Muslims criticize Bloomberg veto of NYPD watchdog

Muslim-American civil rights groups are criticizing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for vetoing a bill on Tuesday (July 23) that would have created an independent inspector general to oversee the New York City Police Department.
The New York City Council passed the bill June 27 as a check against controversial NYPD policies that critics say violate the civil rights of Muslim and other minority New Yorkers. Reports that the NYPD spied on mosques, Muslim businesses, organizations and students began surfacing in 2011.
Critics say the surveillance program has caused many Muslims to stop going to Islamic institutions or speaking out in public, worried it could land them in legal troubles.

NYC criminal justice college president says he is troubled by NYPD monitoring of campus group

NEW YORK — The president of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice said he is “deeply troubled” about reports that the New York Police Department sent a paid informant to spy on the school’s club for Muslim students.

School President Jeremy Travis sent a letter to students and professors Thursday reacting to an Associated Press report on the 19-year-old informant, Shamiur Rahman, who said he quit working for the NYPD at the end of the summer after growing uncomfortable with the job.

Rahman said his assignments included attending lectures hosted by John Jay’s Muslim Student Association, photographing people attending its events, and identifying its members and leaders.

In the letter, Travis said he was unaware of the spying, and expressed concerns about using informants for surveillance where there was no evidence of a crime.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended the department’s intelligence-gathering operation as necessary to root out any potential terrorist plots.

Bloomberg says religion not a factor for NYPD but documents suggest otherwise

NEW YORK — The New York Police Department collected information on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims, according to newly obtained secret documents. They show in the clearest terms yet that police were monitoring people based on religion, despite claims from Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the contrary.

The NYPD has faced intense criticism from Muslims, lawmakers — and even the FBI — for widespread spying operations that put entire neighborhoods under surveillance. Police put the names of innocent people in secret files and monitored the mosques, student groups and businesses that make up the Muslim landscape of the northeastern U.S.
Bloomberg has defended his department’s efforts, saying they have kept the city safe, were completely legal and were not based on religion.

Muslim groups, interfaith leaders plan rally in wake of NYPD intel report on surveillance

NEW YORK — Muslim groups and interfaith leaders are holding a rally in the wake of a report about New York Police Department intelligence.

The rally is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday, January 3, 2012, at Manhattan’s Foley Square. It will be followed by a march to police headquarters.

A secret police document shows that the NYPD recommended increasing surveillance of thousands of Muslims and their mosques based solely on their religion.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the May 2006 NYPD intelligence report on Iran. It says police should expand clandestine operations at Shiite mosques.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the NYPD never considers religion in its policing. Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has said police only go where investigative leads take them.

NYC councilman calls for creation of inspector general’s office to oversee police department

NEW YORK — A New York City councilman is calling for the creation of an inspector general’s office to oversee the police department.

Two lawyers with the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University called Monday for such an office in a New York Times opinion piece. Democratic City Councilman Brad Lander echoed them in an interview with news website Capital and says he’s working to formulate a proposal.

The opinion piece cited a movie shown to police trainees that critics say paints Muslims negatively. It also noted an Associated Press investigation that uncovered police surveillance of Muslims.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said the city won’t turn over control of the police department to an outside entity.

Ray Kelly Resignation Called For By Muslims Angered By Anti-Islam Movie

NEW YORK — Muslim groups are calling for New York’s police commissioner to step down because of his appearance in a film they say puts their religion and its adherents in a bad light.

About 20 activists held a news conference on the steps of City Hall on Thursday and criticized Ray Kelly for giving an interview to the producers of the movie “The Third Jihad.”

The movie uses dramatic footage to warn against the dangers of radical Islam and shariah, or Islamic law. Muslim groups say it encourages Americans to be suspicious of all Muslims.

“Terrorism is an evil that must be eliminated, but one cannot fight wrong with wrong,” said Talib Abdur-Rashid, a Muslim cleric.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Thursday he stood by Kelly and the commissioner’s spokesman, Paul Browne. Activists had also demanded Browne’s resignation.

However, the mayor said Kelly would have to redouble his outreach efforts to Muslims.

“Anything like this doesn’t help credibility, so Ray’s got to work at establishing, re-establishing or reinforcing the credibility that he does have,” Bloomberg said.

NYC Mayor Defends Kelly, but Says Anti-Muslim Film Caused Damage

As his administration faces a firestorm over a video shown to hundreds of police officers that depicted Muslims as extremists, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg conceded on Thursday that the episode had damaged relations between the city’s Islamic community and the Police Department.

While the mayor defended the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, who has apologized for the showing of the film to officers, he acknowledged that Mr. Kelly would have to work harder to improve trust among Muslims. The video, called “The Third Jihad” was shown for months to officers receiving anti-terrorism training.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasts use of controversial movie during NYPD training sessions

NEW YORK — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Tuesday that whoever decided to show a film depicting American Muslims as extremists to nearly 1,500 city police officers “exercised some terrible judgment.”

Bloomberg said police have stopped showing officers “The Third Jihad,” a 72-minute movie that has been branded inflammatory by some Muslim organizations and was produced by a conservative group called the Clarion Fund.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Tuesday that New York police used “terrible judgment” in showing counterterrorism trainees a documentary-style film that says Muslim extremists are masquerading as moderates to destroy America from within.

Mr. Bloomberg said that neither he nor the police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, had known at the time that the film, “The Third Jihad,” was being shown to officers. Speaking to reporters after testifying here at a state budget hearing, Mr. Bloomberg said that the film had not been shown at the Police Academy.

“It was done someplace else and as soon as they found out about it they stopped it and took it down,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “Somebody exercised some terrible judgment. I don’t know who. We’ll find out.”

When the screening of the film for some officers was first revealed last year by Tom Robbins of The Village Voice, the Police Department’s main spokesman, Paul J. Browne, said it had been screened “a couple of times.”

No Room for Tolerance (NY Times Editorial)

There have been a slew of local controversies in the past decade over the proposed construction of mosques and Islamic community centers. Mayor Michael Bloomberg rightly stood up for religious liberty against vitriolic opposition to the construction of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan. With the mayor’s support, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously allowed the project to proceed and it is, slowly.

Such good sense is not as common as it should be. This spring, officials in Bridgewater, N.J., opposed a plan to turn an old inn, formerly used for weddings and political events, into the town’s only mosque. Rather than stand up to the opposition, stirred up partly by the Tea Party, the mayor, the township council and the planning board raced to change the zoning rules so that a house of worship would no longer be a permitted use on the inn’s property.

2 men arrested in New York, accused of plotting to blow up synagogue

Two men who officials said complained that Muslims “were being treated like dogs” were accused Thursday of conspiring to blow up a synagogue and were being held on terrorism and hate-crime charges in New York.

The men were arrested Wednesday night while they buying guns and an inert hand grenade from undercover officers, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said at an afternoon news conference attended by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Manhattan Dist. Atty. Cyrus R. Vance Jr. The case began before the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden on May 2 during a U.S. raid in Pakistan.

Officials called it the 13th attempted attack by Islamic militants on New York since Sept. 11, 2001.