Recap: NYPD: The Community Under a Microscope

The event was streamed live online via ADC-TV. Watch a full recording of the discussion

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Washington, DC I www.adc.org I March 30, 2012 -- As part of the ongoing Arabesque Lecture Series, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) hosted an event titled NYPD: The Community under a Microscope. This was the sixth lecture in the 2011-2012 series. 

ADC was joined by three experts, including Lynne Bernabei a founding partner at the Law Firm of Bernabei & Wachtel; Sameera Hafiz, Policy Director at the Rights Working Group (RWG); and Ginger McCall, Director of EPIC’s Open Government Program and IPIOP Program. ADC Legal Director, Abed Ayoub, moderated the discussion. 

The evening’s discussions focused on a topic of great importance that has received ever-increasing attention: the NYPD’s program of spying on Muslims, the legality of these actions, and the impact of this program on the Arab-American community. Each panelist offered insight on the events from the perspective of their own experiences and a lively question and answer session followed. 

The evening began with a discussion on the possible legal challenges that could be brought in response to the actions carried out by the NYPD.

Bernabei gave an analysis of the specific types of possible claims, and the effectiveness of these claims. Using her expertise, she proffered the explanation that most claims regarding these actions by the NYPD would be brought under First and Fourth Amendment claims as well as the right to privacy. With respect to First Amendment claims, she opined that, interestingly, jurisdiction and standing have not been an issue for courts with these actions in terms of claimants being able to show religion has been affected. Bernabei remarked that these cases must be brought, but that in reality, the first phase of cases is unlikely to be successful. Her take on the matter was that in order for these cases to be brought and in order to move forward, the issue would need to be rephrased into inquiring into “what is legitimate law enforcement activity?”

She explained that there is a lack of political will to restrain law enforcement, and that when conditions are as such, the agencies will do whatever they can get away with. Bernabei remarked that the situation would “be like starting over again from the 1960s” with respect to renewing these movements to bring about political will to keep accountability in the system