When members of SWAT teams and police agencies from across the country gather in Verona, New York at the end of this month for a massive training and weapons expo, the general public and journalists will be barred from entry.
One man, however, will be honored as a key presenter at the annual New York Tactical Officers Association (NYTOA) conference: Ryan Mauro, an anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist who is designated an extremist by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
A national security analyst for the anti-Muslim think tank Clarion Project, Mauro has argued that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the highest echelons of the Republican Party, as well as the Department of Homeland Security. He also recently called for expanded spying on Muslim communities, stating that “civilians really need to step up” and start reporting allegedly suspicious activity they see on Facebook.
Mauro has promoted the discredited myth of Muslim no-go zones across the West and fear-mongered over Somali refugees living in the United States. The watchdog organization Media Matters warned in 2014 that “Mauro and other Clarion Project members are not credible sources to discuss issues such as these given their virulent history of Islamophobia.”
Yet Mauro was invited by NYTOA, which describes itself as a “not for profit corporation established to promote training, professionalism and the exchange of information between members of law enforcement, tactical units and crisis negotiation teams within, and surrounding, New York State.”
The fact that a person with Mauro’s background will be training law enforcement officers is deeply troubling and has nationwide implications. The NYTOA conference is just one of numerous police and arms expos that take place regularly across the country, including Urban Shield in Oakland, Calif., which has been met with forceful grassroots resistance.
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