Barbershop Shut Down Due to Animal Sacrifices

Officials say it's a matter of health, not religion

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Aug 18, 2011  |  Updated 12:07 PM EDT
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Palo Mayobe is similar to Santeria, a Caribbean religion.

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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.

“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.

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