The New York City Police Department had been spying on American Muslims without any suspicion of wrongdoing for almost ten years when the program was exposed by a group of investigative journalists. Unwarranted attention by law enforcement is not new to Muslim communities throughout the country, but the details revealed of the NYPD’s massive surveillance program were truly unprecedented. Civil rights, interfaith, and Muslim community groups, as well as members of Congress, immediately began criticizing the NYPD’s practices and called for them to end. As soon as the program became public, Muslim Advocates launched a legal and public advocacy campaign that has included two public records requests, which turned into litigation, letters calling for an investigation to three State Attorneys General and the U.S. Attorney General, and the first lawsuit challenging the program as unconstitutional.
As NYPD Commissioner William Bratton announced the dismantling of the unit that carried out the spying program, Muslim Advocates will be holding him accountable to that promise by continuing its legal and public advocacy campaign and seeking verification that the Department discontinues its practice of monitoring law-abiding Muslims.
- Aug. 23, 2011 – First Associated Press story in Pulitzer Prize-winning series of articles exposing NYPD Muslim spying program: “With CIA help, NYPD moves covertly in Muslim areas”
- Aug. 31, 2011 – In the first of the NYPD’s misrepresentations to the public about Muslim spying, the police department denies spying unit exists: “Inside the spy unit that NYPD says doesn’t exist”
- Sept. 20, 2011 – Muslim Advocates, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Brennan Center for Justice submit New York Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) Request to NYPD to obtain further details of police department’s Muslim spying program
- Feb. 3, 2012 – Muslim Advocates organizes complaint to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requesting immediate investigation of Muslim spying program and bigoted training materials
- Mar. 1, 2012 – Muslim Advocates and the ACLU of Pennsylvania file complaint with the Pennsylvania Attorney general requesting an investigation of the NYPD Muslim spying program in Pennsylvania
- Mar. 6, 2012 – Muslim Advocates works with local activists to file complaint with the New Jersey Attorney General requesting an investigation of the NYPD Muslim spying program in New Jersey
- Mar. 19, 2012 – Muslim Advocates organizes letter signed by more than 110 organizations to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Department of Justice to investigate the NYPD’s Muslim spying program
- Jun. 6, 2012 – Muslim Advocates files first lawsuit challenging NYPD Muslim spying program as unconstitutional, Hassan v. City of New York
- Jul. 6, 2012 – Muslim Advocates submits New Jersey Open Public Records Act request to obtain records of State’s cooperation with NYPD Muslim spying and records upon which New Jersey Attorney General determined that no state laws were violated
- Oct. 3, 2012 – Muslim Advocates amends Hassan complaint against NYPD to include additional plaintiffs
- Dec. 31, 2012 – The Center for Constitutional Rights, a nationally renowned civil rights group, joins as co-counsel in Hassan case
- Feb. 20, 2014 – Federal trial court dismisses Hassan plaintiffs’ challenge to the NYPD spying program
- Mar. 21, 2014 – Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights file notice of appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit