Woman Arrested at ICE Protest Sues After Allegedly Being Forced to Remove Hijab for Mugshot

A woman who says she was forced to remove her hijab for a mugshot after being arrested at an immigration protest has launched a lawsuit against the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections.

Clara Ruplinger had been out protesting against the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency's role in enforcing the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" family separation policy at a July 2018 rally when she was arrested.

Upon being booked at the corrections department, Ruplinger said she was told by a female officer that she would have to remove her headscarf for an evaluation, but would be able to put it back on before a mugshot was taken, the protester's attorney, Soha Saiyed told local broadcaster WHAS11, an ABC affiliate.

Ruplinger, who is Muslim, according to WHAS11, complied, but then was told that officers would have to take a photo of her without her hijab to "properly record" her "head dimensions."

"Multiple officers approached her and said you have to take your scarf off so that we can take a picture to properly record your head dimensions," Saiyed said.

After pleading with officers not to take the photo, asserting that it is against her religious beliefs to allow her hair to be seen by men who are unrelated to her, Ruplinger finally complied under the belief that the photo would only be used by authorities.

Despite taking a mugshot of Ruplinger wearing her hijab, however, the protester said authorities chose to disseminate the photo of her without her headscarf to the public.

"There is no explanation whatsoever and has been no explanation for why they decided that that was the photograph that they would make publicly available," Jeremiah Reece, who is also representing Ruplinger alongside Saiyed, told the broadcaster.

According to WHAS11, the corrections center has had rules in place since 2010 to photograph and fingerprint anyone booked into the facility.

However, Ruplinger's attorneys have asserted that there is no reason for the department to have chosen to make the photo of their client without her hijab public, when she had specifically requested to wear the headscarf in her mugshot.

Before filing their lawsuit, Ruplinger's attorneys said they reached out to Mayor Greg Fischer and the county's attorney office about the incident, but were told that officials "didn't think we did anything wrong."

"The initial response from them was 'well we didn't think we did anything wrong and we don't think the law was violated,'" Saiyed said.

In February 2019, however, the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections updated its policies to ensure that inmates would be allowed to keep on any religious headwear during a mugshot.

"Then it was—well we still don't think we did anything wrong, but here are those policy changes that we currently made," Saiyed said.

While the department has updated its policies, Ruplinger is asking that officials remove her mugshot from public records.

Her attorneys are also asking that the city pay damages, though it is still unclear how much they will seek in compensation.

Newsweek has contacted the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections for comment for this article.

A woman says she was forced to remove her hijab for a mugshot taken at the Louisville Metro Department Of Corrections in July 2018 after she was arrested at an ICE protest. Raymond Boyd/Getty