March 21, 2022
Issue: Law Enforcement Bias
Muslim Advocates Condemns NYPD’s Denial of Muslim Spying Program
Washington, DC — On Friday, NYPD Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller told the New York City Council that “there is no evidence” that the department spied on Muslims or that what the department did “occurred outside the rules of legitimate investigations.” In October 2012, Muslim Advocates filed Hassan v. City of New York on behalf of Muslims who were spied on by the NYPD. The Center for Constitutional Rights and the law firm of Gibbons, P.C. joined as co-counsel that December. After a historic decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that allowed the plaintiffs’ lawsuit to move forward, the NYPD initiated settlement negotiations and the parties later reached a settlement in early 2018. This landmark settlement required the NYPD, among other things, to halt suspicionless surveillance on the basis of religion or ethnicity and to pay damages to the plaintiffs for lost revenue and dignitary harms.
The following is a statement from Muslim Advocates Interim Legal Director Naomi Tsu:
“The NYPD filmed, tracked and monitored Muslims in mosques, restaurants and schools with cameras and undercover officers in New York, New Jersey and beyond—all without their knowledge. Muslim Advocates along with the Center for Constitutional Rights and Gibbons, P.C. sued the NYPD because of this spying program and won a landmark settlement that required the department to pay more than a million dollars to the Muslims they deny spying on. The settlement also forced the NYPD to disband their demographics unit that carried out the spying and revise their training materials to prevent future spying. As part of the court proceedings, a federal appeals court explicitly said that our clients plausibly pled that the NYPD ran ‘a surveillance program with a facially discriminatory classification.’ The NYPD’s attempt to rewrite this proven history of spying on American Muslims is jaw-dropping and a worrying sign that they could do it again.”
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.