Court Ruling in Favor of NYPD Surveillance Further Erodes Civil Liberties

February 24, 2014

MPAC expressed its disappointment with a federal ruling that the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey was “a lawful effort to prevent terrorism.” Eight plaintiffs brought the suit, filed by the Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy & educational organization, against New York City claiming that the NYPD infringed on their civil liberties with its mass surveillance of Muslim communities in New Jersey.

Muslim Advocates

SEE: “Spying on NJ Muslims by NYPD Was Legal” (ABC News)

U.S. District Judge William Martini ruled in favor of the NYPD’s spying program by stating “the police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself.”

Completely ignoring the surveillance itself, Martini placed the blame on the Associated Press for exposing the program. He ignored the fact that civil liberties were violated when NYPD targeted of an entire community because of its faith.

Martini’s ruling encourages the application of weaker law enforcement practices that focus on religion as opposed to criminal actions and behavior. Terrorism has no religion. Martini’s false rationale connecting an entire faith community to terrorism shows not only his ignorance, but furthers the demonization of the American Muslim community in both public opinion and judicial opinion.

MPAC encourages New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to demonstrate their leadership by curbing intrusive surveillance policies and engaging diverse communities in New York in order to establish partnerships to keep New York safe and make communities a part of the process.

Historically, the courts have not always ruled on the right side. Seventy-two years ago, the Supreme Court ruled against civil rights activist Fred Korematsu, stating that he must go to an internment camp because internment was lawful in the name of national security. We now agree that decision was a stain on our nation’s history. Judge Martini’s ruling last week has chipped away at the civil liberties and civil rights progress we have made since.

At the federal level, this ruling also highlights the necessity for the Department of Justice to amend the 2003 profiling guidelines to include religion, ethnic origin and sexual orientation. We look forward to the new DOJ guidelines to not only be revised, but to also be implemented.

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