Originally AP reported that “Valentine violated a court policy that prohibits people from wearing any headgear in court, police said after they arrested her Tuesday.” Now, apparently, that policy is out the window, and court officials are in full retreat before the specter of being accused of “racism” and “bigotry.”
DOUGLASVILLE, Georgia (CNN) — The Douglasville Police Department said Monday its officers will undergo “sensitivity and cultural diversity training” after a Muslim woman who refused to remove her head scarf at a courthouse was jailed.
Lisa Valentine has been shaken “to her core” by her arrest last week, her lawyer says.
“We never want this to happen again. It’s not our intent to embarrass anybody,” Police Chief Joe Whisenant said at a news conference.
The judge who had the woman jailed briefly for contempt of court will also take part in the training, Whisenant said.
The incident took place December 16 when Lisa Valentine, who also goes by her Muslim name, Miedah, accompanied her nephew to a hearing at Douglasville’s municipal courthouse. The scarf, called a hijab, covered her hair but not her face. It is part of her religious belief that her hair should be covered in public, as a form of modesty.
In an interview with CNN’s Rusty Dornin, Valentine said a bailiff told her she could not enter with her head scarf.
“I didn’t pose a threat to anybody,” Valentine said. “So I got really angry. I told her that was discrimination, and I said it was b.s. — and I used the full term of the word.”
She tried to leave, but the bailiff demanded that she appear before the judge, and pulled on her arm, Valentine said.
“I was right near the door. I said, ‘Don’t touch me.’ And so she got in front of me,” Valentine said. “… She called for a guard or a police officer. He came and then he just was near me, and was like, ‘You’re going to do what you’re told to do.’
“And then he grabbed my arm, and of course instinctively I pulled it away. So he’s like grabbing me and bending my arm, like you see people who are resisting arrest, and trying to get really physical with me. … Then I said, ‘OK, OK,’ and I let them put the handcuffs on me.”
Valentine said she would have had no problem with allowing a female officer to check under her head scarf to make sure she did not pose any danger.
Valentine said that when she told the judge what had happened, he sentenced her to 10 days in jail for contempt of court.
At the jail down the street, Valentine had to change into a jumpsuit. Her mug shot was taken — without her head scarf.
She was let out of jail later that day. Her attorney, M. Khurram Baig, said he does not know why she was released so quickly.
“It’s been devastating for her,” Baig said. “We’re talking about a major life-altering event for somebody to realize that everything they thought they knew about our justice system may not actually be the case. So she’s been shook to her core.”
Douglasville authorities describe the day’s events somewhat differently.
In a news release, police said Valentine repeatedly used the expletive, told the bailiff that the judge was “racist,” pointed her finger toward the officer, and “became loud enough that she attracted the attention of another officer.”
The news release said an officer did tell Valentine she could not leave, “and placed her hand on Mrs. Valentine’s wrist.”
“Mrs. Valentine resisted the officer’s efforts by stiffening her arm, but did not physically fight with the officer,” the release said.
When Judge Keith Rollins was told of the incident, the news release said, he ordered her jailed for 10 days….
When word of the incident spread, groups across the country weighed in on Valentine’s behalf, including the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union.
On Friday, about 50 people demonstrated outside the courthouse. Speakers called Valentine’s treatment a violation of the Constitution and called for Rollins to step down….