Over 100 civil rights, faith, community, and advocacy groups signed a letter sent on Monday urging the Department of Justice to commence a prompt investigation into the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslim Americans in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the groups summarize some of the gravest reports by the Associated Press of the racial profiling and surveillance of approximately 350 mosques, schools, businesses, and individuals throughout the Northeast between 2005 and 2008, despite no evidence of criminal activity. The reports include the NYPD’s use of anti-Muslim propaganda in cadet training and of informants and undercover agents in colleges to collect files containing Muslim American students’ personal information.
“We strongly urge the Civil Rights Division to commence an immediate investigation of the NYPD’s past and current practices to identify whether it has violated, or continues to violate, the Constitutional, federal or state law rights of Muslims, including their rights to equal protection of the law, free exercise, and association,” the letter addressed to Attorney General Eric Holder read.
“With the mounting evidence of these civil rights abuses, we urge the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division to investigate the NYPD’s surveillance activities,” said Nermeen Arastu, staff attorney at Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said in a statement. “The NYPD has extended its surveillance well outside of New York state, prompting members of Congress from New Jersey and elsewhere to ask for a federal investigation. This is now a national civil rights crisis, and the Justice Department must act accordingly.”
Colorlines.com’s investigative reporter Seth Freed Wessler has been following the NYPD Muslim spying scandal closely for several months. For further reading visit the archives at Colorlines.com/nypd-spying.