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NYPD, Big Brother? New Document Shows Shocking Reach of the NYPD's Secret Surveillance of Muslims

 
 
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 The Associated Press has been reporting on the NYPD's extensive, and likely illegal, surveillance of Muslim communities for the past year. The reports show that the NYPD was  collaborating with the CIA and chronicling the activities and businesses of Muslims under no suspicion of criminal activity, creating one of the largest domestic intelligence agencies the country. The NYPD's intrusion went so deep it stretched from people and students to businesses and mosques to Yale University. Yesterday, four AP reporters who broke the story received the George Polk Award for Metropolitan Reporting

Today, the AP released an NYPD report from 2007 that provides shocking details of the NYPD's surveillance in Newark, New Jersey. Including maps of Muslim and West African businesses and neighborhoods, the documents chronicle the NYPD's surveillance of the entire city. They are so revealing that one of the AP reporters, Matt Apuzzo, asked on Twitter,  "If NYPD can write docs like this outside its jurisdiction, where cant they go? Post-9/11, is NYPD a nat’l police force?”

According to the AP report, the Newark surveillance program was so secretive even the city's mayor was in the dark, as "Americans living and working in New Jersey's largest city were subjected to surveillance as part of the New York Police Department's effort to build databases of where Muslims work, shop and pray." 

It continues:

For months in mid-2007, plainclothes officers from the NYPD's Demographics Units fanned out across Newark, taking pictures and eavesdropping on conversations inside businesses owned or frequented by Muslims.

The result was a 60-page report, obtained by The Associated Press, containing brief summaries of businesses and their clientele. Police also photographed and mapped 16 mosques, listing them as "Islamic Religious Institutions."

The report cited no evidence of terrorism or criminal behavior. It was a guide to Newark's Muslims.

According to the report, the operation was carried out in collaboration with the Newark Police Department. But the Newark police director at the time said no local officers participated. And Newark's mayor, Cory Booker, said he never authorized the spying and was never told about it.

"Wow," he said as the AP laid out the details of the report. "This raises a number of concerns. It's just very, very sobering."

The NYPD's surveillance report is a must-read, but it offers only a glimpse into the NYPD's disturbing abuse of authority. As I recently reported, a series of corruption and brutality within the NYPD raises serious questions about the department's control -- and what other unreported atrocities have been committed and paid for with tax payer dollars.  

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at February 22, 2012, 9:28am