In Many Sectors, Critics of NYPD Policies Emerge

Update: Since February 2012 Muslim Leaders have been calling for the NYPD Commissioner to attend a Town Hall Meeting, but with no results. Many Muslim leaders attended the Annual NYPD Pre Ramadan Breakfast in July 2012 but surveillance was not addressed at all.  Still other leaders and leading organizations registered their protest in a public statement.

It is clear that there is strong opposition in a wide variety of sectors of our society to badly defined and intrusive NYPD policies. Some polls that show broad support for NYPD spying may present a challenge, but other polls indicate that community support is not so strong. This is not surprising since the impacted community, the similarly impacted communities, and the potentially impacted communities are collectively quite large.

A recent Rutgers Poll of NJ residents seems to indicate that most older residents support surveillance policies, while younger adults are more concerned about civil liberties. However the questions are overly general and therefore possibly misleading; there is also no racial or ethnic breakdown in the results; similar polls have shown such perceptions vary considerably across diverse communities.  We also note that some New Jersey lawmakers are not complacent and have demanded investigations of NYPD policies. Similarly, House Democrats have criticized Mayor Bloomberg’s handling of this matter.

Despite the rigid support of Mayor Bloomberg as well as  the Neoconservative Right, and despite the reluctance of some politicians to take this issue on, policymakers should listen to these diverse critics. For example in April 2012 cautious NY Times columnist  Andrew Rosenthal has pointedly focused on the disparity in how American Muslims are treated by the legal system. Moreover, in the March 2012  report by South Asian Leaders for Tomorrow the voices of South Asian Americans articulate some of the negative and counter productive impact on their communities. Media reports have  also begun to suggest the similar impact of related surveillance policies on protest and  “liberal” groups.

We note that officials who try to give balanced or nuanced statements often are depicted by media as supporting NYPD surveillance. For example, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio was described here by the Wall Street Journal as supportive; however his actual speech was much more balanced.

Furthermore,  in February 2012 ReThink Media compiled a variety of statements made in the media by prominent spokespeople in opposition to the NYPD’s Muslim surveillance program.  See below: 

Law Enforcement

Gary McCarthy, Former Chief of Newark Police and Current Superintendent of Chicago Police

–He said police would follow leads in criminal cases, but the department “does not and will not conduct blanket surveillance and profiling of any community in the city of Chicago.”

–”We are deeply committed to respecting the civil rights of all Chicagoans,” McCarthy said.

–”We are focused on our mission of making Chicago the safest city for every resident in every neighborhood, but we can’t do it alone,” McCarthy said. “We must have a positive relationship with the wonderfully diverse communities that comprise Chicago and that make this great country of America as strong as it is today.”

–McCarthy wrapped up his remarks by saying he is a 9/11 survivor, who was in a command post near the World Trade Center until the towers fell. He told the audience that 13 of the 23 officers lost by the NYPD were personal friends. “And I want to tell you this,” he said. “In the 10-plus years since that horrific event, which has affected me to my core, I have never once thought ill of the religion of Islam.”

General McCarthy, Huffington Post, March 4, 2012 []

“And I want to tell you this,” he said. “In the 10-plus years since that horrific event, which has affected me to my core, I have never once thought ill of the religion of Islam.”

General McCarthy, AP, March 9, 2012, []

Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing who heads the LAPD’s counter-terrorism bureau

“We don’t profile people,” he said. “We do profile criminality. We profile criminal behavior.”

Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing, AP, February 24, 2012 []

Michael Ward, director of the FBI’s Newark division:

“There’s no correlation between the location of houses of worship and minority-owned businesses and counterterrorism” work, Ward said. By generating distrust, the NYPD operation created “more risk,” he said.

Michael Ward, Huffington Post, March 12, 2012 []

“What we’re seeing now with the uproar that’s occurring in New Jersey, is that we’re starting to see cooperation pulled back,” Ward said. “People are concerned that they’re being followed, they’re concerned that they can’t trust law enforcement and it’s having a negative impact. When people pull back cooperation it creates additional risks, it creates blind spots, it hinders our ability to have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on around the state, and thus, it causes problems and makes the job of the Joint Terrorism Task Force much, much harder.”

Michael Ward, The Washington Times, March 7, 2012 []

–”What we have now is (Muslim communities) … that they’re not sure they trust law enforcement in general, they’re fearing being watched, they’re starting to withdraw their activities,”

–”And the impact of that sinking tide of cooperation means that we don’t have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the community as well — we’re less knowledgeable, we have blind spots, and there’s more risk.”

–those relationships are being strained,” he said, his voice rising with emphasis. “And it’s the trust and those relationships that provide the true security against terrorism.”

–”There’s a difference between effective intel and intel that’s not effective,” he said. “If the NYPD intel could come over (to New Jersey) and identify hot spots of al Qaeda sympathizers, or if they could identify individuals being radicalized over the internet, then that would have a direct correlation to counterterrorism efforts and that would be something that we could use, that would be useful intelligence.  But (the NYPD) coming out and just basically mapping out houses of worship and minority-owned businesses, there’s no correlation between the location of houses of worship and minority-owned businesses and counterterrorism” work, he continued. Ward also said there should be “an articulable factual basis” for domestic intelligence collection, such as a “specific reason why we’re looking at this location, this person.”

– “Reputations are built by many deeds and ruined by one.”

Michael Ward, The Star-Ledger, March 7, 2012  []

–”It hinders our ability to have our finger on the pulse of what’s going on around the state, and thus it causes problems and makes the job of the Joint Terrorism Task force much, much harder,” Ward said at a news conference.

–”We’re starting to see cooperation pulled back,” Ward said. “People are concerned that they’re being followed, they’re concerned that they can’t trust law enforcement and it’s having a negative impact.”

Michael Ward,, March 7, 2012 []

Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio

“We really want to be clear: This type of activity is not what the Newark PD would ever do,” he said.

Newark Police Director Samuel DeMaio, Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2012 []

Attorney Peter Harvey

Harvey served as New Jersey’s Attorney General from 2003 and 2006 and helped draft two executive orders signed by then-Governor Richard Codey in 2005 that permitted both New Jersey and NYPD police officers to ride the commuter lines across the state lines retaining their powers. It was a response to the 2005 London terrorist attacks, he said.

“How can we say we want to engage with you and then covertly surveil them? You burn them as a source,” he said.

Attorney Peter Harvey, WNYC, February 27, 2012 []

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly

“We have a policy against racial profiling. I put it in here in March of the first year I was here. It’s the wrong thing to do, and it’s also ineffective. If you look at the London bombings, you have three British citizens of Pakistani descent. You have Germaine Lindsay, who is Jamaican. You have the next crew, on July 21st, who are East African. You have a Chechen woman in Moscow in early 2004 who blows herself up in the subway station. So whom do you profile? Look at New York City. Forty per cent of New Yorkers are born outside the country. Look at the diversity here. Who am I supposed to profile?”

“…You think that terrorists aren’t aware of how easy it is to be characterized by ethnicity?” Kelly went on. “Look at the 9/11 hijackers. They came here. They shaved. They went to topless bars. They wanted to blend in. They wanted to look like they were part of the American dream. These are not dumb people. Could a terrorist dress up as a Hasidic Jew and walk into the subway, and not be profiled? Yes. I think profiling is just nuts.”

Commissioner Raymond Kelly, The New Yorker, February 6, 2006 []

National Political Figures

Attorney General Eric Holder

“At least what I’ve read publicly, and again, just what I’ve read in the newspapers, is disturbing,”

Attorney General Eric Holder, The Washington Post, March 8, 2012 []

“You do not want to alienate a community, a group of people so that especially impressionable young people think that their government is against them,” Holder said. “And then, you know, the siren song that they hear from people who they can access on the Internet becomes something that becomes more persuasive to them.”

Attorney General Eric Holder, USA Today, February 29,2012 []

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ)

“If it is the case that they were not informed, then something is desperately wrong when you have the police department of one jurisdiction of an entire other state come into a neighboring state and conduct such type of intelligence,” said Menendez in an interview Thursday, “especially when that intelligence was driven not by any credible information of any violation of law, but simply by suspicion of a group because of their ethnic or religious background.”

Senator Robert Menendez, WNYC, February 23, 2012 []

Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ) via Twitter

NYPD spying on NJ Muslims is reprehensible. In Sept I asked AG Holder to name special counsel. Still waiting.

Rep. Rush Holt, Salon, February 28, 2012 []

Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ)

Pascrell is the original member of the House Homeland Security Committee and co-chair of the Congressional Law Enforcement Caucus.

“If we were simply looking into behavior which we had no idea was lawful or unlawful, that’s really rolling the die, and that’s when our fundamental principles suffer,”

Rep Bill Pascrell, WNYC, February 23, 2012 []

“All of my experience with the New York City Police Department as a member of the House Homeland Security Committee has been good. But there’s no reason for the NYPD to be engaging in a surveillance operation in New Jersey without first communicating with the U.S. attorney, the State Police and local law enforcement agencies,” said Pascrell. “We must focus on behavioral profiling rather ethnic or religious profiling. That is, a person’s actions should be the only thing to attract the attention of law enforcement, not a person’s ethnicity or religion.”

Rep Bill Pascrell, The Paramus Post, February 23, 2012 []

Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-NY)

“There were those who, during World War II, said, ‘Good, I’m glad they’re interning all the Japanese-Americans who are living here. … But we look back on that period with disdain.”

Rep. Yvette Clarke, Washington Post (AP), February 24,2012 []

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)

“It makes no sense and is not sensible law enforcement,”

Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Huffington Post , March 4, 2012 [

Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA)

Rep. Honda was an infant was sent with his parents to a Japanese internment camp during World War II and has compared that policy to the NYPD’s treatment of Muslims.

“It just doesn’t make the community feel very comfortable,” Honda said, “and it seems to me that this is one of the ways that Al-Qaeda types would recruit young people based on these kinds of behavior on the part of our government.”

Rep. Mike Honda, NYULocal, February 29, 2012 []

On his goal to push the Justice department to investigate the NYPD: “If we had done this back in 1940, maybe we wouldn’t have been sent to camps,” Honda said. “Government can operate in ways that are contradictory to our own constitutional rights. … It has really a chilling effect.”

Rep. Mike Honda, CBS News, Feb 28, 2012 []

State and Local Political Figures

Newark Mayor Cory Booker

“It is deeply offensive for me to do blanket surveillance for no reason other than religious affiliation,”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Metro NYC Desk, February 22, 2012 []

“I strongly believe that we must be vigilant in protecting our citizens from crime and terrorism, but to put large segments of a religious community under surveillance with no legitimate cause or provocation clearly crosses a line,” he said.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, CNN, February 23, 2012 []

“A chill has been put on my community,” he said. “The pain and the anguish is real.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, Huffington Post, March 3, 2012 []

“If anyone in my police department had known this was a blanket investigation of individuals based on nothing but their religion, that strikes at the core of our beliefs and my beliefs very personally, and it would have merited a far sterner response,”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, AP, February 23, 2012 [

““Right now in Newark, New Jersey, my Muslim community is living in a state of fear, anguish and frustration,” Newark Mayor Cory Booker said Tuesday. “I’ve had imams tell me that people are afraid to go to houses of worship for fear of guilt by association.”

Newark Mayor Cory Booker, The Record, Feb 24, 2012 []

NJ Governor Chris Christie

In his criticisms of New York City, Christie mentioned Sept. 11, saying, “9/11 was not prevented because law enforcement agencies weren’t talking to each other, they were being selfish, they were being provincial, they were being paranoid, they were being arrogant…I do not want to return to those days.”

NJ Governor Chris Christie, The Village Voice, March 2, 2012 []

–Christie told a briefing that the lack of communication “seems to be an abandonment of the core lesson of 9/11.”

– “I know they think they their jurisdiction is the world. Their jurisdiction is New York City,” Christie said, adding: “My concern is this kind of affectation that the NYPD seems to have that they are the masters of the universe.”

Governor Christie, WNYC (Associated Press), March 1, 2012 []

“What bothers me is that they seem to have abandoned the key lesson from Sept. 11, which is we should be sharing information with each other,”

Governor Christie, AM New York, March 1, 2011 []

New York City Comptroller John C. Liu,

Liu is expected to run for mayor.

“we should not as a matter of policy profile people based on religion or race — it goes against everything this city stands for.”

John C. Liu, MSNBC, February 26th, 2012 []

Councilman Brad Lander

“It looks like we are targeting Muslim neighborhoods and communities,” “That’s not good for us. We have people out there who are partners who feel the trust is betrayed.”

Councilman Brad Lander, MSNBC, February 26th, 2012 []

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer

“it is troubling when people are subject to surveillance and investigation simply because they are members of a particular group.”

Scott Stringer, Washington Post, February 26, 2012 []

Ron Haddad, chief of police in Dearborn

“The intelligence people tell you the only thing they can give you are indicators, and the indicators are very limited and nothing is absolute,”

“If you can tell them, you need to tell them,” Haddad said. He added, “The danger in not making the appropriate disclosure is they are going to be more suspicious of you.”

Ron Haddad, Associated Press, March 12 []

Senator Kevin Parker (D-Brooklyn)

…while “we need to be vigilant of protecting against terrorists, we also need to be vigilant of protecting our way of life…”

Sen. Kevin Parker, Legislative Gazette, March 5, 2012 []

Interfaith Leaders

Rev. Phil Latronico, speaking on behalf of the Newark Roman Catholic Archdiocese

“If you don’t stand up with your brothers and sisters of other faiths, what will happen to them will happen to you”

Rev. Phil Latronico, The Record, March 8, 2012, []

Archbishop John J. Myers of the Newark Roman Catholic Archdiocese

It is equally paramount for authorities to “secure our safety” and to “secure every one of our basic liberties, especially our liberty to express our faith… To do otherwise is to invite fear, hatred and oppression into our lives.”

Archbishop John J. Myers, The Record, March 8, 2012, []

Rabbi Elliott Tepperman of B’nai Keshe

“We as people of faith need to speak out to the police, and to any other organizations which we trust to take care of our security, to make sure that they understand that we do not feel more secure when they are singling out Muslims, or any group of any faith, as a so-called measure of our security,” said Rabbi Elliott Tepperman of Bnai Keshet in Montclair. “We ask them to keep us all secure, regardless of faith, and to investigate people who are doing bad things, not people because they are of one religion or another.”

Rabbi Elliott Tepperman, March 8, 2012, Wall Street Journal via Associated Press, []

Zaheer Uddin of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York

“It seems to many of the leadership here, there are two kinds of authorities they are playing — one is in the forefront which is very cooperative,” said “And there is another authority, which is playing against Islam and Muslims, going against the First Amendment and the security of this country.” Uddin asked, “Are we partners, or are we a suspicious community?”

Zaheer Uddin, January 11, 2012, Associated Press, []

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Director, Rabbis for Human Rights North America

“I applaud Mayor Bloomberg for his support of religious freedom, such as his outspoken support of Park51. But he, and the NYPD leadership, need to understand that religious freedom in America extends to the freedom to live and worship freely without the fear that it will place your name in a police file. Those charged with fighting crime and disrupting terrorism should not be allowed to criminalize daily life.”

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, March 7, 2012, Huffington Post, []

John Scott, Baptist Ministers Conference of New York City

“There’s a lot of intimidation going on, a lot of unhealthy suspicion,” Comparing it to FBI infiltration of black activist groups during the civil rights era: “All of our phones were tapped. They had plants in all of our meetings,” Scott said. “When you begin to stereotype and stigmatize a particular group like that, you give those violent elements legitimacy — almost like they’re doing America a favor.”

John Scott, January 5, 2012, Associated Press via The Wall Street Journal, []

Jacques DeGraff, associate pastor of the Canaan Baptist Church

“The police department has an accountability issue,” DeGraff said. “Faith says we are called to a higher standard, and we can respond to security threats without violating rights.”

Jacques DeGraff, January 5, 2012, Associated Press via The Wall Street Journal, []

National Interfaith Letter sent by over 25 religious groups to Mayor Bloomberg

We are committed to building a future in which religious differences no longer lead to suspicion, hostility or division between communities. Rather, we believe that such diversity can serve to enrich our public discourse about the great moral challenges that face our nation and our planet. On the basis of our shared reflection, we insist that no religion should be judged on the words or actions of those who seek to pervert it through acts of violence.

Shoulder-to-Shoulder, March 13, 2012, []

Pastor Stephen Phelps of Riverside Church

“We feel that these activities are a crisis. The people of faith throughout this city, and really throughout this land, are deeply opposed to this transgression of human rights,”

Pastor Stephen Phelps, March 13, 2012, CBS New York, []

“The practice of racial profiling and of stopping-and-frisking works the same as terrorism works, where you don’t actually have to hit every person in the population in order to cause the entire group to feel a terror and to change their behaviors.”

Pastor Stephen Phelps, March 13, 2012, WNYC, []

Imam Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, head of the Islamic Leadership Council of New York

“Increasingly Mayor Bloomberg and commissioner Kelly are acting more like rulers than public servants,”

Iman Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, March 13, 2012, CBS New York, []

Rev. Dr. Earl Kooperkamp, St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Harlem

“It seems that if Prophet Muhammad, Jesus, and the Buddha were walking down the streets of New York City, all men of color, the odds are that they would be stopped and frisked by the NYPD today. This all has to stop,”

Rev. Dr. Earl Kooperkamp, March 14, 2012, Interfaith Center of New York , []

Rev. Robert Chase, Intersections International

“It is difficult to understand why the NYPD would choose such a divisive and alienating approach to these communities rather than working more cooperatively with their members. We urge the Commissioner to attend a town hall convened by New York Muslim leaders to hear community members’ concerns and regain their respect and trust instead of playing them off each other.”

Rev. Robert Chase, March 14, 2012, Interfaith Center of New York , []

Rabbi Justus Baird, Auburn Theological Seminary

“New York doesn’t need a Religion Police Force; NY needs a police force that understands religion.”

Rabbi Justus Baird, March 14, 2012, Interfaith Center of New York, []

Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture

“I regret that NYPD and Mayor Bloomberg think that surveillance of the Muslim community and religious profiling makes our communities safe. Biblical teachings for thousands of years teach that treating people well and working for justice make us safe. Our religious traditions all emphasize that security comes from being fair to each other and treating others the way that we want to be treated.”

Rev. Richard Killmer, March 14, 2012, Interfaith Center of New York , []

Rev. Chloe Breyer, Interfaith Center of New York

“For the last 13 years the Interfaith Center of NY has been working to make our shared city a better and safer place for all people; and in that spirit we call again on the NYPD to further develop its accountability, transparency and unbiased education about the diverse communities it serves.”

Rev. Chloe Breyer, March 14, 2012, Interfaith Center of New York , []

“There have been, throughout American history, times when certain groups of people, because of security situations, have been targeted in exactly the same way,”

Rev. Chloe Breyer, March 13, 2012, CBS New York, []

Imam Mustafa El-Amin, the head of Masjid Ibrahim in Newark

“We’re not living in a shell, we understand some of the threats to our country, and to pretend like we don’t understand that would be ridiculous,” El-Amin said. “But there’s process and there are procedures that are in place that have to be followed so that you don’t violate any of the rights of the citizens of the United States of America.”

Imam Mustafa El-Amin, March 3, 2012, The Wall Street Journal, []

University Officials

Richard Levin, president of Yale University

“Police surveillance based on religion, nationality or peacefully expressed political opinion is antithetical to the values of Yale, the academic community and the United States.”

Richard Levin, The Justice, March 5, 2012 []

Rick Sawyer, Dean of Student Life, Brandeis University

When asked if he thought that the monitoring of Muslim student groups was an invasion of privacy, he answered in the affirmative: “Absolutely,” he said. “That is trampling on peoples’ rights in pursuit of suspicions.”

Rick Sawyer, The Justice, March 5, 2012 []

Columbia University spokesman Robert Hornsby

“Like New York City itself, American universities are admired across the globe as places that welcome a diversity of people and viewpoints. So we would obviously be concerned about anything that could chill our essential values of academic freedom or intrude on student privacy,”

Associated Press, February 18, 2012 []

Columbia University President, Lee Bollinger

“We should all be able to appreciate the deeply personal concerns of the Muslim members of our community in learning that their activities were being monitored — and the chilling effect such governmental efforts have on any of us in a university devoted to the foundational values of free speech and association.”

Lee Bollinger, Columbia University President, ABC News, February 26, 2012 []

Syracuse University statement

Syracuse University does “not approve of, or support, any surveillance or investigation of student groups based solely on ethnicity, religion or political viewpoint,” said Kevin Quinn, senior vice president for public affairs at Syracuse.

Associated Press, February 21, 2012, []

City College of New York statement

“The City College of New York does not accept or condone any investigation of any student organization based on the political or religious content of its ideas,” the college said in a written statement. “Absent specific evidence linking a member of the City College community to criminal activity, we do not condone this kind of investigation.”

Associated Press, February 18, 2012 []

University at Buffalo statement

“UB does not conduct this kind of surveillance and if asked, UB would not voluntarily cooperate with such a request,” the university said in a written statement. “As a public university, UB strongly supports the values of freedom of speech and assembly, freedom of religion, and a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Associated Press, February 18, 2012 []

Published on March 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm  Leave a Comment  

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