NEWARK, N.J. — Gov. Chris Christie has reassured Muslim leaders he remains troubled by the way the New York Police Department conducted surveillance of Muslim communities in New Jersey — even though his administration has said it was legal — but again stopped short of criticizing the spying itself.
The governor has said little publicly about his administration’s findings in late May that the NYPD did not violate state laws in its multistate surveillance, which included infiltrating student groups, videotaping mosque-goers or collecting license plates when they prayed. The findings angered Muslim leaders.
But at a Ramadan dinner he hosted in late July at the governor’s residence in Princeton, he did repeat his limited criticism of the operations, focusing on the lack of communication with law enforcement agencies in New Jersey, according to a cellphone video of his remarks posted online by an attendee.
“As much as the folks in New York may think they know us, they don’t,” the governor said. “Nor would they hesitate for a moment in raising the same objections I’m raising if the shoe were on the other foot. If we were to be going into New York all the time, invading their space, and not advising the almighty NYPD, you can imagine the ruckus we would hear from Commissioner (Raymond) Kelly and Mayor (Michael) Bloomberg and the gang on the other side of the Hudson River.”
Several Ramadan dinner attendees said they were disappointed Christie framed the NYPD actions as a violation of state sovereignty, instead of civil rights.