Two civil rights groups will argue their appeal to overturn a court’s decision that allowed the NYPD to surveil Muslim communities as part of an anti-terrorism campaign. Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights will convene in a Philadelphia courtroom on Tuesday to make their case that the NYPD violated the rights of Muslims by profiling them as potential suspects based on their religious demographics. The unit in charge of the surveillance was called the Demographics Unit.
According to Commercial Appeal:
The plaintiffs include a U.S. soldier, a school principal and several Rutgers University students.
They argue that last year’s ruling from U.S. District Judge William Martini of Newark gives police the authority to violate their civil rights.
The case involves the New York Police Department’s decision to spy on Muslim groups at mosques, restaurants and schools since 2002.
Martini wrote that police could not keep an eye “on Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself.”
The program first came to the public’s attention through a series of Pulitzer Prize-winning articles by the Associated Press. Remarkably, Judge Martini claimed in his ruling that “the AP — and not police —would be responsible for any harm that ensued.”
If the previous ruling is in fact overturned, it could have real effects on current policies. Despite the disbanding of the Demographics Unit, the New York Times reported in May of last year that a new division called the Citywide Debriefing Team is carrying on the efforts to target Muslims.