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Latino Daily News

Friday August 19, 2011

LATINO BLOTTER: Barber Performs Ritualistic Animal Sacrifices in Shop Basement

LATINO BLOTTER: Barber Performs Ritualistic Animal Sacrifices in Shop Basement

Photo: William Camacho says right to practice his religion is being violated

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A Boston area barber shop has been closed after city animal control officers discovered animals were being slaughtered by barber and shop owner, William Camacho.

Camacho, 41, is the owner of Bad Boy Cutz, a barber shop in the Boston neighborhood of New Bedford. He claims his “moral rights” were violated when animal control removed two chickens, two pigeons, and four roosters – one dead – from the basement of the barber shop. The animals, along with statues, candles and altar that filled the room were noticed by fire and building inspectors performing a routine safety inspection on Tuesday. They then contacted animal control.

The barber says his religion, Palo Mayombe, is one he has practiced since he was a child. The Afro-Caribbean religion is like Santeria in that they perform animal sacrifices as they believe the blood to be sacred.

“Palo Mayombe [is] actually working with the dead and working with the spirits,” Camacho told ABC. “We use the roosters to sacrifice so that the spirits can eat. That’s the way they eat. It’s a tradition.”

Camacho says the area is “just not ready” for his religion, and said, “[The police] violating my First Amendment rights, man. They fabricated a case on me. They’re hitting me with animal cruelty charges.”

The pigeons were found with the dead rooster in a sealed cardboard box in the basement, and officers had initially suspected a cockfighting ring.

Thursday, Mayor Scott W. Lang said the barber shop was closed “because of health reasons, not religion.”

According to a health inspector, the floor of the basement was lined with fecal matter and was “traveling up to the barbershop itself, which was affecting the general public.”

Mayor Lang said he agrees with Camacho’s right to believe in any god he chooses, but went on to say there are “government responsibilities to protect the public health and to prevent cruelty to animals. My feeling is I support the Board of Health in this, and certainly if there are any other departments that find violations.”