Authorities shut down a Massachusetts barbershop after finding evidence of animal sacrifices, and the owner is claiming his religious freedoms have been violated.
New Bedford barber William Camacho told WHDH-TV he practices Palo Mayobe, an Afro-Caribbean religion similar to Santeria. Animal control officers removed two chickens and four roosters, one dead, from the shop's basement, after fire and building inspectors found the birds during a safety inspection.
Camacho, who said he was going to move the birds off the premises, says he does not sacrifice animals at the barbershop.
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“It’s very insulting to me,” he said. “’Because what happens is that -- where I come from, it’s very known -- and this town, it’s ignorant for them, ‘cause they don’t know what type of religion it is.”
City officials say it's a health issue, not a religious one.
“His barber shop isn’t closed because of his religion,” Mayor Scott Lang said. “It’s closed because of health violations, and he needs to get them straightened out in a hurry.”
Camacho could still face animal cruelty charges and claims he's losing $700 a day.
“I’m losing money and I’m waiting for the city to reopen me,” he said.
Lang said a court may also decide if Camacho can sacrifice animals elsewhere in the city.