New Program Could Be Throwback to NYPD Surveillance/FBI Threats

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30th, 2015

New Program Could Be Throwback to NYPD Surveillance/FBI Threats

On September 29th, following the U.N. “Leaders Summit on Countering ISIL and Violent Extremism,” NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio and U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the launch of the “Strong Cities Network” (SCN). SCN proposes to connect local governments, which have implemented “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) programs in an effort to “counter domestic and global terror threats” through “systematic efforts to share experiences, pool resources, and build a community of cities to inspire local action on a global scale.”

The Muslim Community Network (MCN) is committed to the continued strength of New York and the communities within it, and thanks Mayor DeBlasio for his interactions with the American-Muslim community in NYC. However, while the SCN proposal seems like a commendable effort, the MCN and other civil liberties groups have expressed concerns about the implications of CVE programs in their specific targeting of the American-Muslim community, particularly with New York City’s recent history with the community.

In 2011, the Associate Press revealed in its ongoing investigation that the NYPD had systematically spied on Muslim-Americans, both inside and outside the City. Surveillance included mosques, Muslim businesses and university groups. Perhaps most surprising was the revelation that over the six-year span of surveillance of the Muslim community in and around NYC, the intel yielded no leads and no new terror cases. It succeeded only in disenfranchising an entire community, sowing the seeds of distrust between American-Muslims and law enforcement, leading to the eventual dismantling of the NYPD surveillance unit.

Coupled with the FBI’s problematic history of using No-Fly lists to coerce Muslims into becoming informants, the precedent for CVE programs, and by extension, SCN, is troubling. This is why MCN and other civil liberties organizations are urging the DeBlasio administration to remain transparent, and maintain clear accountability and communication with the American-Muslim community in New York City. We would like to request a clear set of guidelines to prevent abuse and “information-sharing” tactics that will further alienate the community. The DeBlasio administration has kept an open-door policy with the Muslim community in New York, and it is our hope that they continue to do so.

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Contact: Christina Tasca | Christina.Tasca@mcnny.org | 646-481-1772

About Muslim Community Network: The Muslim Community Network develops the capacity of Muslim New Yorkers and their allies to fully participate in the social and political landscape of New York City. For more information, visit http://www.MCNNY.org.