Who: Diverse Religious & Community Leaders
Where: Christ Chapel, Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive New York, 10027
When: 12 noon Tuesday March 13, 2012
Representing a cross section of diverse New York, a coalition of diverse faith leaders gathers today at Riverside Church to express very serious concerns about revelations about extensive NYPD monitoring of the local Muslim community. We coordinate this gathering with the release of the National Interfaith Letter to Mayor Bloomberg issued today by over 25 national religious groups and leaders.
Today Rabbis, Ministers, Priests and other religious leaders join an array of faith-based and civil liberty organizations, Muslim groups, legal advocates, and concerned citizens of all faiths deeply distressed and appalled that the NYPD has crossed the line from providing proactive safety measures to spying on its own citizens. Even law enforcement has weighed in against this controversial program from around the country. Warrantless spying is clearly not just a “Muslim issue.”
Today, March 13 marks the 10th anniversary of NYPD Order 11 explicitly forbidding racial profiling. Though we appreciate that NYPD Commissioner Kelly has stated his opposition to profiling (“profiling is nuts” http://ow.ly/9xnCT) his department’s current demographic data collection policies religiously profile the entire Muslim community regardless of lack of criminal intent.
To avoid a lasting crisis of trust resulting from Stop and Frisk, Muslim community surveillance and other controversial policies, we also urge the NYPD to accept an independent Inspector General or another form of accountability that will install checks and balances in a vast department along with greater transparency. This is simply a question of good government and common sense.
“When it comes to making sure that their own communities and houses of worship are free from violent extremism, it is safe to say no one is more interested than Muslim American communities themselves. Thus, it is difficult to understand why the NYPD would choose such an alienating approach to these communities rather than working more cooperatively with their members.” Rev. Bob Chase, Intersections
“As a Rabbi, I can attest only too well to the divisive and disheartening effect of policies that cast a very wide net of suspicion over a religious community. I urge the NYPD to pursue its goals of "Courtesy, professionalism, and respect" in partnership with local communities, including critics.” Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky, Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, JTS
“We must add our concern as well about the inflammatory video The Third Jihad seen by almost 1,500 police officers. For the last 13 years the Interfaith Center of NY has been working to make our shared city a better and safer place for all people; and in that spirit we call again on the NYPD to further develop its accountability, transparency and unbiased education about the diverse communities it serves.” Rev. Chloe Breyer, Executive Director, Interfaith Center of New York
As New York religious community leaders we warmly commend Mayor Bloomberg’s past support for religious freedom and protecting the rights of all New Yorkers; however, it is necessary to fully support the constitutionally-protected right to worship-- without scrutiny-- for every religious community.
To address the Islamophobia in training issues, we urge both an investigation which would result in the purging of harmful and offensive materials, such as The Third Jihad, and the correction of misinformation to officers who have been exposed to these materials. Recently, we have seen efforts by other agencies, like the Federal Bureau of Investigation, to purge its own trainings of such harmful materials. Let’s learn the lessons of the last 10 years and keep government and law enforcement accountable in their public service.
P. A. Carroll