NYPD Faces Lawsuit Over Massive Surveillance of Muslims by Demographics Unit

at the wtc mosque protest, counter-protestcruxphotography.com/foter.comThe ACLU is suing the New York Police Department over the massive surveillance of Muslims in New York City and the greater New York area revealed by a Pulitzer Prize winning AP report in 2011. The NYPD, according to the AP’s reporting, has been acting as “one of the most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies in the country,” with help from as far up as the CIA. Subsequent reporting by the AP showed the NYPD’s operations, run under the Demographics Unit, were funded with the help of federal money from the White House. Tactics deployed included informants “baiting” Muslims to “create and capture” terror talk. Nevertheless, the chief of the NYPD intelligence division admitted in court testimony last year that the surveillance unit never produced any leads connected to actual terrorist plots.

The ACLU says it is suing because:

This discriminatory profiling and the harms it has caused our clients violate the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, and the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion and guarantee of government neutrality toward religion. Our suit asks the court to end the NYPD's Muslim surveillance program and to prevent future surveillance based solely or predominantly on religion in the absence of individualized suspicion of criminal activity. It also seeks to expunge the records of all of our clients created because of the program, and to appoint a monitor to ensure that New York City truly ends all of the unconstitutional practices inherent in its religious surveillance efforts. We hope the court recognizes that suspicionless and discriminatory surveillance based on nothing more than religious identity has no place in New York, or anywhere else.

The ACLU also offers profiles of some of the targets of the surveillance on whose behalf they are suing.

The NYPD is in the midst of a separate lawsuit about racial profiling and the stop and frisk program, on which the Obama administration chimed in at the last minute, saying it would prefer an independent monitor if the department’s found to be acting unconstitutionally. 

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Pro Libertate||

    So I was in rural North Carolina last week and went to a convenience store. The not-unusual Indian/Pakistani was at the register. He had a very deep Southern drawl. That's Southern U.S. I almost dropped my bag of ice.

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    Are those people ever going to learn how to speak proper English?

  • Rhywun||

    "Thank y'all, come again!"

  • Paul.||

    You remember that comedian from back in the 90s, maybe late 80s? Name of something like Henry Cho?

    Asian as asian can get, then he'd open his mouth and it was like listening to Larry the Cable Guy.

  • Pro Libertate||

    There's Bobby Jindal, too.

  • Jon Lester||

    You mean the ethnic Korean guy from Texas?

  • Gray Ghost||

    Loved his bit about how guys couldn't talk to women without a drink in their hand.

  • Killazontherun||

    If his name was Mike its a good chance he's a friend of mine.

  • Jon Lester||

    I'm in Georgia, and even before 9/11, I was proud of how well the shopkeepers have integrated with us.

    When I was in New York last month, I was staying near a mosque in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, including during Friday prayers. I didn't worry about any of those folks; in fact, I greatly appreciated the halal buffets, and I wish there were some where I live.

  • SugarFree||

    Go ahead! Keep your head in the sand! We're all going to die! Ahh!

    /Lylepuppet

  • mad libertarian guy||

    I didn't worry about any of those folks

    Nor should you have. You were in danger from the hipsters.

  • Jon Lester||

    Like.

  • Dibbler||

    Something about hearing extremely ethnic people speak with a southern drawl makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

    I'm sure this makes me a racist in most people's eyes. Because successful assimilation should be looked down on I guess.

  • Sidd Finch||

    My best friend (BFF!) came to the US from Taiwan in the 4th grade. Now his speech is 95% slight Southern drawl and 5% Chenglish. He occasionally gets in trouble when people have no idea he's ESL and he mixes up gender pronouns.

  • Whahappan?||

    Reminds me of my friend's mother. Pureblood Japanese, born and raised in Louisiana. Funny as shit.

  • ||

    the chief of the NYPD intelligence division admitted in court testimony last year that the surveillance unit never produced any leads connected to actual terrorist plots.

    When the FBI can't find a terrorist plot, they actively promote one so they'll have bad guys to catch. So I conclude the NYPD is not as nefarious as the FBI.

  • Robert||

    I have a friend who acted as an undercover de-esclation agent for NYPD at Occupy Wall St. His job was to cool things off if it looked like violence was threatening.

    Why can't the NYPD do that generally with Muslims? You know, prevent violence rather than provoke it? If it worked with OWS, why not with potential terrorists?

  • sarcasmic||

    So that's why New York City's chief of police is pissed at the NSA. They're muscling in on his action!

  • John||

    Don't worry ACLU. Obama is fixing this. He is going to ensure everyone in the country is under surveillance not just Muslims.

  • sarcasmic||

    And since everything is classified, no one can sue! Can't reveal classified information in court. Everyone wins. Well, everyone but the general public.

  • SugarFree||

    The government is made of people.
    People can't spy on themselves.
    Nothing the government does is spying.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh yeah. Like how the national debt doesn't matter since we owe it to ourselves.

  • SugarFree||

    Now you're getting it.

  • sarcasmic||

    Um, uh, uh, the government can never go broke because it prints money, and money is wealth!
    Hmmmm, when you stop paying an entitlement it feels like stealing, so it must be stealing! Not giving is taking!

    Shit! All I've got to do is turn off the rational part of my brain that separates human beings from animals, and it all makes sense!

  • SugarFree||

    SadBeard had a recent column where he argued against the saying "Money doesn't grow on trees."

  • sarcasmic||

    How dare you make fun of Sir Krugnuts!?!

  • PapayaSF||

    No, it's everybody under surveillance except Muslims. Must avoid the sin of "profiling."

  • Lyle||

    Yep, that's about who we are.

  • Paul.||

    the stop and frisk program, on which the Obama administration chimed in at the last minute, saying it would prefer an independent monitor if the department’s found to be acting unconstitutionally.

    Could someone let our Constitutional Law professor know that Stop and Frisk is unconstitutional by its very definition?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Let's not be to hasty. After all, how many of those people explicitly invoked their fourth ammendment rights when they complained about a cop grabbing their junk for no reason?

  • Homple||

    This may account for the bombing of the Boston Marathon instead of the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade.

    Don't rob the house with the burglar alarm and doberman; rather knock over the neighbor's unguarded domicile.

  • Paul.||

    And how many tigers have attacked me while I sit at my desk? Exactly.

  • Lyle||

    So if there is no NSA and no aggressive policing of radical Islamists mosques... how are the authorities supposed to prevent Islamist inspired terrorist attacks?

  • ||

    Shut up, moron.

  • Floridian||

    Lyle is joining the Syrian rebels to spread liberty. Show some respect epi.

  • Killazontherun||

    I hear their roasted heart of one's enemies is delicious.

  • Lyle||

    No, I won't be doing that.

    If I want my country to help the rebels out I can demand of it my country... you know, as a citizen of my country.

  • Lord Humungus||

    you know who else wanted to help the rebels out and demand of it their country?

  • Lyle||

    Who?

  • sarcasmic||

    Jar Jar Binks?

  • Dr. Frankenstein||

    The French?

  • Lord Humungus||

    sorry, Pericles was the answer.

  • DK||

    Have you notified your Congressman that you would like a vote on a Declaration of War? Or are you just happy to let the President do whatever the fuck he wants?

  • Lyle||

    No, I would like to see Congress vote on it actually. I enjoy watching Rand Paul get up and fight for such a vote.

  • Lyle||

    No thanks, but how liberty loving of you to demand me to.

  • Floridian||

    Do you not see the irony Lyle. "I can demand my country to send 18 year olds to their death, but if you ask me to put my money where my mouth is, you are a tyrant"

  • Lyle||

    My money is where my mouth is... I pay taxes.

  • sarcasmic||

    We don't?

  • SugarFree||

    His tax money goes to bombs and drones, sarc. If he doesn't get some warporn out of it, it's like he paid his taxes for nothing.

  • sarcasmic||

    If he doesn't get some warporn out of it, it's like he paid his taxes for nothing.

    So his taxes pay my salary. That's cool.

  • Gray Ghost||

    The thread yesterday where LTC John (ret.) offered to lend Lyle his gear if he wanted to go volunteer in Syria, was absolutely side-splitting.

    I don't think Lyle ever replied back...

  • Lyle||

    Oh, I did. I said I wasn't going to go multiple times.

    I asked the LTC if he was going to offer the same thing to President Obama. He never replied back though.

  • Lyle||

    You do and you can call on your country to not go to war if you want.

    Right?

  • Floridian||

    The US army is made of human being. People who signed up to DEFEND the USA. They did not sign up to be world police so they can die in a civil war that the US has no business in. Department of defense, not department of invade every country in the world.

  • Lyle||

    They volunteered to serve and follow orders.

    If they don't want to do what they're ordered to do, they shouldn't have volunteered. So if the President or Congress decides to use the armed forces as "world police" they will be used as "world police".

  • Floridian||

    They joined to uphold the constitution not be private thugs to answer to the emperor. It is in the oath.

  • sarcasmic||

    They did not sign up to be world police so they can die in a civil war that the US has no business in.

    Lots of people sign up for the opportunity to kill people. Don't really care who, where or why. Killing people is fun. It's like video games, only it's real.

  • Floridian||

    Yeah, having a proxy kill someone else makes you a tough guy.

  • ||

    We are entirely helpless without authorities to wipe our noses for us!

  • Lyle||

    So you're paying attention to Salafist and Wahhabist mosques? If so, more power to you.

  • ||

    Hey I found Lyle ! Not sure which one's him, though.

  • Lyle||

    I wish I was so pretty.

  • Homple||

    If left to itself, the free market would prevent Islamist inspired terrorist attacks.

    Also JERBS.

  • Lyle||

    How do you figure this actually?

    You sound like a Confucianist actually. If everyone just acts accordingly there will be perfect harmony.

    Yep, that's the world we live in.

  • Floridian||

    Free markets create wealth, wealth breeds peace. People who have a comfortable lifestyle tend not to want to go fight and die in the dirt.

  • Homple||

    Yeah, check out Germany, Austria, England, and France in 1914.

  • Lyle||

    Bingo.

    And wealthy American elites are always pissed off at someone... like Assad in Syria right now. Genocide bad! Never again!

  • Floridian||

    You are confusing society with government. That was a stupid suicide pact signed by people who would never have to fight. Not the average business person trying to make a living.

  • Homple||

    Whatever the average business person was doing before the summer if 1914, when the governments started thumping the war drums, the average business people and their employees and sons and a good many of the aristocracy and upper classes answered with a whoop and went off to be slaughtered.

  • Floridian||

    Which led to the destruction of Germany's economy, so of course we should be pushing for endless war in America. Gee, peace time prosperity, war time poverty. It's like you are making my point for me of why we should not get involved in Syria.

  • Homple||

    Floridian, what makes you think I want us to intervene in Syria?

  • Tman||

    PJ O'Rourke-

    " Once people get rich, they don't go in much for war-making. The shoes are ugly and the uniforms itch. Some day, Osama bin Laden will call a member of one of his "sleeper cells" - a person who was planted in the United States years before and told to live like a normal American, and...

    "Dad, some guy named Ozzy's on the phone."

    "Oh, uh, good to hear from you. Of course, of course... Rockefeller Center?... Next Wednesday?... I'd love to, but the kid's got her ballet recital. You miss something like that, they never forget it... Thursday's no good. I have to see my mom off on her cruise to Bermuda in the morning. It's Fatima's yoga day. And I've got courtside seats for the Nets... Friday, we're going to the Hamptons for the weekend...""

  • Lyle||

    It helps a lot, but the despots or the people have got to want economic liberty.

    Some people, as contrarians, want the opposite of economic liberty.

  • ||

    Yes, and some people practice cowardice in the name of courage. I'm sure you're familiar with that.

  • Homple||

    Zat so? Osama was the son of a billionaire and a good many of the self detonating Jihadis were born into comfortable middle class families. PJO is pretty funny, but I'm not sure if his analysis holds up to comparison with recent facts.

  • Homple||

    I give up. The comment reply placing system is possessed by a demon who hates me.

  • Homple||

    Turn up the sensitivity on your sarcasm detector.

  • SugarFree||

    I don't have a sarcasm detector! Those dirty Mooslims stole it!

    /Lylepuppet

  • Lyle||

    Dirty Muslims... haha, way to project something going on inside your head on to me.

  • SugarFree||

    I don't wet the bed. I'm not some bed-wetter. My fears are all rational! What I figure is that those sneaky Wabbilims are breaking into my house at night and peeing on me.

    It's the only theory that makes any sense. Because taxes.

    /Lylepuppet

  • Killazontherun||

    He may have made war on the injuns and helped bring about the decimation of their population through murder and rape but he totally respected their culture while doing it.

  • Lyle||

    Our ancestors didn't respect them enough to not end their civilizations.

    And obviously I don't respect native American culture enough to give them back the land I own.

    Property rights... not a highly sophisticated concept for native Americans. Their bad.

  • ||

    You really are an idiot. They had property rights, retard.

  • Lyle||

    Yeah, I know they did... I said their property rights weren't sophisticated.

    You disagree? They put their ownership rights down in writing? They respect the other tribes property claims year in and year out?

  • ||

    Unlike our government, which NEVER seizes property it doesn't own? Idiot.

  • Lyle||

    That government can take property means our property laws aren't sophisticated?

    Idiot, do you actually think I support the government just taking peoples' property willy nilly?

  • Lyle||

    My bad. Hat tip.

  • Floridian||

    Not sure if sarco-meter was aimed at me, but I do believe free markets can lead to a more peaceful world. As people become more affluent they read more exposing them to new ideas. They travel more exposing them to new cultures. I think the only way to fight bigotry is through exposure so that you can see that people are not the hobgoblins you have been told they are.

  • Lyle||

    It was aimed at me.

  • Homple||

    The sarcasm detector snipe should have gone here.

  • Homple||

    Gawdamighty the reply facility placement function is hosed today.

    HTML, how does it work?

  • Killazontherun||

    I'm getting font degradation as a problem in some posts but not others. It seems to be a problem exclusive to this site as well.

  • Killazontherun||

    We should commission a government study to look into that right away.

  • Calidissident||

    If there isn't aggressive policing of right wing militias and libertarian websites, how will we prevent right wing terror attacks?

    /Janet Napolitano

  • Lyle||

    Exactly. If our government is going to worry about white supremacist groups, it ought to at least be worried about violent Islamist groups.

    And it's not like violent Islamists are non-violent like some of these white supremacist groups either.

  • ||

    Don't bother, Cali. Tyranny is his favorite flavor. He actually thinks massive surveillance without individual suspicion is a GOOD thing. He loves that authoritarian cock as much as good old McCain and Cheney do.

  • Calidissident||

    I see the conserva-trolls are out today

  • WTF||

    And they're sporting their massive warboners.

  • Lyle||

    Y'all day dream about warboners a lot. Randy!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement