They responded at a news conference outside New York Police Department headquarters to police claims that the counterterrorism tactics were harmless.
The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition and its partners interviewed Muslims around the city and found that many feel they can’t trust anybody, even while praying, and are afraid to participate in social and political activities.
The surveillance has had “a profound chilling effect on First Amendment-protected speech and worship” at mosques and on campuses, said City Councilman Brad Lander, who joined the news conference and whose constituents include Muslims.
The two entities that worked with the coalition were the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility, or CLEAR, project of the City University of New York School of Law.
NYPD surveillance “has stifled speech, communal life and religious practice and criminalized a broad segment of American Muslims,” fund attorney Nermeen Arastu said.
The surveillance was the subject of a series of stories by The Associated Press that revealed the NYPD intelligence division infiltrated dozens of mosques and Muslim student groups and investigated hundreds.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly has defended the tactics, saying officers observed legal guidelines.