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October 11, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

Linda Sarsour's Testimony for the NYC Council Committee on Public Safety Hearing

Below is Executive Director Linda Sarsour's testimony for the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety Hearing on October 10, 2012.

Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where I live and work is home to the largest Arab American community in the state of New York, an area heavily targeted by NYPD and other federal law enforcement agencies. Our businesses, mosques, coffee shops, civic associations all monitored by the Demographics Unit of the NYPD and mentioned in secret documents revealed through reports by the Associated Press. Young college students who recognized their individual names, emails they sent and events they organized. Our previous Imam, Sheikh Reda Shehata and our mosque Islamic Society of Bay Ridge, were listed amongst those monitored. A mosque, a sacred haven, a place where community members escape to find serenity and deepen their relationship with God. This is the same mosque that has invited and hosted NYPD officials on dozens of occasions, opened our doors to them, broke bread with them and extended our hand in partnership and cooperation. It is these same NYPD officials that have been authorizing the surveillance and monitoring of our entire community, not based on evidence or probable cause but based on ethnicity and religion. Its not just about statistics - the number of mosques, cafes or number of informants – its about the wounded psyche of an entire community. Trauma, mistrust, alienation.

The targeting and profiling of any group based upon race, ethnicity and national origin not only reflects bias but also is completely ineffective means for law enforcement to prevent crime. The Arab and Muslim communities in New York are guilty until proven innocent which goes against everything our constitution and our country stands for.

NYPD officials including Commissioner Kelly who oversaw these initiatives that clearly violate the civil rights of New Yorkers must be investigated and held accountable for their actions and a process must be expediently implemented to safeguard that such abuses will never be justified by NYPD policy. This process is the passage of the Community Safety Act and more specifically the NYPD Inspector General Act. An inspector general would provide transparency thus allowing the Mayor and the City Council to better exercise their oversight responsibilities and increase public confidence in policing. The inspector general would have the mandate, expertise, and perspective to make sure that as NYPD works to keep our communities safe they do so consistent with our constitutionally guaranteed liberties.

“I could tell you that I have never made a lead from rhetoric that came from a Demographics report and I'm here since 2006, I don't recall other ones prior to my arrival." These words are not my words they were said by Assistant Chief of NYPD Thomas Galati in a June 28 deposition. No leads translate to an ineffective program. In light of a weak economy we should ensure that our tax dollars are spent efficiently this includes education, healthcare, infrastructure, transportation. We owe it to New Yorkers to do the right thing and the right thing is to pass the Community Safety Act.
June 27, 2012 Posted by admin in Blog

July 17th Silent March Against Stop-And Frisk

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On Sunday, June 17th the Arab American Association of New York joined over 30,000 New Yorkers to protest the NYPD’s Stop-and-Frisk policy. Over 300 organizations ranging from labor and civil rights groups, to community and faith organizations gathered in Harlem for a silent march to protest racial profiling and demand an end to Stop-and-Frisk.

The week leading up to the march, AAANY youth held discussions about how the Stop-and-Frisk policy personally impacts their lives, and made posters to carry at the march. On Sunday morning, AAANY brought a busload of people from Bay Ridge to 110th street in Harlem where the march began. About 50 people from AAANY joined the thousands of activists at Malcolm X Boulevard to prepare for the march down 5th Ave.

Our organization marched alongside civil rights groups and community organizations from all five boroughs. High School students carried signs, some marching with their parents and younger siblings. The march was completely silent all along 5th Ave, taking on a similar form as a 1917 NAACP march to protest race riots. Speaking at the march AAANY director, Linda Sarsour said, “We’re here because we will not allow the New York Police Department to spy on our entire community based on our ethnicity and religion. Today we are a ray of beautiful colors from across New York City standing and marching for justice”

The march stretched for blocks along Central Park and Arab and Muslim groups were well represented among the protesters and activists present. Before the march, members of a Pakistani community organization handed out posters to our group that read, “Muslim’s against Stop-and Frisk” After the march, Muslim groups came together and held a Jummah inside Central Park where they prayed for those who had been affected by the Stop-and-Frisk policy. AAANY marched alongside a number of different faith groups and organizations that all came out to express their opposition to the Stop-and Frisk policy.

The current Stop-and-Frisk policy directly affects members of the Arab American community and the June 17th march was a way for AAANY to engage in activism and join with other New Yorkers to demand an end the racist policy.

See Video From The March: Silent March

See Pictures from the March:

-Katherine Kusiak Carey