(WXYZ) — CAIR-Michigan announced a lawsuit today against the City of Ferndale, alleging the forced removal of an African-American Muslim woman’s hijab following her arrest in June.
According to CAIR, Helana Bowe was sitting at a traffic light on 8 Mile when she was stopped by Ferndale police over an expired license plate tag. It was then that she reportedly told officers she had a taser after being mugged earlier in the year. She was then, according to CAIR, taken into custody and transported to the Ferndale Police Department where they say she was cross-gender searched by a male officer and then forced to remove her hijab for a booking photograph in front of a male officer.
The organization said they have previously urged the city of Ferndale to reach out to them to discuss the alleged civil rights violations but have not heard from them.
"By failing to formally respond to our concerns raised on behalf of our client's civil rights having been violated, we were left with no other option but to sue the Ferndale Police," said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid in a press release. "Though the city touts itself as being a municipality of diversity and inclusion, it appears that its police department is not serious about this claim when it comes to Muslims."
The City of Ferndale tells 7 Action News that "they are unable to provide additional comment on this or any other pending or ongoing/open legal matters." They did add that "the City’s Racial Equity Action Team convened earlier this month and identified an organization with which to pursue an organization-wide training. With approval by the City Manager, the Team is seeking a proposal and expects to present the information to City Council in November."
You can read the City's September statement on the incident below:
Read the full complaint below: