OCTOBER 14, 2015 (NEW YORK, NY). THE MUSLIM AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES COALITION (MACLC) COMMENDS THE RECENT RULING OF THE U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT ALLOWING NEW JERSEY MUSLIMS TO PROCEED WITH THEIR LAWSUIT CHALLENGING THE NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT’S SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM.
American Muslim communities in the greater New York City area who bear the brunt of the NYPD’s suspicionless surveillance have maintained for years that the police program is both harmful and unlawful. Those communities organized and responded in many ways, including with MACLC’s report, Mapping Muslims, detailing the harms of NYPD surveillance, and through Raza v. City of New York, a lawsuit challenging the spying program’s constitutionality here in New York. With its ruling, the federal appeals court echoes and vindicates the concerns of those targeted communities.
It was not lost on the court that the struggle of American Muslims today mirrors other shameful episodes in our country’s history and prior abuses by law enforcement against marginalized groups.
“What occurs here in one guise is not new. We have been down similar roads before. Jewish-Americans during the Red Scare, African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, and Japanese-Americans during World War II are examples that readily spring to mind. We are left to wonder why we cannot see with foresight what we see so clearly with hindsight…”
Now, as a result of this ruling, the New Jersey plaintiffs will hopefully have their day in court. “Communities here in New York City have heard disappointingly little on NYPD surveillance from Mayor Bill de Blasio since he took office,” noted Naz Ahmad, Staff Attorney at the CLEAR project (Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility) at CUNY School of Law. “This victory for our allies in New Jersey opens up an important avenue for transparency and accountability over NYPD surveillance.”
MACLC calls on Mayor de Blasio and the City Council to exercise their oversight and control prerogatives in order to finally rein in the NYPD’s suspicionless surveillance program. “It’s just sad that New Jersey is now ahead of our city when it comes to checking NYPD surveillance,” said Linda Sarsour, Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York. “Our own elected Mayor and City Councilmembers should be at the forefront, denouncing NYPD spying practices that single out a community on the basis of religion.”
The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC) is a New York-based coalition of citizens, community and faith leaders, organizers, advocates, attorneys, and organizations including Muslim Community Network. MACLC aims to give voice to absent perspectives on issues of national security, counterterrorism, law enforcement, and civil rights, especially as they impact Muslim communities in post-9/11 New York City.