Settlement reached in lawsuits against NYPD’s illegal surveillance of Muslims


Settlement reached in lawsuits against NYPD’s illegal surveillance of Muslims

Philip Guelpa

6 April 2017

Late last month, the second of two federal judges approved a revised settlement of two long-standing lawsuits, Handschu v. Special Services Division and Raza v. City of New York, both filed in 2013, which were brought against the New York Police Department (NYPD) for illegal surveillance of Muslims following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The agreement establishes mechanisms which are supposed to permit oversight of police investigations regarding religious and political activities. However, the settlement establishes, in effect, little more than a rubber stamp by a well-vetted member of the legal establishment to legitimize the continuation of wide-ranging spying by the police.

Among the provisions of the agreement are:

• Prohibiting investigations in which race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin is a substantial or motivating factor.

• Requiring articulable and factual information regarding possible unlawful activity before the NYPD can launch a preliminary investigation into political or religious activity.

• Requiring the NYPD to account for the potential effect of investigative techniques on constitutionally protected activities such as religious worship and political meetings.

• Payment to plaintiffs by the city of approximately $1.67 million to cover legal fees.

According to the settlement, a civilian is to be appointed with the responsibility to oversee adherence to the terms of the agreement, including review of the use of undercover officers and confidential informants and how ongoing investigations are conducted.

The new civilian monitor will sit on the monthly meetings of an NYPD committee that discusses surveillance…

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