The American Civil Liberties Union and its New York chapter filed the lawsuit Tuesday over the New York Police Department’s so-called Muslim Surveillance Program, which they say has “imposed an unjustified badge of suspicion and stigma on hundreds of thousands of innocent New Yorkers.”
About 100 people gathered outside NYPD headquarters in Lower Manhattan this morning to raise awareness about the suit. They carried signs reading, “NYPD: Stop Spying On Me” and “Walking While Black and Praying While Muslims Are Not Crimes.”
“The NYPD has spread fear and chill throughout the community,” Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, said at the rally.
Surveillance and religious profiling of Muslims has been “an unlawful policy and practice” of the NYPD since 2002, according to the complaint.
“This policy and practice has a false and unconstitutional premise: that Muslim religious belief and practices are a basis for law enforcement scrutiny,” the complaint continues.
The NYPD’s Intelligence Division is at the helm of the [sic] Muslim Surveillance Program, singling “out Muslim religious and community leaders, mosques, organizations, businesses and individuals for pervasive surveillance that is not visited upon the public at large or upon institutions or individuals belonging to any other religious faith,” according to the complaint.
“That surveillance has included the mapping of Muslim communities and their religious, educational and social institutions and businesses in New York City (and beyond); deploying NYPD officers and informants to infiltrate mosques and monitor the conversations of congregants and religious leaders without any suspicion of wrongdoing; and conducting other forums of suspicionless surveillance of Muslim individuals, organizations, and institutions, including through the use of informants and monitoring of websites, blogs and other online forums,” the 33-page complaint continues.
Police enter the information collected from these activities into databases, according to the lawsuit.
Yet these “mapping activities have not generated a single lead, nor led to a single terrorism investigation,” according to the complaint, which cites the commanding officer of the NYPD’s Intelligence Division as its source.
The lawsuit says the department’s activities have curtailed the religious freedoms of Muslims and caused fear of expression in the community."
— Nick Divito, “Muslim New Yorkers Decry Police Spying,” Courthouse News Service 6/18/13