By Bernard Vaughan
NEW YORK, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Civil rights attorneys on Monday
asked a federal court in Manhattan to order the New York Police
Department to halt its surveillance of Muslims not suspected of
Police surveillance of New York Muslims at restaurants,
bookstores and mosques has been "widespread and intense," the
attorneys wrote in their motion.
They sought an injunction against the NYPD to stop the
tactics and asked that a monitor be appointed to oversee the
"The NYPD supposes that because an organization is connected
with Islam, therefore it is suspect," wrote the five attorneys
for the plaintiffs in court papers filed with U.S. District
Court for the Southern District of New York.
The lawyers said the surveillance is in violation of a
consent decree in a long-running class-action lawsuit that
restricts the NYPD's ability to investigate or spy on people
when there is no "reasonable indication" of unlawful activity or
"Investigations of any community which are not based upon
indications of crime create fear and erode the confidence of a
community in the power of a legal system to protect it," one of
the attorneys, Paul Chevigny, a law professor at New York
University said in a statement.
The consent decree stems from a 1971 lawsuit in response to
NYPD surveillance of anti-war protesters. The litigation led to
the creation in 1985 of the so-called Handschu Guidelines, which
set conditions for NYPD visits to public places or events during
A copy of the injunction request was posted on Monday on
the New York Civil Liberties Union's website.
A spokesman for the NYPD did not immediately respond to a
request for comment on the proposed injunction. In the past, the
police department has defended its surveillance practices.
"Anyone who intimates that it is unlawful for the police
department to search online, visit public places, or map
neighborhoods has either not read, misunderstood, or
intentionally obfuscated the meaning of the Handschu
Guidelines," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said in a 2012
speech at Fordham Law School.
Follow us on Twitter @ReutersLegal | Like us on Facebook