In response to New York Times and AP revelations concerning NYPD involvement in widespread Muslim community surveillance, as well as Islamophobic training, the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC) has been active in demanding police accountability and an immediate change in policies.
On April 16, 2012 AP reporters Matt Apuzzo, Eileen Sullivan, Adam Goldman and Chris Hawley received the Pulitzer Prize for their investigative reporting of the scandalously widespread NYPD monitoring of American Muslims and MACLC congratulates them all. Their work continues: reporting in a Washington Post article (August 20, 2012) that Court records show the Department has admitted that six years of NYPD spying on the community led to no leads in actual terror cases.
At noon on March 11, 2013 at 1 Police Plaza there was a well-attended press conference launching a significant new report entitled: Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims. This work has been researched and compiled by attorneys and researchers at CLEAR and AADELF in partnership with MACLC. The Press Release and Press Advisory can be found to the left and also here; the report itself can also be found on the AALDEF website.
MACLC members have been calling for police department accountability and therefore were consulted in the June 13, 2012 introduction of a City Council bill to create an NYPD Inspector General. Please see our recent March 20 Press Statement on this and other important accountability bills, addressing Stop and Frisk as well as surveillance issues. We are glad to see growing and “substantial” public support for the Inspector General, as indicated by the April 11 Quinnipiac University poll.
Earlier, MACLC members had been disappointed that leading up to the October 10, 2012 City Council hearing on the legislation that Mayor Bloomberg saw fit to make rather ill-considered and misleading remarks. However, MACLC members testified at the hearing and we do urge support of the Brennan Center Proposals Regarding the Inspector General. MACLC is glad that the New York Times agrees. Regarding our position on an IG please read our MACLC Statement here.
In the absence of agreeing to meet MACLC or many of its coalition members, recent NYPD moves to establish an apparently acquiescent Muslim Advisory Council have been problematic and divisive– see the Arab American Association Letter from July 19 2012. Please also see the Majlis Ash Shura Amir (Islamic Leadership Council Chair) Imam Talib Abdur Rashid’s recent (8/12) essay .
In recent months, MACLC has joined the Majlis and many other allies in deploring such other divisive and counter productive NYPD policies as widespread “Stop and Frisk” in communities of color and organized the recent March 27, 2013 press conference at Federal Court and joined the June 18, 2012 Silent March called by NAACP and other community groups.
Noted Attorney Alan Levin examined NYPD’s illegal surveillance programs in an essay published in the Law Journal in mid August 2012. But despite such legal analysis, political actions and continuing media reports that have sparked calls for oversight as well as investigation, New Yorkers have yet to see any action from the Bloomberg Administration to rein in the spying and profiling programs.
In the absence of direct dialogue with NYPD, MACLC members and allies have been active in raising our concerns publicly. There was also a MACLC press conference at City Hall on Thursday, January 26 2012 at 11 am. Here is the Press Statement and here and here are some articles and thoughtful reflections about the event. MACLC supports the demands in the Muslim Advocates’ Group Letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. In addition, MACLC signed on to a February 20 Letter created by our ally Association of American Muslim Lawyers (AMAL) requesting an investigation from the New York State Attorney General.
Despite divisive and somewhat random NYPD efforts to cultivate Muslim allies, MACLC commends those leaders who are calling for an investigation of this scandal. We also note the positive developments regarding the inappropriate (and unauthorized) partnership with the CIA here but remain vigilant because of emerging news. Plans to strengthen the CCRB are clearly inadequate –even as a smokescreen. Councilman Brad Lander has called for an Inspector General over the NYPD. And Thanks to Councilman Jackson for his Clarification and to our other allies for their Congressional Letters and letters of concern and to State Senators for their proposed legislation. New Jersey has shown signs of civic responsibility. We are also appreciative that (unlike the local tabloids) the New York Times has come up with a strong editorial call for NYPD Accountability in response to these concerns.
We also note the very troubling new Reports and documents revealing the extent of NYPD surveillance of Shia mosques and surveillance of mosque sermons and conversations as well as Infiltration of Muslim student clubs extending throughout the East. Specific groups under surveillance includes Syrian Americans and well respected activist and community groups. On March 22, 2012 South Asian Leaders for Tomorrow (SALT) released a new report with a number of community members voicing how these intrusive policies impact them. For further community response please visit this page as well as this page for school and student response.
MACLC CALLS FOR OVERSIGHT
MACLC members note that since late summer 2011, and numerous reports of corruption and racism within the department, as well as killing of unarmed young people we have heard an increasing number of calls for oversight over the NYPD. Stop and Frisk numbers in 2011 reached 684,330. For these reasons we would support such calls and urge that such oversight include the illegal and certainly problematic surveillance and training programs for officers involved in national security and intelligence collection. NYPD must be more accountable and transparent; no matter what former DHS Head Tom Ridge and former CIA Director Woolsey may say– see Daily News Diatribe in which they misrepresent MACLC, CAIR, and concerns about the Third Jihad.
As you will see documented below, MACLC has made many efforts to meet with Commissioner Kelly about the Islamophobic content of trainings; and following the publication of a Jan 23, 2012 New York Times article exposing NYPD’s misleading statements concerning this issue, coalition members can now better understand why we were rebuffed or sidelined for so long. Thanks to our partner Brennan Center for its efforts to uncover this troubling info, documented HERE .
At the end of 2011, Muslim New Yorkers and interfaith allies wrote a letter reminding Mayor Bloomberg that many community leaders do not accept his uncritical support for current policies: Letter
The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC) supported the November 18 rally for NYPD accountability and against “Police Repression.” See flier: Nov-18-Flyer#1 and nov_18_flyer2 and nov19threePDF and video
MACLC would also like to express sincere gratitude to New York Senator Kevin Parker, Senator Bill Perkins, Senator Velmanette Montgomery, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Senator Liz Krueger, Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Senator Shirley L. Huntley for their courageous stance against the NYPD’s reported espionage and surveillance of the American Muslim community in New York, and for their uncompromising position that law enforcement must work within the framework of our laws and Constitution. As a coalition of Muslim organizations and advocacy groups, MACLC shares these concerns, and believes that an immediate investigation of the allegations is necessary. MACLC was formed in 2008 following the NYPD’s release of its highly prejudicial radicalization report and since then has been calling for oversight of law enforcement and correction of faulty threat analysis and policing policies.
MACLC also thanks the many City Council members for their support at the committee meeting on October 6, 2011 – we warmly hope and expect to see a full investigation of NYPD policies. It was Benjamin Franklin who said that “any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” To echo Franklin’s sentiments, it is our belief that the breach of trust created by the New York Police Department not only serves to damage the critical and long-standing relationship between law enforcement and the American Muslim community, but also goes against our Constitutional principles of liberty and presumed innocence until otherwise proven.
to Reports of NYPD-CIA Collaboration
(New York, NY, August 25, 2011)—The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC) is deeply troubled by the news of the New York City Police Department’s collaboration with the Central Intelligence Agency to spy on American Muslim communities. The reporting suggests that the CIA may be violating the prohibition on domestic spying. Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s insistence otherwise, it is clear that the NYPD is spying on entire communities without any particular suspicion of criminal activity. Community-based surveillance falls well beyond the purview of even the NYPD’s broad preventative mandate.
From growing reliance on unsubstantiated and discriminatory theories about radicalization, to revelations about law enforcement’s use of Islamophobic training materials, to a number of reports documenting government informants literally encouraging and devising terrorist plots, there is a growing body of evidence to confirm what Muslim communities have been long been saying: the NYPD and FBI are engaging in blatant religious, racial, and national origin profiling and broad-based surveillance of Muslim communities, absent suspicion of criminal activity. The FBI’s own guidelines authorize the agency to undertake “assessments” prior to any indication of criminal activity. Now every American must ask about the role of the CIA in these operations.
Together, these practices paint a dangerous picture of the ways in which law enforcement engages with Muslim communities under the banner of national security. These McCarthyite spying techniques threaten the civil rights of all Americans, and deepen the long-existing rifts between communities of color and police in the United States.
Since 2007 MACLC has raised concerns about NYPD policies that encourage police officers to spy on Muslim communities when there is no indication of wrongdoing. Despite MACLC’s best efforts, the NYPD has refused to engage meaningfully with those that draw attention to problems with its policies. We believe the time has come for this issue to be taken up more broadly.
MACLC calls on:
• the New York City Council to investigate and oversee the NYPD’s operations, as well as a City Comptroller Audit;
• the Obama Administration to initiate a federal investigation into the extent to which the CIA has engaged in domestic spying within the United States, in violation of law and its manadate;
• Congress and the New York State Senate to hold hearings into the NYPD’s, FBI’s, and CIA’s surveillance and policing practices in Muslim communities with a focus on the role of informants;
• Congress and New York State Senate to pass enforceable anti-racial profiling legislation;
• NYPD and the Department of Justice to revise their internal guidelines to disallow the use of surveillance and informants absent suspicion of specific criminal activity.
MACLC also calls on the civil liberties community and civil society to send a message to the NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg that the public has not granted them a mandate for this surveillance operation.
ALL SIGNERS LINKED HERE: 110825-MACLC_Statement_NYPD_CIA (4)
For newest articles see right hand panel. FOIL requests and other legal actions may be found there and here: Court Filing Oct 2, 2011