End Police Surveillance of Local Muslims

Target: New York Civil Liberties Union

Goal: Support the New York Civil Liberties Union for taking positive action to end targeted police surveillance against New York Muslims.

On February 4, 2013 the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) filed a motion in a Manhattan court that aims to bring an end to the surveillance of innocent Muslims by New York police. The motion is supported by the testimonies of New York residents who admitted, last year, to being paid informants for the NYPD. These informants testified that they visited mosques and other areas of Muslim gathering to collect intelligence.

The NYPD is only allowed to conduct surveillance if it suspects criminal activity, under the 1985 settlement known as the Handschu Agreement. Under the agreement, the NYPD would be violating First Amendment rights if it continued to spy on innocent civilians. The New York Civil Liberties Union believes that local Muslims have been under surveillance for more than a decade–since the September 2011 attacks. Testimonies from New York resident informants suggest that the surveillance involves listening for specific words and phrases, and taking photographs of individual Muslims. One such informant, Shamiur Rahman, stated that one of his first assignments was to “spy on a lecture at the Muslim Student Association at John Jay College in Manhattan […] My NYPD boss Steve told me to take pictures at the group’s events, to determine who belonged to the group and to identify its leadership. I took pictures of people in the group and recorded the license plate numbers of their cars.”

The NYCLU is demanding that a federal judge order the NYPD to cease its unlawful surveillance of Muslims immediately. It is a violation of NYPD agreements and a desecration of civil liberties. There is no indication of any crimes or criminal links in the organizations or individuals who have been investigated. The NYCLU’s motion is a positive step towards the end of surveillance that does nothing to detect or end crime. Sign the petition below to support the motion and the action it demands of federal judges.


Dear New York Civil Liberties Union,

Recently, your group filed papers aiming to put an end to NYPD investigations into innocent New York Muslims who have no affiliation with criminal activities. The New York Police Department’s alleged surveillance of New York Muslims and Muslim organizations has been taking place for approximately a decade; it has gone on far too long.

I am writing to applaud and support your action against this violation of civil liberties. The Muslims of New York should not feel criminalized in their own homes. Such investigations do not promote safety – they only create fear and decrease confidence in authority forces. Your motion to end such unlawful surveillance of New York Muslims is a positive step.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Garry Knight via Flickr

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