The American Civil Liberties Union today urged the Justice Department to probe the surveillance of Muslim Americans by the New York City Police Department.
Joined by a coalition of more than 120 state and national organizations including the NAACP and the National Network for Arab American Communities, the ACLU wrote in a letter to acting Assistant Attorney General Jocelyn Samuels that the Civil Rights Division should investigate “unlawful religious profiling and suspicionless surveillance of Muslims in New York City and beyond.”
Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau, said that “just as the Civil Rights Division has investigated and sanctioned police departments for biased profiling based on race and ethnicity, it should investigate the NYPD for profiling based on religion.”
In June, the New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the NYPD over its surveillance of Muslim communities, alleging the police department had unconstitutionally infringed upon religious freedoms.
At the time, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne told Reuters that officers would continue to use such tactics as part of the department’s counterterrorism procedures.
“Critics who suggest that it is unlawful for the police department to search online, visit public places, or map neighborhoods either haven’t read the guidelines or are intentionally obfuscating their meaning,” Browne said.