NY Neighbors for American Values Calls on Mayor to Oversee NYPD Covert Surveillance Program

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Susan Lerner

August 31 2011


NY Neighbors for American Values Calls on Mayor to Oversee NYPD Covert Surveillance Program

NYPD Must Not Engage in Religious or Ethnic Profiling, Coalition Says

New York Neighbors for American Values, a diverse group of over 130 organizations, that works in New York City to promote and defend the constitutional and American values of religious freedom, diversity and equality issued the following statement:

We are deeply troubled by news reports that the NYPD has a long-standing program, the Demographic Unit, which maintains “ancestries of interest” and which dispatches undercover police officers, or “rakers” and “mosque crawlers”, to monitor residents’ daily lives and religious institutions even when no cause of suspicion is present. These activities raise serious issues of ethnic and religious profiling as well as potentially illegal domestic spying and surveillance of American citizens. The public is entitled to know what information the Mayor and the Police Chief had about this program, when they first learned of it and whether they authorized its continuation, either directly or indirectly, or whether this program existed without this Administration’s authorization. Whether authorized or not, it should be closed immediately.

We call on Mayor Bloomberg and the New York City Police Department to inform the public when this program was set up, how much it is budgeted for, what standards are used in targeting neighborhoods and locations for this covert surveillance, and what steps are being taken to disband this unit and insure that racial and religious targeting and illegal domestic spying is not taking place. If the Administration does not provide this information, then the City Council should conduct public hearings.