Updated 01/25/2012 11:57 PM
Police Commissioner Kelly Apologies For Provocative Film About Muslims Shown To NYPD
While Police Commissioner Ray Kelly apologized Wednesday for his involvement in a provocative film about Islam that was screened for city police officers, outraged Muslim activists are still calling for Kelly and one of his top aides to step down. NY1's Criminal Justice reporter Dean Meminger filed the following report.
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Producers say the film "The Third Jihad" is a documentary that educates about the threat of radical Islam in the United States. But Muslim groups say the movie targets them as terrorists and haters of America, and it has landed the Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and his deputy commissioner for public information, Paul Browne, on the hot seat.
Read your thoughts on the controversial film and the NYPD's relationship with Muslim New Yorkers.
In a statement released Wednesday night, Kelly said in 2007 he had agreed to be interviewed by a filmmaker who had worked with Dateline NBC and the White House, and that the resulting film, "The Third Jihad," was "regrettably" screened in a break room for city police officers in 2010.
Kelly says, "When a police officer offended by its content brought it to the attention of Department officials, it was withdrawn. I offer my apologies to members of the Muslim community, in particular, who would find the film inflammatory and its airing on Department property, though unauthorized, to be inappropriate."
He also said that the film "never became part of the Department’s curriculum, and was not authorized for any training."
Browne initially said the film's producers used old news clips of Kelly, but he changed his story when the producers of "The Third Jihad" said Kelly sat with them for 90 minutes.
In a Wednesday statement, Browne seems to shoulder the blame, saying, "Commissioner Kelly said the video was objectionable and that he should not have agreed to the interview five years ago, when I recommended it."
A still from "The Third Jihad
Muslim activists are outraged that nearly 1,500 officers saw it when it played at at a terrorism training facility for the New York City Police Department, and that Kelly and Browne at first denied it.
"Ray Kelly and Paul Browne have been caught in their lies about their roles in this film, the Muslim community is calling for their resignation immediately," said Cyrus McGoldrick of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "It is terrible that this would be presented to our law enforcement officers as fact, as something that should be informing their counterterrorism work. It is destructive."
For many Muslim New Yorkers, this is the latest in a line of complaints about the NYPD. They say they have been spied on and profiled as potential terrorists. But the NYPD denies that, insisting it is protecting the city.
In the 10 years Ray Kelly has been police commissioner he has transformed parts of the NYPD into what could be called a major military force to battle terrorism.
But some say is it going too far.
"Benjamin Franklin said if you sacrifice your liberties for the sake of security then you deserve neither," said Zead Ramadan of CAIR.
Activists say they will go to City Hall to demand that Kelly and Browne resign.