Joint Statement on NYPD Surveillance of New York Area Mosques

ADC joins over 40 coalition partners in calling for immediate action (see list of coalitions below) 

Washington, DC | www.adc.org | February 2, 2012 -- Recent reports indicate that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has been conducting covert surveillance of mosques in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. The targeted mosques, highlighted in the secret NYPD document dated May 15, 2006released by the Associated Press earlier today, are largely focused on the Shi’a Muslim community. The activities of the NYPD have raised grave concerns within the broader Arab American and American Muslim communities and, in this particular instance, among Shi’a Muslims.

The confidential 10-page document outlines a systematic plan to investigate ties between local mosques, Iran, and other groups that the NYPD perceives as threats. The report specifically documents efforts by the NYPD to monitor 15 different mosques throughout the Tri-State Area. This is despite the fact that no illegal, or even suspicious activity, has ever been reported at these religious centers. This news comes at the heels of the recent controversy around the training of NYPD officers through racially charged and bigoted videos such as “The Third Jihad.”

Through excessive stop and frisk practices, overzealous surveillance measures, and a complete lack of transparency, the NYPD has blatantly violated civil rights and destroyed the trust necessary for effective policing. Such acts of surveillance undermine trust between the Muslim community and the NYPD. These measures are merely the latest in the well-documented history of NYPD’s targeting of communities of color through discriminatory policing practices. The NYPD’s use of widespread ethnic, racial, and religious profiling is a threat to all Americans’ constitutional rights and freedoms. This behavior creates distrust and suspicion among all vulnerable communities and sends the message that law enforcement is not accountable for upholding the right of all Americans to be free from unwarranted police scrutiny. The NYPD should be focused on tracking down actual threats, not targeting innocent Americans for invasive investigations and surveillance.

We, a broad coalition of civil liberties, human rights, Muslim, and interfaith organizations, call for the NYPD to acknowledge this wrongdoing, immediately cease all such activities, and create more transparency. Furthermore, we demand an external investigation