Calling for the Department of Justice to investigate surveillance by local police departments
It was confirmed through investigative reports by the Associated Press that the New York Police Department engages in unwarranted surveillance of the every day lives of Arab and Muslim American Communities in the Northeast. As shown by the NYPD’s own documents, for over a decade, the Department has engaged in unlawful religious profiling of Arabs and Muslims in New York City (and beyond). This surveillance is based on the false and unconstitutional premise, reflected in the NYPD’s published “radicalization” theory, that Muslim religious belief, practices, and community engagement are grounds for law enforcement scrutiny. That is a premise rooted in ignorance and bias: it is wrong and unfairly stigmatizes Muslims, who are a law-abiding, diverse, and integral part of our nation and New York City. Unsurprisingly, the NYPD’s surveillance program has had far-reaching, deeply negative effects on Muslims’ constitutional rights by chilling speech and religious practice and harming religious goals and missions. It has frayed the social fabric of Muslim communities by breeding anxiety, distrust, and fear. The NYPD’s biased policing practices hurt not only Muslims, but all communities who rightfully expect that law enforcement will serve and protect America’s diverse population equally, without discrimination.
We believe that if the NYPD’s surveillance programs go unchecked and uninvestigated, this will give a blank check for other local law enforcement agencies across the country to engage in these unlawful practices at the same scale. This is why it is imperative to hold New York City up as an example where we unequivocally as a nation and government denounce the targeting of any community based on religion and/or national origin.
The Campaign to Take on Hate will continue to call on the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice to conduct a prompt investigation under 42 U.S.C.§ 14141 into the New York City Police Department’s (“NYPD”) discriminatory surveillance of American Muslim communities.