Religious and community organizations rallied and held prayers Downtown Friday to protest what they say is the undercover profiling of Muslims by the New York City Police Department. NY1’s Dean Meminger filed the following report.
Muslims said during a rally Friday that they want Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to put a stop to what they call the New York City Police Department spying on them.
“They are sending in informants, people who look like us, who speak like us to try to rake out what they say are potential terrorists, which we don't have in our communities,” said one protester.
Muslims say this is causing a mistrust of others Muslims and police. On Friday, members of the Muslim community gathered to protest and pray in Foley Square, right in the middle of city, state and federal buildings. Then they marched past police headquarters.
"The NYPD has had its nefarious dealings for quite a while now. There is no need for it. We are taxpaying citizens. It’s like I'm being black twice. I'm Muslim and I’m black and I have to go through this? It’s not right,” said one protester.
Commissioner Kelly said the department isn't breaking laws or targeting Muslims.
"We follow leads, we do what we believe is necessary to protect this city pursuant to the law. We have a battery of very experienced, well-trained lawyers that advise us on all of our tactics and operations, so I categorically deny the allegation," said Kelly.
However, attorney Lamis Deek said internal police documents that were leaked show officers are spying on Muslims, including children.
"I saw the documents myself, and I have to say there were several elementary schools, Muslim elementary schools, listed,” said Deek. “They can deny it all they want.”
Protesters said they feel as if they can't practice their religion freely. They say they want an independent investigation of the NYPD surveillance of their community.
Activists say innocent people are being accused of plotting terrorist crimes.
"Too many to count, the Newburgh Four case was a case of entrapment, the Fort Dix Five case was a case of entrapment," said one protester.
The activists say they are urging people not to talk to the police about anything without lawyers present.