Linda Sarsour, firstname.lastname@example.org, 917.306.3323
Fahd Ahmed, email@example.com, 917.744.5526
MACLC Official Statement on News Reports of NYPD’s Troubling Tactics to Coerce Informants in Jailhouses
(May 12th, 2014 – New York, NY) In the wake of recent reports in the New York Times, May 11, 2014) regarding the New York Police Department’s efforts to recruit Muslims as informants, the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC) continues to be deeply concerned with the legality and propriety of the NYPD’s Counterterrorism tactics. News reports describing the tactics of the Citywide Debriefing Team to coerce Muslim individuals into becoming informants by using their Muslim faith and/or national origin as qualifications are disturbing. Combing through precincts and jailhouses, identifying people from an already targeted community, and exploiting the power dynamic between detectives and the detained to turn people into informants is a troubling practice that preys on fear and encourages religious and racial profiling.
“A key element to keeping a city safe is having a strong relationship of trust between law enforcement and local communities, and Commissioner Bratton came into office touting the importance of such trust,” said Diala Shamas, Staff Attorney the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project at CUNY School of Law. “Unfortunately, programs like the Citywide Debriefing Team send a signal that the NYPD is more interested in profiling and exploiting members of the Muslim community than building trust with them.”
While distressing, the news of the Citywide Debriefing Team is not a surprise to MACLC or the New York Muslim community. Instead, it confirms what was previously known – that the NYPD has been using informants to operate within New York’s peaceful Muslim communities, – and it highlights the magnitude of these unconstitutional practices.
“The news of the Citywide Debriefing Team is a stark reminder that even with the recent decision to disband the Zone Assessment Unit – a unit responsible for spying on Muslims in and around the city – other surveillance programs focused on the Muslim community endure,” said –Fahd Ahmed, Legal and Policy Director, Desis Rising Up and Moving (DRUM).
MACLC calls on the Department of Justice to investigate the constitutionality of the NYPD’s intelligence division activities and calls on Philip Eure, the new NYPD Inspector General to investigate this issue as soon as he takes his post. In order to rebuild the broken relationship between New York’s Muslim communities and NYPD, there must be meaningful reforms that go way beyond the recent dismantling of the Demographics Unit, which was only a very small and symbolic first step.