Several high-profile civil rights lawyers in New York City are urging the court to halt the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims, Desi Talk reports.
According to the article by Ela Dutt, the five attorneys who signed on to the case have called for appointing an auditor to oversee the department’s activities in this area.
The brief, signed by attorney Paul Chevigny, a law professor at New York University, was filed Feb. 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. It argues that the NYPD surveillance is illegal as it violates a 1985 court decree limiting police intelligence gathering.
The Handschu guidelines issued in 1985 prescribe that the police cannot monitor political activities unless there is a crime involved. “But they have infiltrated every organization or institution which has any connection to Muslims,” Chevigny said.
“It is basically not a Muslim issue. It is a civil rights issue,” he told Desi Talk. “It started 40 years ago when the world was different and political activities were different.”
According to the article, the brief relies primarily on NYPD documents. No Muslim lawyers are involved in the filing though there is some input from Muslims who have given statements about the surveillance. The brief argues that the NYPD has been violating the guidelines systematically at least since 2006.
The article goes on to say that the Associated Press has recently reported on the NYPD’s program, detailing the movements and communications among Muslim students and of people attending mosques and visiting stores, as well as activities of Muslim organizations, despite no suspicion of political or criminal activity.