New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg offered a strong defense of his city’s police department’s practice of monitoring mosques, Muslim-owned businesses and student groups.
The mayor’s remarks came after widespread criticisms by elected officials and college administrators, who attacked the practices as being far too intrusive into the lives of people who had committed no crimes.
"We just cannot let our guard down again,” Bloomberg said, speaking on his weekly radio show. However, the mayor did not offer any details of the police department’s anti-terrorism programs. However, he described the initiatives as being “legal, appropriate and constitutional.”
Nonetheless, criticism from public officials has been intensifying, particularly from prominent names in New Jersey. There have been reports by the Associated Press that detailed a practice by the New York police to photograph every mosque in Newark and to develop a roster of Muslim-owned businesses, also in Newark, which is New Jersey's largest city.
In response to those reports about the New York Police Department’s anti-terrorism program, Newark Mayor Cory Booker called for New Jersey officials to investigate the program, calling it “deeply offensive.”
Booker and other officials have maintained that there is no reason for surveillance of citizens who are not legitimately suspected of wrongdoing. The Newark mayor also said that they were concerned that the New York police were conducting surveillance exclusively on Muslims and mosques in New Jersey.
Similarly, the head of New Jersey’s top federal law enforcement agency called the police surveillance program “disturbing.” The New Jersey State Attorney General Jeffrey S. Chiesa is also said to be studying the details of the intelligence program.
Nonetheless, Bloomberg has remained firm about the New York Police Department’s program, saying that it would do “everything that the law permits us to do” in order to protect citizens from terrorism.
“This is not a joke,” the mayor said. “This is not a political statement, a political football to play with.”
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(Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)