Late last month it was revealed that the New York Police Department (NYPD) has made it standard practice to label Mosques as terrorist organizations in an effort to secretly infiltrate and surveil members of the Muslim community years at a time. These actions have been carried out without any evidence of criminal wrong-doing, and have sparked understandable outrage among New York residents, Muslims, and civil rights advocates. Members of Mosques designated as "terrorist organizations" will be considered a “potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance.” Making the rights of any Muslim affiliated with the Mosque null and void, and vulnerable to illegal and indefinite surveillance as well as other abuses.
The NYPD for too long has operated outside the rule of law. Through use of labels such as "terrorist organizations" and " terrorism enterprise investigations" the NYPD continues empowering itself to further stigmatize and spy on innocent Americans under the rubric of the "war on terror." Reports also state that officers had gone under cover, spied on leaders, and infiltrated executive board meetings.
The ACLU, as well as other civil liberties organizations, have filed law suits against the NYPD claiming their surveillance violates the constitution. Mayor Bloomberg denies these claims. Regardless, Muslims and other New Yorkers have spoken out against these blatant assaults on our civil liberties. Muslims post 9-11 have received an unfair amount of scrutiny that has made it difficult to be openly Muslim and more likely to be profiled on account of phenotype. The Council for American Islamic Relations, or CAIR, has released a joint statement, along with other interfaith and civil liberties organizations, calling on the NYPD to “acknowledge this wrongdoing,[and] immediately cease all such activities." Unsurprisingly, after years of secretive investigation, no charges have ever been brought forward convicting a Mosque for plotting an attack. The NYPD has lost a lot of trust with minority communities in New York, and unless major changes are made to the force, communities will continue to feel scrutinized and will suffer.
Though extremely expansive, surveillance of the Muslim community is only one aspect of the NYPD's unlawful engagement with NYC residents. A recent video put out by The Nation illustrates illustrates how destructive and predatory the stop and frisk program has been to the broader NYC community.