The New York Police Department (NYPD) [official website] came to a settlement agreement [text] on Thursday in two civil rights lawsuits accusing the NYPD of wrongfully monitoring Muslims after the 9/11 attacks. In October the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit [official website] revived [JURIST report] the civil rights lawsuit filed by a coalition of Muslim groups that accused the NYPD of conducting unjustified surveillance of Muslims in New Jersey. The police department has agreed [WSJ report] to reinstate a civilian attorney to a panel that will ensure that no first amendment rights are violated during all surveillance. The appointee will be an outside observer with no connection to the police department and appointed by the mayor. The department has also agreed to place a time limit on investigations and officially support the existing NYPD policy that it is illegal to profile based upon religious activity. The NYPD has not acknowledged improper monitoring of Muslims and has made no admission of guilt within the settlement. The department states that the changes enforce already guiding principles in use.
In April 2014 the new commissioner of the NYPD William Bratton announced [JURIST report] the disbanding of the Demographics Unit surveillance unit used to spy on the Muslim communities. In February 2014 a judge for the US District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled [JURIST report] that the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims was a lawful effort for national security and did not constitute harm or violation of civil rights. The Muslim Advocates filed [JURIST report] the lawsuit in 2012. In September 2013 former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly admitted [JURIST report] that the NYPD spied on mosques and on a Muslim preacher but requested that the court dismiss the complaint.