Yesterday evening, the plaintiffs in Hassan, et al. v. City of New York, the federal lawsuit challenging the New York City Police Department’s discriminatory spying program targeting American Muslims, responded to the City’s motion to dismiss the case. Hassan is the first direct legal challenge brought by a broad group of American Muslims from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds who have been victims of discriminatory police surveillance by the NYPD. Their claims are primarily based on their right to equal protection under the law and the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom to worship. The plaintiffs’ response argues that the court should reject the City’s assertion that the events of 9/11 justify broad surveillance of any and all New Jersey Muslims, without any indication of wrongdoing. The court’s ruling on the motion will decide whether the case can go forward.
“The NYPD has targeted innocent Americans because of their faith, including American Muslims living, working and studying in New Jersey,” said Glenn Katon, co-counsel for plaintiffs and legal director of Muslim Advocates. “This lawsuit is critical to stopping the discriminatory policies employed by the NYPD, and we are confident that our claims are more than strong enough to proceed past the City’s preliminary motion.”
The NYPD has conducted surveillance in New Jersey of at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools and two Muslim Student Associations, in addition to the individuals who own, operate, and visit those establishments.
Said Center for Constitutional Rights Legal Director Baher Azmy, co-counsel in the case, “This NYPD surveillance program singles out Muslims for surveillance without any evidence of wrongdoing. The only thing our clients have in common is their religion, and one of this country’s founding principles is to protect people from being targeted for their religion.”
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) recently joined the lawsuit as co-counsel with Muslim Advocates. CCR is also currently challenging the NYPD's controversial stop and frisk program in the class action lawsuit, Floyd v. City of New York, which goes to trial in March. Ravinder S. Bhalla of the Bhalla Law Firm serves as local counsel.
For more information on the case, visit www.muslimadvocates.org/endspying and http://www.ccrjustice.org/hassan.
About Muslim Advocates:
Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization working on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths. Through high impact lawsuits, policy advocacy, and community education, Muslim Advocates serves as a resource to empower communities and ensures that the courts and leaders at the highest level of government address the concerns of American Muslims. Visit Muslim Advocates at www.muslimadvocates.org and follow @muslimadvocates.
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org and follow @theCCR.