This MACLC archive contains many links to articles and documents and until it can be re-structured, it will require careful and patient reading to the end. That said, there are many important details here for anyone interested in surveillance policies and how the impacted community pushed back and continues to push back in defense of basic rights.
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 continued, 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. Over the next years and months, other revelations have been reported, culminating in the publication of the reporters’ book Enemies Within on September 3, 2013. A trove of revelations can be found here.
Most recently, diverse Muslim leaders and community members were gratified that the De Blasio administration appears to be listening to their concerns, with a turn away from Stop and Frisk and (announced on April 15 2014) the Disbanding of the NYPD Demographics Unit which had earlier vacuumed up a great deal of slipshod intelligence about law abiding Muslim New Yorkers, and mapped locations and individuals of concern in such documents as Handschu_Exhibit7b_(StrategicPostureredacted)_2.4.13. Community Leaders acknowledged the work of MACLC both in public and private, though cautioning that questions remain unanswered; will surveillance continue in another form? What will happen with the data that has already been collected? Please see our MACLC Press Release here.
MACLC members applaud Commissioner Bratton’s Decisive Response to some incidents of police brutality. However our coalition members remain concerned that lack of transparency remains systemic in the NYPD; a simple change of administration will not change everything; stronger oversight by City Council is needed. Indeed, in 2015 the Bratton NYPD has not clearly disavowed many previous policies ranging from the spurious designation of groups as “Terrorism Enterprise (TEI) to promoting simplistic training and analysis.
MACLC has been an active force in developing community response and support for police accountability, working in courts, City Council and media. MACLC members have done research and created reports detailing the negative impact of surveillance and other NYPD policies. 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.
Media reports demonstrate that police brutality remains a serious concern in New York City and around the nation. At the end of summer 2014 our colleague attorney Chaumtoli Huq was arrested and treated roughly; MACLC has issued a letter of concern and outrage.
Drawing attention to the negative impact to police policies, a related lawsuit was announced by a legal team with links to MACLC on June 18, 2013. The text of the lawsuit can be found here –news reports can be found at this link and images are at this link.
In 2015 the need for continued reform in policing has continued to make news locally and across the nation. In addition questions around problematic threat analysis continued to be relevant to the Muslim community; MACLC members shared written concerns regarding the February 2015 White House Summit Countering Violent Extremism.
LEGISLATION AND SUCCESS
MACLC members have been calling for police department accountability and therefore were consulted in the June 13, 2012 introduction of a City Council “Community Safety Act” to create an NYPD Inspector General as well as build in accountability mechanisms regarding Stop & Frisk. Please see our March 20 Press Statement on this and other important accountability bills. Mayor Bloomberg has been unwilling to rein in or reform the NYPD. 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 supported the Brennan Center Proposals Regarding the Inspector General. MACLC was glad that the New York Times agrees. Our position on an IG is explained in the MACLC Statement here.
We applaud the June 26, 2013 vote in the Council to support the Safe Communities Act Legislation. Despite baseless fear mongering by the Mayor and in the tabloids, and Mayor Bloomberg’s veto, the Council withstood pressure and voted to over-ride the Mayor’s veto in late August 2013. MACLC looks forward to further reforms under the next Mayor, Bill de Blasio, and a new Police Commissioner. Continuing to engage in public discussions, MACLC members participated in discussing Police-Community Relations in the Mayoral Talking Transitions Tent in mid-November 2013.
We are also glad to see growing and “substantial” public support for the Inspector General, as indicated by the April 11 Quinnipiac University poll. We also note that the CIA Inspector General itself has just indicated serious misgivings regarding CIA-NYPD ties.
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 .
Community leaders were disappointed to note that, according to an August 28, 2013 AP article, the nonprofit social services organization Arab American Association (AANY) has also been under intensive surveillance as a “terrorist enterprise” and the NYPD even discussed how to install one of their informants on its board. See the AP video and the CBS video. In response, AANY President Ahmad Jabar resigned his position on NYPD’s Advisory Board. Community leaders called on officials to undertake a full audit of NYPD intelligence activities and both current Comptroller Liu and candidate Stringer indicated they would move forward on this.
Over the last year, as more and more revelations came to light 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. We also have written letters to President Obama and other officials opposing the divisive and wrong-headed idea of appointing Mr. Kelly as replacement for the current head of Department of Homeland Security.
On November 27, 2013 Attorney Omar Mohammedi joined Imam Talib Adbur Rashid and M. Hashmi for a Press conference announcing their intention to take NYPD to Court for refusal to respond to FOIA requests for information regarding reports of surveillance of their various, constitutionally protected conversations.
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. However MACLC applauds Judge Scheindlin for her courageous August 2013 decision to rein in abuses and appoint a Federal monitor.
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