We, the NLG-NYC Muslim Defense Project, condemn the racist law enforcement practices at the core of the NYPD’s stop and frisk program, currently being challenged by our colleagues at the Center for Constitutional Rights in Floyd v. City of New York. We join the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC) and the Islamic Leadership Council (Majlis ash-Shura) in their call for community-led change of the NYPD. The NYPD’s stop and frisk program, like its well-documented mapping and surveillance program of Muslim New Yorkers, criminalizes entire communities based only on racial or religious identity.
The trial has begun to expose in federal court what many New York City residents have long known—that the police department, from the top down, seeks to intentionally create a climate of fear designed to chill freedom of movement, speech and expression. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has privately stated that he wants young men of color to fear being stopped when they leave their homes.
The Muslim Defense Project stands in solidarity with all New Yorkers affected by these law enforcement tactics and pledges to continue sharing and building strategies of resistance to these policies. The passage of the Community Safety Act is key as it would ban profiling based on race, religion, immigration status, gender identity and other categories, and require officers to identify themselves and explain why they are stopping someone. This bill also creates an Inspector General post, which is a step towards creating oversight over the NYPD. Through the litigation in Floyd, we hope for court-sanctioned reforms that also rein in the NYPD. We also need a mayor who will take the police department in a different direction under different leadership. We will not rest until our streets and communities are safe places for all.
The Muslim Defense Project (MDP) of the New York City Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG-NYC) was formed to combat the anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies that have created a comprehensive system of illegal surveillance, predatory prosecutions, and the targeting of entire Muslim communities — in New York City and beyond. We stand in solidarity, as members of these communities and their allies, to seek the elimination of laws that enable the discrimination of Muslims. We will arm our communities with the knowledge and information they need to protect themselves. We will put our legal skills to use defending those who have fallen prey to predatory prosecutions. We recognize that community ties through trust and activism have been under attack over the past several years, and we endeavor to safeguard and build those precious relationships. Through organizing and activism, we seek to build a strong front by developing alliances with other communities who have also been the subject of the government’s repression. Together, we will fight this government onslaught on our fundamental rights — as history has taught us that the rights of one community or individual belong to us all.
To learn more about the Muslim Defense Project, please visit www.nlgnyc.org/mdp.
Floyd v City of New York is the first class-action lawsuit in a federal court to challenge the New York Police Department stop & frisk program. 500 Pearl Street, Courtroom 15C (in front of Judge Shira Scheindlin). PACK THE COURT HOUSE!
The call to action is part of a civil rights and community based coalition effort to hold the NYPD accountable for discriminatory policing practices including the stop and frisk program, and the mass surveillance & entrapment of Muslims.
MACLC — a coalition of New York-based citizens, community & faith leaders, organizers, advocates, and attorneys — recently issued a study in partnership with the CLEAR Project at CUNY School of Law and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund that recommended in part meaningful oversight and transparency of the NYPD through the passage of the Community Safety Act.
The first-of-its-kind study, “Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and Its Impact on American Muslims” can be viewed in its entirety here.
If you’re nervous about showing up at court or don’t know what to expect here are some basics:
- Arrive early. It may take about half an hour to go through the metal detectors: phones and other electronics will be held in a cubby in the lobby.
- IDs will NOT be checked.
- It is ok to walk in and out of the courtroom as you need to.
- There will be a lunch break, but we don’t know when exactly (same for an exact starting and ending time).