The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the New York City Police Department has labeled entire mosques terrorist organizations, and the Council on American Islamic Relations of New York responded by calling on the Department of Justice to investigate and monitor the NYPD. NY1's Michael Herzenberg filed the following report.
Several Islamic and Arab-American groups expressed outrage at the Associated Press' revelations that the New York City Police Department opened at least a dozen investigations into mosques in the last dozen years.
"We are tired of the violation of the civil rights of Muslim New Yorkers," said Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York. "I am a New Yorker, I am an American, and I'm running a social service agency."
The Arab American Association of New York initiates programs that aim to help Arab immigrants adjust and become productive members of society.
"This is a new level of low for the New York Police Department. Our organization will not stand for it," Sarsour said. "And as we were inviting [Police] Commissioner [Ray] Kelly and his leadership into our mosque, into our institutions, he was coming through the back door."
The AP revealed that police tried to plant informants on the Arab American Association board as well as targeting mosques like the Islamic Society of Bay Ridge.
The report reveals that police used "terrorism enterprise investigations." The TEIs are confidential police documents that, among other things, allow informants to follow and record imams often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
"This is something that's monitored by a federal judge," Kelly said. "There are four levels of investigation. This is one of the levels of the investigation. It's a term used in the federal government. It's used by the NYPD."
Kelly said that investigators do not target locations, but look at people, and follow leads wherever they take them.
The American Civil Liberties Union and two other groups have sued the city, saying the Muslim surveillance programs are unconstitutional.
"We try to keep this city safe, totally consistent with what the laws require," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Many of the investigations have stretched on for years under a demographics unit focusing on where Muslims go.
According to the AP, the department acknowledged in court testimony that in more than six years, the unit did not create a single lead.