A Muslim woman from Haltom City says she went to municipal court on Tuesday to pay a fine for a speeding citation but wasn’t allowed inside because she was wearing a hijab.
The city said it regretted the incident and had changed its policy to allow for religious head coverings.
Kendra Montemayor, a mother and teacher who converted to Islam in 2011, got emotional in a video on Facebook Live as she walked out of the courthouse.
"I just came here to pay my ticket,” she said. “I was speeding. I just came here to do what I was told. And you won't let me in? Really?"
She said she protested to the bailiff but he told her it was the judge’s rule.
"He told me I can't come in because I have my headwrap on,” she said. “And I said, 'Sir, this is my religion."
Haltom City city manager Rex Phelps said the judge, who works for the city part-time, did have a blanket policy against any kind of headwear.
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"It was just a general rule, just like a lot of courts don't allow cell phones on in court,” Phelps said.
Once the judge realized it was a hijab, for religious reasons, she tried to accommodate her, Phelps said.
But by then, Montemayor said it was too late.
"Clearly this is my First Amendment right,” she said. “I'm at a courthouse, where you guys should know this."
The city manager said the judge has now changed the policy, to make religious exceptions, and that the bailiffs have been made aware of the change.
"I think this has been resolved,” Phelps said. “We regret the fact that this citizen was not initially allowed in the courtroom. The bailiffs were just following the rules of what the judge set forth."
"If they change that policy, then that's awesome. One for the books,” Montemayor responded. “But unfortunately the fight is not over."
Muslims are still victims of discrimination all too often, she said.
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