UPDATE: Newark Mayor Cory Booker condemns NYPD surveillance in Jersey

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MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES

Newark Mayor Cory Booker blasted reports of NYPD surveillance on Muslim communities, saying an Associated Press report detailing NYPD officers working in his city was news to him.

“It is deeply offensive for me to do blanket surveillance for no reason other than religious affiliation,” Booker told the AP.

He was never told about the surveillance, he said.

An Associated Press report Saturday revealed
that NYPD officers tracked students upstate and at colleges out of
state, including sending an officer on a white-water rafting trip.

The report alleged that officers followed people through student
websites at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers and 13
others. 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday he does not understand why Yale University officials would have a problem with NYPD officers following their students.

Yale President Richard Levin called the surveillance “antithetical to the values of Yale.”

But Bloomberg disagreed, saying in response to Levin’s statement, “I don’t know why keeping the country safe is antithetical to the values of Yale.”

“Of course we’re going to look at anything that’s publicly available,” he added.

NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has defended the police department’s actions, saying officers only follow leads.

Rutgers University requested an investigation into the monitoring, according to the AP, and Columbia University’s spokesman told the wire service that the school “would obviously be concerned about anything that could chill our essential values of academic freedom or intrude on student privacy.” 

Schools like the University of Buffalo and Syracuse University told the AP they disapproved of surveillance based on religion.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union called on Bloomberg today to investigate the NYPD’s actions, saying the surveillance was religious and racial profiling.

“Mayor Bloomberg, who has demonstrated sensitivity to religious discrimination issues in the past, should take a fresh and hard look at the NYPD’s surveillance practices,” said Arthur Eisenberg, legal director of the NYCLU.

“The NYPD has run amok, engaging in secret multi-state domestic surveillance of innocent people based on crude religious and racial profiling,” added Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project, which monitors national security policies. “Monitoring Muslim students is not just wrong, it is a waste of law enforcement resources.”

The Brennan Center for Justice reiterated a demand they made last month, calling for the NYPD to institute an independent inspector general to ensure police did not operate outside their jurisdiction.


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