Finally, the NYPD unit responsible for the department’s widespread spying on Muslim communities has been disbanded. The Demographics Unit sent infiltrators into student groups, surveilled mosques, and collected data on the daily comings and goings of Muslim people in the city and New Jersey. According to an NYPD chief’s testimony in 2012, it generated no potential terrorism leads in six years.
Bill de Blasio called the dismantling of the unit a “critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve, so that our cops and our citizens can help one another go after the real bad guys.”
According to the AP, after a review of the Demographics Unit’s practices, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton found that “the same information collected by the unit could be better collected through direct contact with community groups.” Given that this is the NYPD we’re talking about, however, it’s unclear whether simply doing away with the division that perpetuated civilian spying will end the practice altogether altogether. “This was definitely a part of the big puzzle that we’re trying to get dismantled,” said Arab American Association of New York executive director Linda Sarsour. “This doesn’t necessarily prove to us yet that these very problematic practices are going to end.”
(Photo: @Dave Hosford)