MPAC Welcomes NYPD Decision to End Mass Surveillance of Muslim Communities

April 16, 2014

The Muslim Public Affairs Council applauds the decision of the New York Police Department to abandon its secretive mass surveillance programs that had specifically targeted the Muslim community of New York City and surrounding areas.

READ: Police Unit That Spied on Muslims is Disbanded (New York Times)

The NYPD unit, named the Demographics Unit, “dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped.” After years of surveillance, the Unit admitted its activities never generated a single lead.

MPAC looks forward to further engaging the NYPD to forge a policing culture that uses evidence and a credible threat as a measure for action and ultimately protects the rights of Americans of all backgrounds.

“Commissioner William Bratton is steering the NYPD in the right direction toward constitutional policing including an environment for more positive engagement with the Muslim community,” said MPAC President Salam Al-Marayati. “His decision to disband the Demographics Unit highlights the model of effective engagement and the power of partnerships on the ground.”

Given MPAC’s past successes with engagement, we feel confident that MPAC and other New York area organizations will build productive relationships toward the mutual goal of police reform.

“The actions of the surveillance unit have impacted Muslims across the Northeast and beyond by classifying them as suspect communities,” said Sami Elmansoury, MPAC New York City Steering Committee member. “With our partners in the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC) and other New York-based organizations, MPAC has remained steadfast in working to ensure that the safety of New Yorkers continues to be a priority while upholding constitutionally protected civil rights and civil liberties.”

MPAC looks forward to continuing engagement with partners and the NYPD in order to prevent any future warrantless spying programs on any community, and to guarantee that any suspicion-less surveillance is deemed illegal under the law.

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