NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Is it religious profiling or good police work?
An intense debate is underway in our area amid new revelations that NYPD spying on Muslim communities included neighborhoods in Nassau and Suffolk counties and Newark, N.J.
And as CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reports, the feds may soon get involved.
They are mosques and businesses, even a beauty salon, all over Newark and Long Island and they were all spied on by the NYPD in the wake of 9/11.
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One of the places under surveillance was a Valley Stream halal meat market. Undercover officers said that they found a collection box for a local mosque.
However, the butcher there said has no problem with the NYPD spying.
“NYPD is like … a good,” Wassim Naqva said. “No, I’m happy about it.”
But a woman at a Valley Stream mosque that was also on the watch list had a different take.
“I think that it’s a violation of our rights. It’s our right to practice religion freely,” she said.
The NYPD is on the hot seat over its surveillance practices in the Muslim community. U.S. Senator Robert Menendez is demanding a Justice Department investigation of what went on in Newark.
“I’m deeply concerned about reports that the NYPD focused on individuals in my state who were not suspected of any criminal activity,” Sen. Menendez said.
Sources told CBS 2’s Kramer that the Newark Police Department — the chief was then Garry McCarthy — was briefed both before and after, and that a Newark police liaison officer accompanied NYPD personnel.
Mayor Cory Booker brushed that aside on Thursday.
“They reached out as a courtesy to Garry McCarthy and asked for some basic information from our department,” Booker said.
However, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said on Thursday that Newark police were fully aware of the operation.
“In this particular case, [the NYPD] did notify Newark officials, before and after…a Newark liaison officer was assigned to the NYPD personnel when they were in there,” Browne told reporters.
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House Homeland Security Chairman Peter King defended the NYPD’s actions as vital to the anti-terrorism fight.
“Ray Kelly and the NYPD should get a medal for what they’re doing. This is good police work. If you’re going after radical Muslims you don’t go to Ben’s kosher deli,” Rep. King said.
Spokesmen for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly said they were not available Thursday and will address the issue Friday.
Muslim groups are considering filing suit, charging that their civil rights were violated.
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