30 Elected Officials, Community Groups Condemn de Blasio on NYPD ‘Hijab Policy’

(NEW YORK, NY, 3/12/19) – Today, thirty elected officials and community groups announced a joint letter to Mayor de Blasio, condemning his defense of the NYPD’s policy of forcing suspects to remove religious attire, including the hijab. Signatories include Council Members, Make the Road New York, MPower Action, the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (STOP), and others.
SEE: Sign-on Letter
In the letter, signatories call on Mayor de Blasio to “immediately end the NYPD policy of forcing arrestees to remove religious head coverings, including turbans, wigs, hats, and the hijab, when arrested.” They go on to add that it “is wrong for the NYPD to force New Yorkers to violate their faith, and it’s wrong for you, Mayor de Blasio, to defend this policy.”
The statement comes as the city fights a federal class-action lawsuit brought last year by STOP and Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP (ECBA). The lawsuit details the impact of the NYPD’s policy on arrestees, including a Muslim survivor of domestic violence, who was arrested on charges fabricated by her abuser, and then forced by the NYPD to remove the hijab.
SEE: Hijab Removal by New York Police Prompts Lawsuit
Clark v. New York Overview Page
“It is wrong for the NYPD to force New Yorkers to violate their faith, and it’s wrong for Mayor de Blasio to defend this policy,” said STOP Executive Director Albert Fox Cahn. “Mayor de Blasio could end this disgraceful policy right now, with the stroke of a pen, but he’s going to federal court to try to weaken the Constitutional rights of all Americans.  We’re confident that we’ll triumph, but if Mayor de Blasio wins, he’ll only embolden President Trump’s unconstitutional attacks on Muslim Americans.  New York City should be fighting to protect religious freedom, not fighting to weaken it.”
“New York is one of our country’s most diverse cities,” said Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP Partner O. Andrew F. Wilson. “But it’s police policy for religious head covering is outdated and unlawful. Our city should be a leader when it comes to respecting religious rights, not a follower.”
The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project advocates for common-sense privacy safeguards and ending discriminatory surveillance. STOP uses litigation, legislation, and public outreach and education to increase oversight of local and state police department’s growing use of surveillance technologies.
Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP is a litigation boutique that focuses on civil rights, commercial, criminal, and ethics matters. We represent individuals, businesses, and institutions in all aspects of litigation and pre-litigation dispute resolution, from negotiation, mediation and arbitration, through hearings, trials, and appeals.
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