MEDIA ROOTS — NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg stood up for the police state in a recent radio interview, where he defended the NYPD’s targeted discriminatory surveillance of Muslim communities in New York and New Jersey.
He cites rhetoric from the 9/11 Commission Report as justification to ignore constitutional protections of free speech as outlined in the Handschu agreement of 1985. In the 1985 federal court decision, police were allowed to obtain a warrant to monitor political activity only if there was a previous suspicion of criminality. However, in 2002, under Bloomberg and NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, the post-9/11 NYPD requested that this decision be suspended, claiming it hindered them from preventing future terrorist attacks.
“We’re not going to make the mistakes we made after the 1993 bombing,” Bloomberg preached yesterday. “We cannot let our guard down again. We cannot slack in our vigilance. The threat was real. The threat is real. The threat is not going away.’’
Newark Mayor Corey Booker adamantly rejected the practice, stating that he was unaware of the NYPD’s widespread spying operation. “If anyone in my police department had known this was a blanket investigation of individuals based on nothing but their religion, that strikes at the core of our beliefs and my beliefs very personally, and it would have merited a far sterner response,” Booker exclaimed.
Police Director Samuel DeMaio underscored this sentiment. “We want to be clear: This type of activity is not what the Newark PD would ever do.”
Rutgers-Newark hosted a rally yesterday to address the increased Muslim surveillance in the community. “We’re here to put a human face on it,” explained Nadia Kahf, chairwoman of New Jersey’s Council on American-Islamic Relations. Muslim student associations, referred to as MSAs by the NYPD, are of particular suspicion by the agency whose secret surveillance was created with the help from the CIA.
The practice even goes beyond the scope of the FBI, according to special agent Bryan Travers, a public affairs officer of the Newark Division. “The FBI follows strict guidelines and cannot open any investigation based simply on First Amendment activity.”
The issue gained momentum last week after the Associated Press published an article on Monday exposing the extent of the NYPD’s secret Muslim surveillance. The AP also posted a copy of a leaked NYPD report.
Oskar Mosco is a writer for Media Roots and producer at truth-march.
Photo provided by Flickr user Boss Tweed.