New Jersey Muslims filed a lawsuit today against the City of New York, citing invasive, discrimanatory and unlawful surveillance that infringes upon their lives and 1st Amendment rights. The suit, Hassan, et al. v. City of New York, was filed by Muslim Advocates, a prominent national advocacy group.
Back in February, the AP released a report that detailed the extent to which the NYPD investigated and surveilled businesses, organizations and Muslim individuals in New Jersey. As the internet is apt to do, satiric “NYPD’s Fascist Zagat” tweeted the banal droll of its documentation such as “Deli and Grocery: Typical deli and grocery store.”
In the lawsuit filed today, multiple plaintiffs detail Ray Kelly and the NYPD’s invasive tactics. Moiz Mohammed, a full-time Rutgers student in molecular biology is suing the city for being a subject of surveillance and unfairly targeted. Unity Beef Sausage Company, a NJ halal meat company, alleges that business has dropped since the NYPD’s surveillance program was revealed. Another plaintiff in the lawsuit is Syed Farhaj Hassan, a Specialist in the Army who served fourteen months of active duty in Iraq and received numerous medals and honors. “I joined the military to serve and protect my family and my country,” he said.
Other instances of surveillance include:
- Records show the NYPD took pictures of an elementary school for Muslim girls for grades pre-K-6.
- Records show that the NYPD lurked outside a mosque in Paterson, New Jersey, noting: “Place Mosque under observation before and during Jumma (Friday Prayers), record license plates and capture video and photographic record of those in attendance. Pay special attention to all NY State License plates.”
- Records show that the NYPD eavesdropped at Muslim owned grocery stores, noting the ethnicity and outfits patrons and workers wore.
- Records also show that the NYPD extensively noted whenever a grocery store carried food products that were labeled “halal,” which is akin to “kosher” for Muslims.
Representative Rush Holt America (D-NJ) commented on the wasteful and fruitless results of the NYPD’s surveillance programs. “America is not safer when we spend valuable law enforcement resources on investigating the innocent multitudes rather than identifying the guilty few. This lawsuit is a thoughtful, sensible step toward bringing law enforcement practices back into line with constitutional protections and the standards of good policing.”
NYPD Spokesman Paul Browne responded by equating Muslims with terrorists. He told NPR that the investigation’s findings of “NYPD activities in New Jersey were lawful, appropriate and in keeping with efforts there, in New York and around the world to prevent terrorists from returning here to kill more New Yorkers.”
(Photo: Jagz Mario/Flickr)