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'Muslim Mapping' Report Urges Leaders To Declare That NYPD 'Informants Are Not Tolerated'

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AP Photo / Anthony Behar

The report, "Mapping Muslims: NYPD Spying and its Impact on American Muslims," was released this morning outside NYPD headquarters by the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility project, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.

One of the report's co-authors, Nermeen Arastu of AALDEF, told me that having imams announce that "informants are not tolerated" in the mosque helps "define that space as sacred" and "get the sensitivity that they deserve."

Arastu defended the recommendations, ssaying that the report "is, in a sense, empowering the congregation."

I told the report's other co-author, Diala Shamas of CLEAR, that the "informants are not tolerated" message sounded like the "stop snitching" rhetoric that is a recurring theme in gangster rap and graffiti in some high-crime areas.

She said the two messages, and the circumstances that created those responses, are totally different.

"The way that informants are being used in these communities is to just relay what people are saying, what imams are saying, what political and religious beliefs folks have," Shamas said.

She also said some informants are "pressured" by the police into becoming informants, either for financial reward or to get out of legal trouble. The Associated Press reported that one teenage informant did the work for both of those reasons, and later said he was coached on how to "bait" his targets.

The groups also called on New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli to audit the NYPD's Intelligence Division to see if it "used monies improperly or unlawfully for domestic and foreign operations," and called on New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to "[t]horoughly investigate whether the NYPD Intelligence Division violated state law, and make findings public."

A spokesman for DiNapoli's office declined to comment.

In February, Schneiderman resisted a similar call to investigate the NYPD, with a spokesman citing "significant legal and investigative obstacles that impede our ability to launch a review of this matter at this time."

The report piggybacks on the year-long Pulitzer Prize winning series about the program produced by the Associated Press, which the NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly repeatedly accused of mischaracterizing his department's operations.

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About The Author

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Zoë Schlanger is Frontpage Editor at TPM. Zoë was a TPM intern in 2011, and prior to returning here she was editor in chief of NYU Local, the alternative independent student news site at NYU. Zoë has interned at places like the Nation, InsideClimate News, The Rachel Maddow Show and Gothamist. She can be reached at zoe@talkingpointsmemo.com.