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Judge Prevents Indians at Lompoc from Using Headbands--for Now

From Times Wire Services

A Los Angeles federal judge refused Monday to allow American Indians housed at Lompoc federal prison to wear headbands during meals, but their attorney was given time to prove that the headwear has religious significance.

U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie wants attorney John Hagar, who represents Standing Deer, 63, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the prison, to present more anthropological evidence that the Indians’ religious freedoms have been harmed because of the institution’s ban.

Indians boycotted the penitentiary’s cafeteria to protest the Sept. 23 prison ruling, which prohibits the wearing of headbans, thongs, sweat suits and dirty clothes during meals there.

Imprisoned Indians contend that their culture calls for the religious headbands to be worn throughout the day. Some have had their headbands blessed by medicine men visiting the facility.

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The American Civil Liberties Union took the case and filed suit against the U.S. government, the Lompoc prison, Warden R.J. Christensen and his executive assistant, Chuck LaRoe.

Hagar, an ACLU attorney, said Monday after presenting statements from prisoners and a medicine man that he intends to return to court in about a month with additional testimony from Indian culture experts.


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