NEW BEDFORD, Massachusetts
Local authorities have shut down a barber shop after finding evidence of animal sacrifices, while the owner claims his religious rights are being violated.
Barber William Camacho, the owner of Bad Boyz Cutz barber shop, told WHDH-TV that he is a practitioner of Palo Mayobe, an Afro-Caribbean religion similar to Santeria. City fire & building inspectors found Camacho’s collection of birds during a safety inspection; animal control officers later removed two hens and four roosters, one of them dead, from the building’s basement. Camacho said he does not sacrifice birds on the property and had planned to move the animals off the premises. “It’s very insulting to me,” Camacho 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 insist the problem is a health issue, and not about religious freedom. “His barber shop isn’t closed because of religion, Mayor Scott Lang said, “it’s closed because of health violations, and he needs to get them straightened out in a hurry.” Camacho claims he’s losing $700 every day his business is closed, saying, “I’m losing money waiting for the city to reopen me.” Camacho could still face charges of animal cruelty, and Lang said a court may decide if he can sacrifice animals in a different part of town.
Photo credit: ABC News