The American Civil Liberties Union on Thursday called on the Justice Department to investigate the efforts by New York’s police department to conduct surveillance in Muslim communities.
In a letter signed by 125 state and national organizations, the ACLU said the Justice Department’s civil rights division should open a probe into the “unlawful religious profiling and suspicionless surveillance of Muslims in NYC and beyond.”
“Putting a class of Americans under surveillance based on their religion is a clear violation of our Constitution’s guarantees of equality and religious freedom,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project. “The NYPD’s surveillance program has stigmatized Muslims as suspect and had deeply negative effects on their free speech, association and religious practice.”
Citing NYPD documents and an investigative series of articles on the NYPD’s secret intelligence operations by the Associated Press, the ACLU said that the New York police have sent paid infiltrators into mosques, student associations and other locations to take photos, write down license-plate numbers and keep notes on people because they are Muslim.
Police have said that the surveillance has led to the dismantlement of several terror plots in NYC, and called it legitimate.