Mayor Bloomberg’s Untenable Defense of NYPD Spying
New York mayor Michael Bloomberg continues to defend the New York Police Department’s practice of broadly surveilling Muslim communities and individuals against whom no allegations or threats have been raised, despite the fact that the practice violates NYPD’s own guidelines and New York City law. Bloomberg recently said:
“What we’ve been doing in New Jersey is what anybody in this country or in the world can do… You can go to open meetings, and you can go on open websites and look and see what’s there, and that’s really all we’ve been doing.”
Moreover, despite NYPD’s acknowledgement that it is spying on Muslim organizations without evidence, Bloomberg continues to deny that religious profiling is occurring. These mixed messages put Bloomberg in something of political no-man’s land; neither on the side of robust civil liberties but also appearing to shy away from Islamophobic activists who celebrate efforts to target Muslims based solely on their religious views.
Some of those activists, including Zudhi Jasser (the narrator of the Islamophobic film NYPD was forced to admit it had inappropriately used in the training of thousands of officers), gathered in a rally outside NYPD headquarters today. Congressman Peter King also attended and made his perspective clear in justifying the NYPD tactics:
“The threat right now is Islamist terrorism - and that’s going to be coming from the Muslim community, it’s just a fact,”
This statement is, of course, the opposite of a fact, but Rep. King has never really shown a strong interest in the truth on these issues. Mayor Bloomberg, however, has stood up for the rights of American Muslims before, and should drop his evasive rhetoric and do so again.
Bloomberg should denounce the efforts of King and Jasser to provide cover for the NYPD’s profiling program, fire Police Commissioner Kelly and put in place evidence-based ways of anticipating and preventing terrorist attacks instead of unfairly targeting a whole group of people.