American-Muslims Protest New York Police Tactics


New York: Braving cold weather, hundreds of American-Muslims staged a rally in front of New York Police headquarters on Friday to protest a decade of police infiltrating mosques and spying on Muslim neighborhoods.

The placard-waving and slogan-chanting protesters, bundled in winter clothes, marched to the building after offering their Friday prayers in a public square in lower Manhattan. “Being Muslim does not negate our nationality,” Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid told the crowd.

“We are unapologetically Muslim and uncompromisingly American,” he said, adding, “We want you to respect us… and we will respect you.”

It was the first organized opposition to the NYPD’s intelligence tactics since an Associated Press investigation revealed widespread spying programs that documented every aspect of Muslim life in New York.

“Had this been happening to any other religious group, all of America would be outraged,” said one protester.

Following the prayer service, the Muslims joined by about 50 Occupy Wall Street demonstrators crowded the sidewalk for the short walk to the large police headquarters building known as One Police Plaza.

They stayed only briefly, chanting for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s ouster, before returning to the Foley Square. Protesters carried signs that said “NYPD Watches Us. Who Watches NYPD?” A dozen or so uniformed police officers monitored the demonstration and followed the march, but there were no clashes between protesters and police.

At an unrelated news conference on Friday, Kelly told reporters that he “categorically denied” the idea that the NYPD was spying. Kelly said his officers only follow leads and do not simply trawl neighborhoods. “We do what we believe necessary to protect this city, pursuant to the law,” Kelly said. “We have a battery of very experienced, well-trained lawyers that advise us on all of our tactics and operations.”

Outside the department, however, there is little oversight of the Intelligence Division and its roughly $60 million budget. The City Council is not told about all the department’s secret operations and city auditors have not scrutinized the unit since it was transformed after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Some of its tactics, such as monitoring name changes, would not be allowed by the FBI because of civil liberties concerns. – Daily Times




Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.