Officer accused of asking woman to remove her hijab at D.C. library

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.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

Like WTOP on Facebook and follow WTOP on Twitter and Instagram to engage in conversation about this article and others.

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2022 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up