Posts Tagged ‘Islamophobia’

Federal Judge abandons the Constitution, and the rights of Muslim Americans

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 8:20 am by

nypd-ny-muslims-811-thumb-640xauto-3955On Thursday, February 20, a federal judge based in Newark, NJ dismissed a lawsuit against the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) large scale surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. The case of Hassan v. City of New York was brought by several individuals and organizations, with legal representation by Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Protestors face down urban shield war games in Oakland CA

Tuesday, October 29, 2013 at 1:10 pm by

Between October 25 and the 28, an intimidating list of over 150 police departments, federal law enforcement agencies and private corporations participated in a series of militarized war games using the city of Oakland California as if it was their personal playground.

The exercises unfolded as various “real world” scenarios where local law enforcement agencies competed against one another from a central “Red Command.”

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“In past years, Urban Shield has featured hostage-taking scenarios involving animal rights activists, and the bombing of an oil platform by Anarchists. In an interview, Sheriff Ahern said the scenarios are sourced from threats made to law enforcement and government agencies over the past five to ten years that have been documented by the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center. “Many of those threats have used the formats of anarchy, in the form of white supremacy, of Muslim extremism,” Ahern said. “We simply use threats we’ve received over the last five to ten years that have been documented through our regional intelligence center.” (Eastbay Express)


Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition proposes a Rapid Response Network

Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 11:03 am by

The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition (MCCRC) held a public forum on April 18 to discuss what effect “The War on Terror” has had on free expression and grassroots political organizing in Maryland and across the United States since 9/11.  The forum featured four speakers whose presentations discussed a number of demonstrations of federal, state and local surveillance and their disruption of peaceful activism.  The forum was opened by Kit Bonson, who explained the MCCRC’s desperate formation, saying:

The Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition (MCCRC) started because in the fall of 2010, 7 activists in Minneapolis and Chicago awoke one morning to find that their houses were being raided by the FBI. Boxes and boxes of their possessions were confiscated, including computers, papers, and family photos. Although they were never charged with any crime, they were called to testify in front of a Grand Jury.

In response, activists here in our area, as well as in cities around the country, came together to protest the use of the FBI and the Grand Jury process to harass and intimidate movement organizers. Basically, we wanted to stand in solidarity with activists who had not committed crimes or advocated anything other than nonviolence action. It was from these events that MCCRC was founded.

Forum Speakers

Saqib Ali, formerly a Maryland state legislator,  is now the Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Maryland chapter (CAIR-MD).  Ali spoke about the overwhelming surveillance of Muslim-American communities throughout the United States, describing the three major issues facing these communities as the “No Fly” list; the FBI’s infiltration of mosques and the growing presence of FBI informants in mosques; and the near-constant surveillance of Muslim communities.  Ali explained that the “No Fly” list prohibits many Muslim-Americans from travel back and forth between the United States and countries abroad where family members may still be located.  Ali specifically noted that the Transport Security Administration (TSA) compiles their “No Fly” list fairly arbitrarily, and lacks any legal recourse; not only  is the reason for being on a “No Fly” list murky at best, but it becomes nearly impossible to remove oneself from that list.


Ali also discussed the FBI infiltration of mosques, both as a means to surveil Muslim community worshiping therein, as well as to persuade mosque members towards terrorist action and subsequently stage their arrests.  He also discussed the more local development of an NYPD “Demographics” Unit, which singled out Muslim community centers of all kinds throughout New York and New Jersey for surveillance.  He described the “Demographics” Unit as a “wide, indiscriminate dragnet of Muslim everyday things: barber shops, bookstores…”

Sue Udry, the Executive Director of the Defending Dissent Foundation (DDF), broadened the discussion beyond the Muslim-American community to discuss the many different examples of legitimate activism being disproportionately targeted by local, state and federal law enforcement agencies.  She specifically mentioned the “Ag Gag laws,” which aim at preventing whistleblowers from exposing any wrongdoing within agricultural operations.  Within these Ag Gag laws is the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) which Udry and DDF describe as:


Letters to the president: Closing Guantanamo

Thursday, April 4, 2013 at 10:09 am by

EvidencePresident Obama’s 2009 promise to close down the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, infamous for its flagrant denial of human rights, was met with much support throughout the United States and the world.  Human rights advocates throughout the world felt justice would finally be served by transferring and releasing detainees from the Guantanamo detention facility.  Individuals within the U.S. hoped that Obama’s promise to close the facility would re-solidify the country’s position as the self-proclaimed exemplar of moral and ethical leadership.

Unfortunately, four years later, Guantanamo remains open, still imprisoning detainees who are held without charge, and without access to judge or lawyer.  In January of 2012, several retired generals and admirals drafted a letter to President Obama urging the transfer of Guantanamo detainees cleared by the Task Force, under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Security Waver.  They write:

We recognize the political opposition you have faced in attempting to honor your commitment. Congress has repeatedly restricted your ability to transfer detainees held there who have been cleared for release. Congress has also restricted your authority to bring criminal suspects held at Guantanamo to justice in our time-honored federal criminal courts. However, despite these restrictions, we are asking you to act within the discretion available to you to move our nation forward in closing Guantanamo once and for all.

Political opposition (particularly in the House of Representatives) has been one of the defining challenges of Obama’s presidency, and while it is a legitimate hurdle, it does not excuse Obama’s unfulfilled promise to close Guantanamo.  The President must be held accountable as well.


Muslim Communities in NYC Regroup, Protest Surveillance

Friday, March 29, 2013 at 8:08 am by

Last year, the Associated Press won a Pulitzer Prize for revealing that New York City Police Department (NYPD) has spied on Muslim Americans, as well as their non-Muslim clients, customers and classmates over a decade both across the greater New York area and even well beyond its jurisdiction.

Today, impacted communities are continuing to respond. A lawsuit has been brought against the NYPD on behalf of Muslims in New Jersey, but has been delayed in court as lawyers for the city have asked the court to dismiss the case before examining evidence.

Further, on March 11, a coalition of Muslim groups, including the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC) and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR), delivered a report of the devastating consequences that spying has had on the people it targets.

The report is based on interviews with 57 American Muslims in the city and reveals that the spying, far from being secret, was fairly well known and has created a “pervasive climate of fear and suspicion.” The report details the impact on nearly every aspect of everyday life, from religious life to freedom of speech to relationships with law enforcement to forming friendships. The report concludes with a request to the NYPD to end its surveillance program and for the City Council to establish more oversight of the police.

One young woman said, “Even if we know we have rights, we know they don’t apply equally to everyone.”

The police have defended themselves by claiming that they were acting within constitutional limits. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly outlined the principle of the surveillance program, which is, “In its effort to anticipate or prevent unlawful activity, including terrorist acts, the NYPD must, at times, initiate investigations in advance of unlawful conduct.”

Yet the head of the NYPD Intelligence unit admitted under testimony that the surveillance program had not produced any terrorism or criminal leads during his six year tenure. The intelligence department has reportedly cost the city $1 billion since 2001.

Despite these assaults on their rights, community members remain resilient. The recently-formed New York City Muslim Club is eschewing other organizations’ ban on talking politics. The club is out to participate in the next mayoral race, and is also campaigning for recognition of Muslim holidays in public school calendars. The club, as well as a separate AL Jazeera estimate, claims that as many as 10 percent of the city’s population is Muslim.

Community gathers in Albany to combat mass incarceration

Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 1:08 pm by

On October 25, members of the the Albany community gathered to learn more about the targeting of African-American males in federal and state drug sweeps in Albany, NY and discuss and strategize about how to end mass incarceration. Alice Green, director of The Center For Law and Justice, presented the findings of her organization’s report, What Have We Done?: Mass Incarceration and the Targeting of Albany’s Black Males by Federal, State, and Local Authorities.  Michael Figura, a legal fellow at the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, drew connections between law enforcement tactics targeting of African-American and Latino communities in the drug war and the targeting of Muslims and political activists. Lynne Jackson, of Project Salam, highlighted some of the many uses of entrapment and preemptive prosecution against Muslims in the “war on terror.”

The remainder, and majority, of the event focused on a discussion among the attendees, moderated by Mark Bobb-Semple, about how to build a movement to stop the New Jim Crow and law enforcement targeting of other communities. Family members of those convicted in the Albany sweeps reflected on the damage done by mass incarceration and proposed a return to 60′s style protests. Other attendees noted that the success of the civil rights movement was due in large part to the diversity of tactics and philosophies exemplified by Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. One audience member noted that the discussion helped him to understand how the government unjustly prosecuted Muslims, and that he was able to see parallels with the incarceration of African-Americans. A number of those present pointed out that policing practices had a large impact on who ultimately becomes incarcerated. The discussion provided the building blocks of a movement that fights for the end of mass incarceration and biased policing and law enforcement.

Residents of Albany, and cities and towns across the country have influence and control over local law enforcement practices through their local and state legislatures.  By building a strong coalition, an engaged people can pass restrictions to ensure that their communities are treated fairly, constitutionally and justly.  As local efforts in Berkeley, California and New York City have shown, a strong coalition can assert control over law enforcement practices and assure fair and equal treatment.

News Digest 10/26/12

Friday, October 26, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

News Digest 10/11/12

Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 5:00 pm by

New Yorkers rally to end biased policing

Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 9:55 am by


On September 27, over 800 New Yorkers rallied outside City Hall to protest the NYPD’s discriminatory policing practices and call for the passage of the Community Safety Act. The problem of biased policing in New York City is undeniable.  Last year the NYPD stopped and frisked close to 700,000 people in New York, 90% of whom were people of color and 88% of whom the police did not even accuse of any wrongdoing. The actual number of stop and frisks conducted is surely higher, because officers self-report when stops take place.  Biased policing practiced in such staggering numbers not only results in individual harassment and humiliation, but also tears at the fabric of communities, making them less safe and less prosperous.

The Community Safety Act is a package of bills that seeks to reform the NYPD to stop biased policing. It would require the NYPD to stop profiling people based on race, sexuality, religion, immigration status and and other categories, mandate that officers get written or recorded consent before searching someone without legal cause, require officers to identify and explain themselves and appoint an Inspector General to oversee the department. The consent provision assures that people in New York are aware of their right to refuse warrantless searches not based on reasonable suspicion and that they are not tricked or coerced into giving up that right. The Community Safety Act not only addresses the problem of biased based stops and frisks taking place on the street, but also the NYPD’s program of spying on Muslim communities. By calling for an Inspector General, the public would have a point person for holding the NYPD accountable for ineffective and discriminatory practices.

The group supporting the Act, Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), is made up of diverse member organizations representing youth, people of color, the LGTBQ community, Muslims, the homeless and supporters of cvil rights and liberties, including the Bill of Rights Defense Committee. The Community Safety Act has drawn the support of a majority of the members of the New York City Council, and has the opportunity to garner even more support when the Act has a committee hearing on October 10 at City Hall.  The hearing is open to the public, and a strong turn out could help gain more sponsors so the Act is veto-proof. The council will also hold additional hearings on October 23 in Brooklyn and October 24 in Queens, where members of the public can testify about their experiences with stop and frisk.

News Digest 10/02/12

Tuesday, October 2, 2012 at 5:00 pm by