Over one hundred organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union and dozens of diverse religious and community groups are calling on the New York Police Department to stop spying on the area’s Muslim population.
The ACLU is leading the campaign to curb the expansive New York City surveillance program after a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles penned by investigative reporters at the Associated Press have in recent years exposed evidence that NYC police administer a number of initiatives directed squarely on Muslims.
Throughout the course of its investigation, the AP found evidence that NYPD officers have routinely monitored Muslims across the region, often solely based on their particular place of worship or where they do business.
The NYPD has defended the previously top-secret surveillance program and calls it an imperative counterterrorism instrument, but 125 groups now argue otherwise in a letter to the Department of Justice.
“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,” the letter attests. “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,” the signees claim. “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.”