The New York Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit on Tuesday on behalf of Muslim New Yorkers accusing the NYPD of operating an unconstitutional surveillance program based on religious profiling without proof of criminal suspicion.
The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York, accuses the NYPD of "mapping" both individuals and institutions in Muslim communities, "deploying NYPD officers and informants to infiltrate mosques and monitor the conversations of congregants and religious leaders without any suspicion of wrongdoing," and carrying out "other forms of suspicionless surveillance."
“When a police department turns law-abiding people into suspects because they go to a mosque and not a church or a synagogue, it violates our Constitution’s guarantees of equality and religious freedom,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project, in a statement. “No one questions that the NYPD has a job to do, but spying on innocent New Yorkers because of their religion is a wrong and ineffective way to do it. We are asking the court to end the NYPD’s unconstitutional religious discrimination.”
The lawsuit seeks no damages but asks the court to terminate all future surveillance based on religious profiling without prior suspicion of criminal activity, as well as to compel the NYPD to destroy all information it collected on Muslims in violation of their Fourteenth Amendment rights.