami, she had taken on the role of medic and tended to protesters injured during a clash with police.

The 18-year-old Miami Beach resident saw someone struck by a police car during demonstrations on June 10, and when she went to offer help, she was stopped and arrested by Miami police officers.

Massri was booked at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center on charges of battery on law enforcement, resisting an officer with violence, and disorderly conduct. An arrest report alleges that Massri punched an officer in the right bicep when the officer grabbed her to remove her from an intersection where 60 people were protesting.



Omar Saleh, an attorney for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) Florida, says that while he can't speak to Massri's case specifically, he believes the removal of her hijab while in custody is a legal issue.

"It's our belief that the First Amendment bars federal and state governments from having policies which prohibit women from practicing hijab," Saleh tells New Times. "Removing it in the course of an arrest for security purposes and the purpose of taking a booking photo — there's certainly less restrictive means to achieve that than removing it."

"It's something very unfortunate that has happened to [Massri], and she's not the only one," Saleh says. "For Muslim women who are arrested and detained, it's not just having their hijab removed, but their photo being publicized. I can't speak on behalf of women, but from what I've heard, it's just extremely demoralizing for women to have gone through this. It's traumatizing."

Juan Diasgranados, a spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Corrections & Rehabilitation Department, tells New Times that the department has policies to accommodate inmates who wear head coverings for religious reasons and that the agency will investigate what happened to Massri.


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