New York Neighbors for American Values statement on Shooting at Sikh Temple

New York Neighbors for American Values wishes to express our sympathy to the Sikh community of Wisconsin over the shooting that took place in their house of worship and deaths of their co-religionists, New York Neighbors for American Values embraces the American constitutional values of religious freedom, diversity and equality; we are stronger when we work together. We stand together with the Sikh community in the U.S., as we do all communities, working to strengthen the fabric of our vibrant city and country. We rebuff the crude stereotypes meant to frighten and divide us.

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Summary of the AP Reports Detailing NYPD Surveillance of Muslim Communities

Beginning August of 2011, the Associated Press released a series of reports documenting NYPD surveillance programs targeting Muslims. Since new articles continued to reveal more details about these programs and their impacts, we have organized a list below of the most illuminating articles and a brief explanation of some of their key revelations.  All the AP articles are available here:

Note-for context, it is important to include the following public document, produced by the NYPD in 2007, which many see as outlining the analysis that these programs are using:

Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat

  • Outlines a “path to radicalization” for Muslims in NYC with specific behaviors as indicators of a potential terrorist.
  • Details 11 cases of terrorism in to extrapolate common factors that led the individuals to turn violent.
  • Asserts that activities such as growing a beard, praying 5 times a day and, bizarrely, camping and whitewater rafting as evidence of a proclivity for violence and terrorism.

August 23, 2011- Initial report after a months long investigation including interviews with over 40 current and former NYPD officer.

  • Details CIA partnership in NYPD counter-terrorism, starting with David Cohen.
  • NYPD engaging in intelligence gathering in New Jersey.
  • Refers to “rakers” and “human mapping” as a means to gather general intelligence on Muslim communities.
  • Browne stated that the demographic unit does not exist, rather a zone assessment unit that looks for locations that could attract terrorists, denies trolling neighborhoods and said they only follow leads.

August 31, 2011- Inside the spy unit that NYPD says doesn’t exist

  • Obtained documents from the NYPD outlining the Demographics unit
  • Identified 28 ancestries of interest (predominantly Muslim countries) and the “American black Muslim” as possible targets.
  • NYPD documents used the term “rakers” (which the NYPD had previously denied existed)

September 22, 2011- NYPD eyed US citizens in intel effort

  • Obtained NYPD documents outlining the Moroccan Initiative.
  • US citizens were targeted for surveillance based on ethnicity, without evidence of involvement in a particular crime.
  • Contains photographs of businesses thought to cater to Moroccans, with the ethnicities of the owners noted, or whether the restaurants serve halal meat, etc.
  • AP obtained documents with a list of every Moroccan cab driver in the city, and the NYPD attempted to interview all of them but many were unavailable.
  • Police used I-94 immigration paperwork to obtain the addresses of Moroccan immigrants and visitors. They would visit these homes, sometimes making a cover story about a missing child to gain entrance to the home and gather general intelligence about the inside of the residence.
  • Documents sought to reveal how immigrants coming to the US would remain under the radar, or become Americanized (what neighborhoods, businesses and institutions they would utilize).

October 6, 2011- NYPD spied on city’s Muslim anti-terror partners

  • Some public partners and supporters of the city’s anti-terrorism efforts were being secretly spied on themselves, some with multiple informants placed in their mosques or otherwise able to monitor their activities.

October 10, 2011- NYPD infiltration of colleges raises privacy fears

  • “Investigators have been infiltrating Muslim student groups at Brooklyn College and other schools in the city, monitoring their Internet activity and placing undercover agents in their ranks”
  • “By 2006, police had identified 31 Muslim student associations and labeled seven of them “MSAs of concern,”.
  • NYPD detectives approached campus police saying they were working narcotics or gang cases and sometimes even access to records. Police used the records to identify students they were observing and get contact information, potentially violating the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

October 26, 2011- NYPD shadows Muslims who change names

  • “The NYPD monitors everyone in the city who changes his or her name. For those whose names sound Arabic or might be from Muslim countries, police run comprehensive background checks that include reviewing travel records, criminal histories, business licenses and immigration documents. All this is recorded in police databases for supervisors, who review the names and select a handful of people for police to visit.”

November 8, 2011- Law may not be on Muslims’ side in NYPD intel case

  • Chronicles the changes in policy over time weakening the protections against surveillance

Here are two reports which analyze the surveillance of Muslims from the NYU Law Center for Human Rights and Global Justice:

Targeted and Entrapped: Manufacturing the “Homegrown Threat” in the United States

Under the Radar: Muslims Deported, Detained, and Denied Based on Unsubstantiated Terrorism Allegations

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Report Release – Park 51 and Beyond: Building Community from Controversy

Common Cause New York and New York Neighbors for American Values are officially releasing a report today entitled Park 51 and Beyond: Building Community from Controversy (available at the link).

The report is an analysis of the manufactured controversy surrounding the Park 51 project, featuring “lessons learned” from the media firestorm that erupted  as well as a toolkit for communities facing similar attacks. It also uses case examples of other recent controversies, illustrating the ways in which anti-Muslim rhetoric has been used to manufacture outrage at various projects and individuals.

We hope that the analysis and toolkit will be helpful to all communities looking to fight discrimination and bigotry, and stand up for the constitutional and American values of diversity, equality and freedom of religion.

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Park 51 and Beyond:

Building Community from Controversy

From smaller conflicts that play out in local papers and community meetings to international media frenzies, Muslims have faced increasing attacks on their right to freely practice their religion, build institutions and strengthen their communities.  Join us for a panel discussion on the lessons learned from a decade of anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate-mongering, including an analysis of the organized and well-funded networks of Islamophobic activists and organizations that have instigated many of these conflicts.

Common Cause New York will be officially releasing their handbook, “Park 51 and Beyond: Building Community from Controversy”, an analysis of the manufactured controversy surrounding the Park 51 project, featuring a toolkit for communities facing similar attacks.


Udi Ofer, New York Civil Liberties Union

Susan Lerner, Common Cause New York

Peter Montgomery, People for the American Way

Megan Putney, Muslim Consultative Network

Tuesday, November 15th 2011


The Commons Brooklyn

388 Atlantic Avenue (between Bond and Hoyt)
Brooklyn, NY

RSVP on Facebook or

By train
Hoyt-Schermerhorn; A, C and G
Bergen Street; F
Atlantic-Pacific; B, M, Q, R, 2, 3, 4 and 5
Flatbush Avenue; LIRR

By bus
B63 and B65

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Photos from Our Vigil on September 8th, 2011

Also feel free to post your photos from the event on our Facebook page.

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Vigil Today Will Be As Planned at Church and Park Place

The forecast for rain is now between 30% & 40% so we will go on as planned! Hope to see you there!

So many of you joined us last year for our powerful  candlelight vigil on September 10th, 2010, and we thank you. The context last summer was somewhat different than today, as a manufactured controversy surrounding the building of an Islamic community center in downtown Manhattan became an international news story.

We joined together to commemorate 9/11 by standing up for diversity, equality and freedom of religion—and our voices were heard across the country.

We invite you to join us again TODAY, September 8th, 2011 to send the message that 10 years after 9/11, we are still standing up for American values, and refuse to allow discrimination against our neighbors no matter what their national origin or religion.

Candles will be provided, please do not bring political signs or placards.

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Virtual Vigil on 9/11–Starting at 9am

Please join us for a Virtual Vigil on Twitter and Facebook on September 11th from 9am EDT through the rest of the day, to let the world know how 9/11 affected you and how you plan to commemorate the day in a way that fosters understanding,  diversity and service in your communities. This anniversary can be an occasion to recall the ways in which our city and country experienced numerous expressions of unity, empathy and a renewed faith in each other as many of us joined together in the days, months and years following the tragedy. Please join our virtual rally on Twitter and Facebook to let us show the world this side!

Note: In the social media world, there is always a risk that you will get the attention of folks who want to disrupt your activities by posting irrelevant, provocative or just plain hateful speech, sometimes called “trolls”. Though we hope that the nature of this topic this will discourage this, we should be prepared for it. On Facebook, do make sure to have someone monitoring your organization’s the page for these kinds of posts or comments, so that you can delete them. On Twitter, you cannot delete someone else’s tweets; however it is very important that you don’t get involved in a back and forth with someone who is provoking us. This virtual vigil is about peace, empathy, community service and understanding—it is not the time for political debates. There is a saying in some internet communities, “Don’t feed the trolls”. This basically means, don’t add fuel to the fire, and if you ignore them they will likely get bored and go away.

See detailed instruction below:

The Twitter Virtual Vigil: Tell us how 9/11 impacted you and how you plan to foster understanding, diversity and service in your communities by posting a message on twitter using the hashtag #911virtualvigil. In addition to your hashtag we are asking you to tweet NY Neighbors for American Values by typing in @NyNeighbors.  To reflect how 911 impacted people across the country we are asking people to post their zip codes after their post!

  • Use the hashtag #911virtualvigil for all of your 9/11-related tweets
  • Mention @NYNeighbors in your tweet

Some sample tweets would look like:

@nyneighbors “Our diversity is our strength. Sarah, #11217”

@nyneighbors “After 911 NYers came together in unity. David, #11222 #911virtualvigil”

@nyneighbors “Nebraska joins NY in saying we will never forget. I plan to help my neighbor today. Joan, 10034 #911virtualvigil”

Facebook Virtual Vigil: On Facebook change your default picture to the New York Neighbors for American Values logo for a few hours to reflect the values of religious freedom, diversity, and equality. You can download the logo from our Facebook page. Tag New York Neighbors for American Values in your status updates to let us know what you will be doing to commemorate 911 or simply post on our Facebook wall.

How to tag  New York Neighbors in your Facebook Status:

Step 1: Log Into Facebook, (make sure you “Like” New York Neighbors facebook page).
Step 2: Type @New York Neighbors into your status. (Be sure not to put a space between @ and N)
Step 3: When the New York Neighbors Page appears below your status hit the down arrow so that it’s highlighted in blue. Hit enter.
Step 4: Add your message.
Step 5: Click “Share”!

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New York Neighbors Upcoming Events Commemorating 9/11

Wednesday, September 7th-9/11: Refuting Stereotypes & Challenging the Common Wisdom-  Roundtable discussion on the aftermath of 9/11. 10am-12pm at the New york County Lawyers Association at 14 Vesey St, NY NY. RSVP here, today!

Thursday, September 8th- Our Diversity is our Strength: Standing Together 10 Years Later- Vigil at the intersection of Church and Park place. Featuring speakers, musicians and poets. 7-9pm. RSVP here, today!

9/11: Refuting Stereotypes & Challenging the Common Wisdom

September 7th, 2011


The New York County Lawyers Association

14 Vesey Street, NY (between Broadway and Church)

Refreshments will be served

Space is limited; please RSVP to ensure entry at

Examining What Went Wrong and What Went Right in New York’s Ensuing Decade

In this roundtable discussion, New York Neighbors for American Values will look at the impact and aftermath of the tragedy of September 11 on New York City and its people. Experts drawn from various organizations and universities will explore the way in which New York’s diverse communities rallied together after the tragedy, each using their unique character to help the city as a whole. We will examine the extraordinary spirit of cooperation that was revealed as well as the missteps that occurred in the years following the attacks.  These experiences, as we lived them, refute the many negative stereotypes that political opportunists have conjured up, emphasizing instead the strength and diversity that has allowed New York to rebuild.

Moderated by award-winning journalist, and current faculty at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Tom Robbins.

Speakers include:

Catherine McVay Hughes, NY Community Board 1; David Dyssegaard Kallick, Fiscal Policy Institute; Donna Lieberman, New York Civil Liberties Union; Juan Gonzalez, Democracy Now and NY Daily News; Linda Sarsour, Arab American Association of New York; Margaret Fung, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund; Peter Marcuse, Columbia University; Talat Hamdani, 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

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New York Civil Liberties Union Releases Report on Anti-Mosque Activities in NYS

from NYCLU, read the full text here:

NYCLU Study Examines Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State

August 24, 2011 —  The New York Civil Liberties Union today released a briefing paper examining the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment and anti-mosque activities throughout New York State.

The briefing paper, Religious Freedom Under Attack: the Rise of Anti-Mosque Activities in New York State, explores the legal and cultural background against which mosque controversies have unfolded across the state over the past year. It calls on public officials to promote intercultural understanding of Muslim New Yorkers while respecting the First Amendment rights of those who oppose mosque projects.

“When we violate one group’s freedom, everybody’s liberty is at stake,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “While opponents of mosque projects have a constitutional right to express their views, our public officials must work to ensure that New York remains a welcoming place for all who want to live and worship here, and that the rights and freedoms of those who wish to build mosques are also protected.”

The paper provides nine examples of incidents across the state in which Muslim communities were targeted for their beliefs and practices by their neighbors and/or local governments. It chronicles the fierce opposition to the proposed Park51 Muslim community center in Lower Manhattan, and details heated opposition to mosques and proposed mosque projects in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn; Midland beach, Staten Island; and three communities in Long Island. It also covers three incidents in upstate New York in which mosques were subjected to harassment and attacks.

The paper examines the role that federal national security policies, law enforcement agencies and politicians have played in inflaming anti-Muslim sentiment and anti-mosque activities.

“Government policies that cast blanket suspicion on all Muslim residents are misguided and divisive,” said NYCLU Advocacy Director Udi Ofer, an author of the paper. “Religious profiling was unconstitutional before 9/11, and it’s unconstitutional after 9/11. Our elected officials must stand up for religious freedom and ensure that New Yorkers treat each other with respect and understanding.”

The NYCLU offers the following recommendations to federal, state and local public officials to protect religious liberty while also respecting the First Amendment rights of those who oppose mosque projects:

  • Elected officials should play an active role in protecting the rights of Muslim New Yorkers and fostering cross-cultural understandings.
  • New York should prepare for another backlash against Muslims leading up to the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and during next year’s presidential and congressional elections.
  • The NYPD should reject trainings based on its flawed radicalization theory, include information about New York’s diverse cultures and religious communities in its training materials and be transparent about how it trains its police officers about Islam and Muslim New Yorkers.
  • New York’s schools must take the lead in creating cultural understanding and combating bigotry.
  • Government officials must vigorously enforce laws that defend religious worship.
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NY Neighbors Responds to Turner Ads Evoking Park51

Bob Turner’s commercial attacking David Weprin’s past statements in support of religious freedom represents the worst sort of opportunistic racism and religious prejudice. It needlessly fans fear and intolerance and should be roundly rejected. We at New York Neighbors for American Values call on our elected leaders and officials of all political parties to condemn Turner’s conduct for its bigotry and the damage which it does to political discourse in our city.

A link to the ads:

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