Arab Americans and/or American Muslims have been unfairly targeted for surveillance of their businesses, homes, and mosques by the NYPD’s Intelligence Division, aided by the FBI and CIA. Like all racial, ethnic, and religious profiling, this practice is unconstitutional and un-American. It’s also ultimately counterproductive because it fosters suspicion and undermines decades of cooperation and trust-building between the NYPD and Arab American and American Muslim communities. It stretches NYPD surveillance abilities too thin by wasting precious police resources on individuals who have no reason to be suspected of terrorism.
The NYPD’s surveillance program is run by the Demographics Unit, the very existence of which NYPD officials have refused to acknowledge. According to AP reporting, officers from the Demographics Unit mapped restaurants, stores, mosques, and community centers in predominantly Muslim neighborhoods. The people under surveillance were not suspected of any crime; they were spied upon merely because they were suspected of being Muslim or Arab.
This situation is made even worse by a troubling level of federal support for the NYPD’s surveillance program. NYPD officers have received intelligence training from the CIA, and high-ranking CIA officers have been detailed to assist in their efforts. The costs of the NYPD surveillance program have been partially covered by $135 million in grants from the federal government to the NYPD. The use of federal money for unwarranted surveillance of Muslims gives this program an undeserved seal of approval, and the federal government must determine its role in this spying program and withdraw all federal support.
The NYPD’s racial profiling program is immoral, counterproductive, and goes against the very values that define us a nation. Please join us in calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to direct the Justice Department’s Special Litigation Section to open an investigation into the NYPD’s violation of the civil rights of countless Americans.