More Revelations of NYPD Spying on Muslims

From the Associated Press:

The New York Police Department kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims, according to newly obtained documents that spell out in the clearest terms yet that police were monitoring people based on religion.... 

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended his department's efforts, saying they have kept the city safe, were completely legal and were not based on religion. "We don't stop to think about the religion," Bloomberg said at a news conference in August after The Associated Press began revealing the spying. "We stop to think about the threats and focus our efforts there." 

In late 2007, however, plainclothes officers in the department's secretive Demographics Unit were assigned to investigate the region's Syrian population. Police photographed businesses and eavesdropped at lunch counters and inside grocery stores and pastry shops. The resulting document listed no threat. And though most people of Syrian heritage living in the area were Jewish, Jews were excluded from the monitoring. 

"This report will focus on the smaller Muslim community," the report said. Similarly, police excluded the city's sizable Coptic Christian population when photographing, monitoring and eavesdropping on Egyptian businesses in 2007, according to the police files. "This report does not represent the Coptic Egyptian community and is merely an insight into the Muslim Egyptian community of New York City," the NYPD wrote. 

Many of those under surveillance were American-born citizens whose families have been here for the better part of a century.
A year before this effort began, Ray Kelly was asked about profiling:
"You think that terrorists aren't aware of how easy it is to be characterized by ethnicity?" Kelly said. "Look at the 9/11 hijackers. They came here. They shaved. They went to topless bars. They wanted to blend in. They wanted to look like they were part of the American dream. These are not dumb people."

 Kelly went on to say, "Could a terrorist dress up as a Hasidic Jew and walk into the subway, and not be profiled? Yes. I think profiling is just nuts."
I'd love to know how this isn't profiling. 
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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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