Newark Muslims hold protest rally over NYPD spy operation
Newark Muslims plan to rally Friday in protest of a 2007 NYPD spying operation targeting Muslim groups in Newark, N.J. Mayor Bloomberg says the operation was 'constitutional.'
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says a secret 2007 New York Police Department operation monitoring Muslims was "legal," ''appropriate" and "constitutional." Bloomberg addressed the issue at length Friday on his weekly radio show on WOR-AM.Skip to next paragraph
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Officials in three states have traded accusations over who knew what about the secret 2007 NYPD operation. The NYPD monitored and catalogued Muslim neighborhoods throughout Newark, New Jersey's largest city.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Newark mosque plan to rally in support of its congregants Friday. The Masjid Omar in Paterson was identified as a target for surveillance in a 2006 NYPD report uncovered by The Associated Press.
And a coalition of Muslim organizations and their supporters have sent letters to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and the state attorney general asking for an investigation into the extent of the NYPD's surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey.
The NYPD operation resulted in a 60-page report, released by The Associated Press this week. It contains photographs and notes about every mosque and Muslim business in Newark.
The NYPD targeted Muslim mosques with tactics normally reserved for criminal organizations, according to newly obtained police documents that showed police collecting the license plates of worshippers, monitoring them on surveillance cameras and cataloging sermons through a network of informants.
The documents, obtained by The Associated Press, have come to light as the NYPD fends off criticism of its monitoring of Muslim student groups and its cataloging of mosques and Muslim businesses in nearby Newark, N.J.
The NYPD's spokesman, Paul Browne, forcefully defended the legality of those efforts Thursday, telling reporters that its officers may go wherever the public goes and collect intelligence, even outside city limits.
The new documents, prepared for Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, show how the NYPD's roster of paid informants monitored conversations and sermons inside mosques. The records offer the first glimpse of what those informants, known informally as "mosque crawlers," gleaned from inside the houses of worship.
For instance, when a Danish newspaper published inflammatory cartoons of Prophet Muhammad in September 2005, Muslim communities around the world erupted in outrage. Violent mobs took to the streets in the Middle East. A Somali man even broke into the cartoonist's house in Denmark with an ax.