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ADC Deeply Troubled by LAPD Plan to ‘Map’ LA-Area Muslims

Washington, DC | November 10, 2007 | www.adc.org | The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is deeply troubled by the Los Angeles Police Department’s “community mapping” plan. The intelligence-guided mapping plan, which is to be carried out in conjunction with the University of Southern California’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events, would collect information about Muslim communities in the Los Angeles area in an effort to identify who the Muslims are and where the Muslims reside.
During his October 30, testimony before the before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Los Angeles Commander Michael P. Downing discussed this plan. The nature and scope of the plan is unclear from this testimony and numerous questions remained unanswered. What is clear, however, is that the plan singles out individuals for investigation, surveillance, and data collection based solely on religion, which is a form of religious profiling. In addition to obvious constitutional concerns that such a practice would violate equal protection and burden the free exercise of religion, religious profiling will engender fear and lack of trust in the community which will, in turn, hinder law enforcement efforts.
Once the Muslims in the Los Angeles area are identified, then the LAPD would then, according to Downing‘s written testimony, “take a deeper look at their history, demographics, language, culture, ethnic background, socio-economic status, and social interactions.” In an interview with the Congressional Quarterly (Nov 1), Downing said he hopes to complete the community mapping plan by this Spring and, “if its successful, he believes it could be transmittable, at least in part, to other major U.S. cities.”
ADC Communications Director Laila Al-Qatami said, “ADC supports efforts to keep our country safe and to prevent violence, extremism, and terrorism, but is deeply concerned with the emerging details of this plan. In terms of potential risk factors, Downing‘s testimony cites the use of non-mainstream media as a possible indicator of extremist ideology and inclination, ADC raises serious objections to that idea. Additionally the implications of how much data will be collected, and with whom it will be shared, raises obvious privacy concerns, particularly in these times of warrantless wiretapping and illegal surveillance.”