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FACT CHECK: Bloomberg Grossly Misleads Americans About NYPD’s Anti-Muslim Spying Program

Bloomberg Falsely Tells PBS Sweeping, Discriminatory Spying Program was Limited to Mosques, Approved by Courts


Washington, DC — Tonight on the PBS NewsHour, Mike Bloomberg was finally asked about the NYPD’s sweeping, years-long, discriminatory surveillance program targeting Muslims in New York and New Jersey. Unfortunately, he repeatedly lied about the program, which he oversaw for years and has defended even after a federal appeals court decision unanimously and harshly rebuked it. When asked about the spying program on PBS, Bloomberg said: “We sent some officers into some mosques to listen to the sermon that the imam gave. The courts ruled it was exactly within the law and that’s the kind of thing we should be doing.” This is absolutely false. The following is a quote from Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera:

“The idea that the NYPD surveilled Muslims in just a few mosques with court approval is a fantasy. In reality, the NYPD filmed, tracked and monitored Muslims in mosques, restaurants, schools and more with cameras and undercover officers—all without their knowledge, in New York and New Jersey. Further, it is absolutely false that the courts sided with Bloomberg and the NYPD. A federal appeals court, in a unanimous decision, harshly rebuked this program in a landmark ruling, likening it to the treatment of ‘Jewish-Americans during the Red Scare, African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, and Japanese-Americans during World War II.’ What happened in New York City was a massive civil rights breach that caused lasting harm to countless innocent American Muslims. Mayor Bloomberg needs to correct the record immediately.”

Muslim Advocates has been calling on Bloomberg to apologize and disavow the program. Muslim Advocates filed a major civil rights lawsuit, Hassan v. City of New York, on behalf of Muslims in New Jersey, which resulted in a landmark settlement requiring the NYPD to halt suspicionless surveillance activities on the basis of religion or ethnicity. The Center for Constitutional Rights later joined as co-counsel in that lawsuit. Muslim Advocates is a 501(c)(3) charity and we do not endorse or oppose candidates for office.

Muslim Advocates is a national civil rights organization working in the courts, in the halls of power and in communities to halt bigotry in its tracks. We ensure that American Muslims have a seat at the table with expert representation so that all Americans may live free from hate and discrimination.