Civil Rights Lawyers Condemn New NYPD Muslim Spying Revelations

May 12, 2014, New York – In response to revelations in a Sunday New York Times article, “New York Police Recruit Muslims to Be Informers,” Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights released the following statement: 

Yesterday, our worst fears were confirmed that the New York City Police Department is continuing to recruit informants and target innocent American Muslims for surveillance based solely on their faith. Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights condemn the NYPD's activities reported in Sunday’s New York Times article “New York Police Recruit Muslims to Be Informers.” The article makes clear that the NYPD's announcement last month that it is disbanding the Zone Assessment Unit (formerly known as the Demographics Unit) does not reflect a change in the NYPD's practice of targeting Muslims and planting informants in New York's Muslim communities without any reason to believe that members of those communities are engaged in criminal activity.
According to the Times article, NYPD reports this year “showed that religion had become a normal topic of police inquiry in the city’s holding cells and lockup facilities. Some reports written by detectives after debriefing sessions noted whether a prisoner attended mosque, celebrated Muslim holidays or had made a pilgrimage to Mecca.” Thus, the victims of this practice were not asked to be informants relating to any of the petty crimes for which they were arrested, such as disputing a ticket or allegedly attempting to engage a prostitute; since those crimes obviously had nothing to do with their religious practices. The NYPD's unlawful assumption remains that members of entire Muslim communities are inherently suspect and can “provide visibility into the world of terrorism,” as the current head of the Intelligence Division is quoted in the article.
The revelation that the NYPD is continuing its discriminatory policing of Muslims eliminates any doubt that the three federal lawsuits challenging the Department’s practices should be pursued vigorously and that a federal court order is the only way to ensure that the NYPD will stop its unconstitutional practices.
In a case currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Muslim Advocates and the Center for Constitutional Rights are representing eleven Muslim individuals, mosques, businesses, and organizations that the NYPD spied on in New Jersey, and there are two other lawsuits on behalf of New York City victims.
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization working on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. Through high impact lawsuits, policy advocacy, and community education, Muslim Advocates serves as a resource to empower communities and ensures that the American Muslim community is heard by the courts and leaders at the highest level of government.  Visit Muslim Advocates at and follow @muslimadvocates.

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


Last modified 

May 12, 2014