Alison Parker, the Human Rights Watch U.S. Program Director, composed a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, urging the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the NYPD’s surveillance and profiling of Muslims based solely on their religion. Citing specific examples, Parker argues that the NYPD has infringed on the civil liberties of American Muslims:
These matters have been brought to your attention before. In September 2011, US Representative Rush Holt of New Jersey wrote to you requesting an investigation, and in December 2011, 35 members of Congress similarly wrote to request an investigation. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has declined to pursue an investigation, and Mayor Bloomberg has frequently defended the NYPD’s actions, making it clear that no state or city investigation is forthcoming.
The alleged conduct by the NYPD has contributed to a climate of fear and distrust among American Muslims. Rather than protect Americans, the surveillance and intelligence-gathering by the NYPD have violated the rights of American citizens and residents. It is likely to have a negative impact on cooperation from members of affected communities who will have reason to view law enforcement officials with suspicion. The NYPD is charged with the highest duty – keeping people safe. Instead, it appears to have used its power to violate the rights of New Yorkers and others in the US in violation of domestic and international law. A full and transparent investigation into the NYPD’s past and present conduct will be an important first step towards rebuilding the trust necessary for effective law enforcement.
We urge you to conduct an investigation into these allegations immediately, and to make the findings public.
Read the complete letter here.