(NEW YORK, N.Y., 4/15/14) — The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today welcomed a decision by the New York Police Department (NYPD) to disband a special unit that conducted widespread warrantless surveillance of law-abiding Muslims.
That surveillance was part of a comprehensive human mapping program that described and monitored Islamic institutions, including houses of worship, student groups and businesses that cater to the Muslim community. The NYPD also recruited informants it referred to as “mosque crawlers” to monitor religious sermons without any suspicion of wrongdoing. Police officials acknowledge that the program never generated a criminal lead.
In a statement, said CAIR-NY Board President Ryan Mahoney said:
“CAIR-NY welcomes the closing of the NYPD Zone Assessment Unit. This is an important first step. However, the damage of unconstitutional mass spying on people solely on the basis of their religion has already been carried out and must be addressed. We need to hear from the mayor and NYPD officials that the policy itself has been ended and that the department will no longer apply mass surveillance or other forms of biased and predatory policing to any faith-based community.”
Mahoney added that it is important to recognize the efforts of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC), of which CAIR-NY is a member, in bringing about this change in NYPD policy.
In 2013, CAIR-NY, along with a number of other civil rights organizations, urged the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate violations of the constitutional rights of Muslims by the NYPD.