NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A federal judge on Thursday threw out a civil rights lawsuit challenging surveillance by the NYPD of Muslims in New Jersey.
Newark U.S. District Judge William Martini ruled Thursday that the plaintiffs hadn’t shown that the NYPD’s intelligence unit had discriminated against them by spying on mosques and other locations in New Jersey.
The Center for Constitutional Rights, which represented the plaintiffs, warned the ruling could give the green light to spying on Muslims anywhere in the country. The city’s Law Department had no immediate comment.
The 2012 lawsuit was the first to challenge the NYPD’s surveillance programs chronicling life in entire Muslim neighborhoods.
The uproar over the programs followed a series of articles by The Associated Press that revealed the NYPD operated secretly in New Jersey neighborhoods where Muslims lived and worked. They spied on Muslim organizations, infiltrated Muslim student groups and videotaped mosque-goers.
The NYPD has said its operations were lawful and necessary to keep the city safe. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the NYPD can gather intelligence anywhere in the country it wants and is not required to tell local authorities.
In campaigning for office last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio said on his watch, broad NYPD surveillance tactics focused on Muslims would only be authorized to follow up on specific leads, and the police force would be under the supervision of a new inspector general.
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