Even for the NYPD, this was a strange development.
The NYPD conducted secret surveillance activities in Newark, New Jersey. Their targets were all people of Muslim faith.
These NYPD activities were not coordinated with Newark law enforcement, even though the NYPD has tried to argue that Newark's police chief was aware of the activities.
As stated by Newark Mayor Cory Booker after the NYPD issued statements claiming that the NYPD had informed Newark's leadership of the spying activities, "If anyone in my police department had known this was a blanket investigation of individuals based on nothing but their religion, that strikes at the core of our beliefs and my beliefs very personally, and it would have merited a far sterner response."
Shocking but Consistent
While this latest embarrassing revelation from the NYPD is shocking, it is not inconsistent with what we've come to expect from the NYPD. The NYPD has famously criminalized "walking while Black" and "walking while Latino". The addition of "breathing with Muslim" to the list of NYPD-created offenses is a shame but not a complete surprise. The NYPD's efforts to export its special disease of prejudice and discrimination takes its dysfunction to a new level . . . a new low.
Stop and Frisk Update
We learned last week that the NYPD set a new record in 2011 by stopping and frisking more innocent people of color in our city than ever before.
Last week, the NYPD revealed to the New York City Council that stop and frisks by the department reached an all-time high in 2011. According to numbers from the NYPD, 684,330 encounters took place last year, with Blacks and Latinos remaining prime targets.A New York City Council Member is proposing that NYPD personnel be required to leave behind a business card after stopping and frisking our fellow residents. Other cities have used that practice for years, and we support such a measure as a step to bringing some order to the out-of-control stop and frisk practice that has become the signature of the Bloomberg years.
That number is a staggering 14 percent higher than in 2010 and represents a 600 percent increase since 2002, when the NYPD started keeping records of stop-and-frisk incidents. Close to 90 percent of those stopped and frisked in 2011 were Black or Latino, with only 12 percent of the stops actually ending in arrest.