Cory Booker Responds to NYPD Profiling

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The mayor of Newark says neither he--nor his officers--knew anything about the NYPD's efforts to nationalize their spy network:


"The Newark Police Department was not involved in joint operations with the New York Police Department as was described in the disclosed NYPD report," Mayor Cory Booker said Wednesday, referring to a leaked internal New York police document that allegedly detailed police surveillance of Muslim-owned business and mosques across the city. 

"I strongly believe that we must be vigilant in protecting our citizens from crime and terrorism but to put large segments of a religious community under surveillance with no legitimate cause or provocation clearly crosses a line," he said.

Governor Chris Christie says he has no recollection on being briefed (he was the state's attorney at the time) and has asked the state's attorney general to investigate. I expect very little to come out of that. The disturbing truth is that the NYPD's efforts are in line with the national climate. Moreover, while it has proved very easy to build bureaucracies who exhibit minimal concern for individual liberties, I suspect it will be significant harder to dismantle them.

The NYPD's religious profiling should be considered in the context of the killings of Shem Walker, of Ramarley Graham, of Sean Bell, the beating of Jatiek Reed (see above,) the federal charges of gun running, the federal charges for civil rights violations. There has been minimal outcry about these incidents beyond the communities where these people live. The line that unites these incidents with the NYPD religious profiling efforts is power--or lack thereof. The NYPD's victims hail from communities--the black, the poor, the Muslim-- which enjoy little of society's faith, but a great deal of skepticism. 

I see little demonstrable evidence that any of this will change.
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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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