AALDEF Calls for Independent Oversight of NYPD Following Sh'ia Mosque Surveillance Report

Thursday, Feb 2, 2012

Presser8 Thumbnail.jpgOn February 2, the Associated Press released classified documents indicating that since 2006, the New York Police Department has been systematically working to expand and focus its intelligence gathering through secretive surveillance of more than a dozen Sh'ia mosques and community centers throughout the Northeast, including mosques as far as South Jersey and Connecticut.

The released NYPD Strategy Report, "US-Iran Conflict: The Threat to New York City," includes among its Recommended Actions: "Identify leads with subjects of Iranian descent" and "Expand and focus intelligence collections at Sh'ia mosques." Neither any statements within the report nor any public statements by federal agencies link these mosques or organizations to terrorist activities.

"This is concrete evidence that the NYPD was targeting organizations solely because of their religious and racial affiliation, despite Michael Bloomberg's recent public claims denying this," said Nermeen Arastu, staff attorney at the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF). "The NYPD is not only straining relations within the Muslim American community, but wasting valuable resources on baseless investigations."

In response to this report and NYPD Commissioner Kelly's recent cover-up regarding his role in the anti-Muslim propaganda film The Third Jihad, which was used to train nearly 1500 NYPD cadets, AALDEF calls for independent oversight of the NYPD, as well as increased transparency of its intelligence collection strategies so that any further discriminatory activities can be exposed.

"The NYPD is violating the civil rights of communities of color with impunity," said Arastu. "These surveillance tactics mirror the NYPD's racist stop and frisk mentality, where innocent African Americans and Latinos are overwhelmingly targeted for unlawful police stops and interrogations. The NYPD has proven repeatedly that without oversight, it is unable to police communities of color with respect."

View AALDEF's joint statement with members of the Sh'ia community and supporters >

Ujala Sehgal
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