The New York Police Department (NYPD) has been scrutinized following the revelation one month ago that it designated entire mosques as “terrorism enterprises.” This allowed them to conduct surveillance on anyone praying at these mosques, including sending undercover informants into them. NYPD confidential documents even peddled the idea of placing agents in leadership positions at mosques and Arab cultural organizations. Such actions are part of a national context in which police departments violate the first amendment rights of citizens in the name of fighting terrorism. A prime example is the lack of accountability or explanation from the Boston Police Department (BPD) one year after its surveillance of local anti-war organizations became public.
In October 2012 it was revealed that the BPD placed local anti-war groups under surveillance with no plausible connections to criminal activity. One year later many questions remain about the scope of the BPD’s breach of privacy. What was the purpose of such surveillance and how was it done? Are antiwar activists continuing to have their protected free speech rights violated? Has information on antiwar groups been passed on to national databases, perhaps stored permanently?