WASHINGTON — The D.C. Public Library is investigating after witnesses said a Muslim woman visiting the Shaw Library was asked by a library police officer to remove her headscarf or leave.
Jessica Raven tells WTOP it happened about a foot away from her on Wednesday, and she called it “horrifying.”
Raven said the woman refused the officer’s request to remove her hijab, and told him she wasn’t bothering anyone.
“He essentially fired back and said that it was bothering him.”
Raven said the officer even took out his handcuffs.
“He didn’t explicitly say that he was going to arrest her, but he did have his handcuffs in his hand in an intimidating way,” she said.
Eventually the woman left the library, and Raven reported what she saw to library staff and tweeted about it too.
She said another witness, a man wearing a cowboy hat, also complained to staff.
Raven happens to be Interim Executive Director for Collective Action for Safe Spaces, an organization that works to fight street harassment in D.C.
“I was just shocked, and I wanted to say something. It all happened very quickly and I had my son on my lap, and I was just afraid. Which is especially shocking given my position as someone who trains people to speak out against harassment.”
D.C. Public Library spokesman George Williams confirms to WTOP that the library received more than one complaint, and they are taking the matter seriously,
The accused police officer has been removed from Shaw Library while the library investigates what happened.
Williams said the library welcomes and serves everyone.