Written by Don Byrd
Associated Press continues to make news in its investigation of the New York Police Department’s religious profiling practices. AP previously revealed the NYPD was conducting surveillance activities of and keeping files on mosques in New Jersey. Lawsuits have been filed and the Department subsequently announced the end of that program.
Yesterday, AP reported the NYPD has “secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations” to allow the use of informants and surreptitious recordings.
Here’s the key:
Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance.
In the first eight months under the new rules, the NYPD’s Intelligence Division opened at least 15 secret terrorism enterprise investigations, documents show. At least 10 targeted mosques.
Doing so allowed police, in effect, to treat anyone who attends prayer services as a potential suspect. Sermons, ordinarily protected by the First Amendment, could be monitored and recorded.
Choosing a house of worship isn’t an act of terror. It doesn’t raise reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. It is the enactment of a fundamental freedom, protected by the First Amendment.
It remains to be seen whether this program is ongoing or has been discontinued. Stay tuned.