Plaintiffs & NJ Muslims Targeted by Discriminatory Police Surveillance Have First Face-to-Face Meeting with City and NYPD Officials
Newark, NJ — Following a historic lawsuit over the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) blanket, discriminatory surveillance of New Jersey Muslims, Hassan v. City of New York, plaintiffs and members of the New Jersey Muslim community met face-to-face with senior City and NYPD officials on Monday to detail the harm caused to Muslim communities in New Jersey by the NYPD’s surveillance program and to demand accountability.
In 2011, Pulitzer Prize-winning AP reporting revealed that the NYPD was spying on Muslims at New York and New Jersey mosques, restaurants, schools and university student associations simply because of their faith. The NYPD’s monitoring activities included video surveillance, photographing license plates, “community mapping,” and infiltration by undercover officers. In October 2012, Muslim Advocates filed the Hassan lawsuit on behalf of Muslim individuals, businesses, and organizations affected by these practices. 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 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 settlement also required the NYPD and city officials to meet with those affected by the discriminatory surveillance to share their experiences and the harms they endured. This meeting took place today in downtown Newark. Several plaintiffs attended, including Farhaj Hassan, Imam W. Deen Shareef of the Council of Imams New Jersey, and Imam Abdul Kareem Muhammad of Masjid Al Haqq. Attorneys from Muslim Advocates, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Gibbons, P.C. also attended. The NYPD was represented by Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller, Counsel to the Police Commissioner Ashley Waters, Assistant Commissioner for Intelligence Analysis Rebecca Weiner, Peter Farrel of the City Law Department, and Director for Intelligence Matters Alexis Leist. The Handschu Committee Civilian Representative Stephen Robinson also attended.
Below are quotes and video reactions to the meeting from plaintiffs in Hassan v. City of New York who attended Monday’s meeting:
“Our message from the beginning of this case has been that Muslim Americans have the right to religious freedom and equal protection of the law,” said Imam W. Deen Shareef. “We intend through our engagement and demand for accountability to see that the NYPD upholds these sacred rights, and it’s duty to preserve the constitutional integrity of our shared American society.”
“Hassan v. NYPD proved once and for all that active participation by the citizenry is necessary to hold those in power accountable,” said Farhaj Hassan. “The value of 'equal justice for all' holds America together. That is a value American Muslims will always defend.”
For more information, visit the Center for Constitutional Rights case page.
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.
The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.