Report: NYPD Spy Program Traumatized Muslim Communities

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 A year and a half after the Associated Press exposed the New York Police Department’s sprawling surveillance program targeting Muslims, three civil liberties groups have detailed the corrosive impact the program had on the students, families and worshippers who were watched.

The report, “Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and its Impact on American Muslims,” documents a pervasive sense of anxiety and self-censorship in area Muslim communities. The 57 students, business owners, educators and community leaders quoted in the report also expressed a fear of police and city officials that permeated nearly every aspect of their daily lives.

“We’ve been talking about [NYPD spying] as a civil rights issue and as a constitutional issue without understanding that this is [also] about human beings, their religious institutions, and about students chilled on their campuses,” Linda Sarsour, the coordinator of the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, told Colorlines.com yesterday after a press conference at One Police Plaza.

Sarsour’s group collaborated with the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and a City University of New York project called Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR) to produce the report, which they sought to deliver to Police Commissioner Ray Kelly after the press rollout.

Police officials have denied the human impact of the surveillance, claiming that because it was conducted in secret, it didn’t affect people’s day-to-day activities. But many of the Muslims quoted in the report—often on condition of anonymity—note that even before the Associated Press revealed the scale of the surveillance program, community members knew they were being watched. The AP’s Pulitzer Prize-winning investigation simply confirmed their worst fears: that there were undercover agents and a web of closed-circuit cameras capturing their every move, and that some of their fellow mosque-goers and classmates were actually informants. Read more here on Colorlines.