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NYPD Secretly Labeled Mosques As Terrorist Organizations

The New York Police Department has secretly been labeling mosques as terrorist organizations to allow it to spy on imams and have informants record sermons; in many cases without any evidence a crime had been committed according to a report from The Associated Press. The NYPD has labeled at least a dozen mosques this way to investigate them for terrorism. The investigations can last for years even without proof a crime has been committed and without any charges being brought. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Ray Kelly defended their actions. "What we do is we try to keep this city safe, totally consistent with what the laws require,” Bloomberg said. "We believe that we are compliant with those laws.” Arab American groups and civil liberties groups said they were horrified by the news and some have called for a federal investigation into the practice.

 


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Poll Shows De Blasio With BIg Lead (NY Times)

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The city asked a judge to put a freeze on her ruling that stop-and-frisk practices be overhauled and a monitor for the NYPD be installed until its appeal of the decision was heard. In the administration's request, numbers were cited showing a significant drop in the stops. Mayor Bloomberg will also begin making public weekly updates on crime statistics. Meanwhile, Commissioner Kelly announced that the number of people shot by police dropped to 18 this year compared with 22 at this point last year. In related news, the NYPD has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorism organizations.

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The City Council yesterday voted to override Mayor Bloomberg's veto of two stop-and-frisk reform bills known as the Community Safety Act. The inspector general bill override passed with a vote of 39-10, while the profiling bill override passed 34-15. Speaker Quinn supported the inspector general measure but opposed the profiling bill. She said she doesn't expect any conflict between the inspector general and a federal court-appointed monitor mandated earlier this month. Bloomberg vowed legal action against the profiling bill.

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The New York Police Department’s practice of stop-and-frisk violated constitutional protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, a judge ruled yesterday in a decision that included a call for a court-assigned independent monitor to oversee several reforms.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose administration has aggressively defended the practice as necessary to keep crime at historic lows, called the decision “very dangerous.”

"We believe we have done exactly what the courts allow and what the Constitution allows us to do,” he said.

He promised to appeal the decision — but the legal fight will likely outlast his stewardship of the city and will be left to his successor. Democratic candidates for mayor largely said they would abide by the court’s decision. Republican candidates called on the Bloomberg administration to fight it.

In her decision, federal judge Shira Scheindlin found that the city’s stop-and-frisk relied on “indirect racial profiling” by targeting minority communities and that officers stopped “blacks and Hispanics who would not have been stopped if they were white.” She said the practice violated the Fourth Amendment, as well as the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause.

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The U.S. Justice Department will probe whether the civil rights of a black teen were violated when he was shot and killed by a police officer last year. A Bronx grand jury declined to charge the cop with manslaughter on Wednesday. The boy's family was unable to obtain a special prosecutor for the case. The officer had previously been indicted by another jury. That decision was overturned by a judge who said the jury should take into account that another officer said the teen was armed. The cop gave an emotional and precise testimony this time, as opposed to the last one where he appeared nervous. The teen was shot in his own home and no gun was found, only a small bag of marijuana. The officer also still faces a disciplinary review by the Police Department.

DON'T MISS: THIS WEEK IN GOTHAM GAZETTE

Policy Dreamin' At Manhattan BP Debate: All of them think Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Midtown East rezoning plan is moving much too fast. All of them concede they are willing to revisit the City Charter to improve land use procedures. They all want to diversify their appointments. And they want to connect the limited powers of the office they are seeking to a wider breadth of pressing issues. By Chester Soria. 

Op-Ed: Preservation Can Contribute To Affordability by Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

GothamVotes: A Conversation With Mayoral Candidate Christine Quinn by Chester Soria

PLUS: Don't forget to check our site devoted to the historic 2013 elections: GothamVotes2013.com

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Yesterday the Council voted 41-8 in favor of bringing two NYPD bills to a floor vote, bypassing a committee where they were being held up. This is the first time such a "discharge vote" has been used since 1989. One bill would create an independent monitor for the department and the other would allow individuals to sue over stops resulting from bias. The Council could vote on the bills as early as tomorrow. Former Manhattan D.A. Robert Morgenthau spoke in opposition to the bills at a rally yesterday. Queens D.A. Richard Brown and Staten Island D.A. Dan Donovan also attended. The monitor bill is expected to get enough votes to override a mayoral veto, while the other is less certain.

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NEW YORK — Legendary former Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau recalled yesterday how in the 1960s and 1970s police avoided making stops of potential suspects out of fear of retribution.

"That's where we were," he said as he stood with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and a bevy of law enforcement leaders who had gathered at One Police Plaza. They had gathered to voice their opposition to a package of City Council bills aimed, in part, at reining in the New York Police Department's use of stop-and-frisk.

Morgenthau, who was the city's top prosecutor for more than three decades until his retirement in 2009, praised the NYPD's record and said that, instead of pursuing the legislation, the Council should tackle what he called the disproportionate deaths of black men by gun violence.

"What's the City Council going to do about that?" he asked. "If City Council wants to do something that's important, let see how they can reduce or propose a reduction of the murder of African American men."

It was an argument that echoed defenses of stop-and-frisk put forth in the past by Bloomberg and Kelly.

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This weekend saw 26 shootings, where seven victims died. That's 5 percent of the city's total shootings for the year so far. Most of the incidences were in Brooklyn. In response, Commissioner Kelly said he'd boost foot patrols in the projects, increase plain clothes detectives in anti-crime units, and add surveillance towers. Still, the number of shootings so far this year is the lowest in a decade and 29 percent less than last year.

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Vallone Blocking NYPD Bills From Vote (Wall Street Journal)

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Tagged in: crime NYPD

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A judge ruled on Wednesday for the city to extend its hotel program for displaced victims of Hurricane Sandy. The city had originally planned on kicking remaining 196 evacuess out of hotels on April 30 but an extensionwill give victims until May 15. Five Sandy evacuees filed a lawsuit to gain the extension on Monday. The city Department of Homeless Services provided hotel rooms to victims who did not qualify for the FEMA hotel program. The FEMA program had previously been extended untill May 29. 


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Mayor Bloomberg delivered a passionate speech yesterday defending his police policies and lashing out at critics. He lambasted civil rights groups and the media for not showing outrage at the recent murder of a boy in the Bronx. He signaled out the NY Times in particular for publishing an article opposing stop and frisk days afterwards. The paper's rebuttal was that the editorial and news gathering sections are separate. But they did however mention the shooting in an op-ed. The victim's mother supports the policy. Bloomberg also panned legislation in the City Council that would create an independent monitor for the NYPD and another addressing profiling. He argued that outside agencies wouldn't share sensitive information if another department could gain access to it and that it would somehow sow confusion among the ranks of who was in charge. The mayor also claimed that the second bill would bar the use of skin color in descriptions of suspects, which the bill's co-sponsor points out is not the case.

SUPERSTORM SANDY ROUNDUP

A New York Supreme Court judge will hear arguments today in a lawsuit that could determine the outcome for hundreds of people displaced by Superstorm Storm and facing eviction from a city-funded hotel program that was supposed to terminate at the end of April. The New York Times reports that relief efforts by members of Occupy Wall Street has created a split in the nascent movement. Community groups in low-lying neighborhoods aren't waiting for the government to develop plans to respond to extreme weather; they've decided to create their own agenda. 

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg has lashed out at critics of the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactics, including mayoral candidates, who he said are playing politics and undermining law enforcement. 

During a speech to an audience of NYPD leaders today, Bloomberg took umbrage at two bills proposed by City Council members that seek to increase oversight of stop, question and frisk, directly tying the program to the city's record-low crime rates and ongoing counterterrorism efforts.

The outgoing mayor also took grave offense with some of his potential successors and their willingness to make the city less safe by supporting "politically driven legislation."

"My message is simple: stop playing politics with public safety," Bloomberg said to an audience of NYPD leaders. "Look at what’s happened in Boston. Remember what happened here on 9/11. Remember all of those who’ve been killed by gun violence — and the families they left behind. We owe it to all of them to give our officers the tools they need to protect innocent lives or people will needlessly die and we’ll all be responsible."

Calling the police department officers "first preventers," the mayor argued that the numbers used to argue against stop-and-frisk prove the need for the practice. Bloomberg defended the program as a deterrence against gun possession and crime, and that the movement to end stop-and-frisk would turn the clock back on the city's low crime rates.

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In his third press conference on the subject in recent weeks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak to leadership from the New York Police Department on public safety today.

Bloomberg's speech follows last week's address from City Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Christine Quinn's speech on the same subject.

Bloomberg has now held multiple press conferences with NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly on the heels of Boston marathon attacks, often discussing increased surveillance and opposition to what he calls "special interests" looking to change the Police Department's current practices.

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The Boston bombing suspects allegedly discussed bombing Times Square while driving around after the attack in a stolen car that ran out of gas eventually. The talk was characterized as spontaneous. One senior law enforcement official played it down as more "stream of consciousness" than plan. Mayor Bloomberg says he doesn't know if they could have been stopped had they made it. But at this point, their faces were plastered all over television and the internet, and Times Square is heavily surveilled at all times. Bloomberg also used the plot as an argument to expand the city's counterterrorism capabilities and intelligence gathering activities. The Daily News reports that Commissioner Kelly was upset that the FBI didn't share the information about Times Square sooner, but wouldn't criticize them publicly.

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New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants the police department to be bigger than it is under Mayor Michael Bloomberg — and to better relate with the people that it protects.

The Democratic candidate for mayor defended most of Bloomberg's current policing strategy anc called for an additional 1,600 uniformed officers, but tried to reach a middle ground on the city's stop, question and frisk policy.  

While she reiterated her support for an independent police monitor to oversee the department, Quinn distanced herself from a proposed law that would expand the city's law against racial profiling.

"We need to sustain the progress we've made over the past 12 years, fix what hasn't worked and build a stronger bond between police and the communities they serve," she said.

Quinn also defended Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who Quinn has previously lauded despite disagreement on the stop-and-frisk policy. She called his work "incredible" and said that anyone who fails to recognize his work "is simply out of touch with the reality of life in New York City."

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Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that there have been no specific threats to New York City, but the department is reviewing security plans for upcoming public events. The police received 77 reports of suspicious packages in the past 24 hours, while the norm is 21. La Guardia Airport's main terminal was temporarily evacuated after an unattended parcel was found. Mayor Bloomberg used the Boston incident to highlight that the city must remain vigilant against terrorists and that "special interests" must not shape security strategies. He continues to take the subway part of the way to City Hall. The Saudi national that the NY Post had reported on was a witness, not a suspect.

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Tagged in: Civil Rights NYPD terror

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The New York Police Department is taking additional security precautions for at least two public events this weekend following the attack at the Boston Marathon. 

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said that there have been no specific threats to New York City, but that the city remains vigilant in the wake of yesterday's bombing of the annual running event in Boston. 

Kelly said the NYPD was reviewing security plans for a 5K Run/Walk and family day for the 9/11 memorial and a four-mile race in Central Park for the City Parks Foundation

"We are certainly evaluating, or reevaluating them, in light of the event that took place yesterday," he said at a press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg at City Hall today. The Boston flag was at half-mast in front of City Hall in remembrance of the victims of the attack. 

"We are vigilant, but we are vigilant for a good cause," Kelly said.

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Following the Boston Marathon bombing, Mayor Bloomberg said 1,000 counter-terrorism NYPD officers have been mobilized until more is known about the attack. Law enforcement also went on high alert throughout the transit system, although there appeared to be no specific threat. Gov. Cuomo has directed state agencies to be on heightened alert as well. The New York Post published a controversial report that a Saudi man is being held for questioning in Boston.

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Tagged in: NYPD safety terrorism

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Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota says City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's support for an independent police monitor is "reckless," "dangerous" and "redundant." 

Lhota made the comments about Quinn, a Democrat who is also seeking to be mayor, from a prepared text while standing next to a super-sized printout of New York Police Department CompStat numbers.

"The police department needs to maintain a laser-like focus in the reduction of crime," Lhota said. "We can't allow reckless behavior like putting a handcuff on the police department, which is what the inspector general bill will do."

A supporter of NYPD's stop-and-frisk program, Lhota said that he would expect the NYPD to regularly train officers on how to use what he described as a constitutional practice.

The candidate praised Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD Commisioner Ray Kelly for their leadership on crime reduction, but also pointed to a spike in felony crimes between 2011 and 2012, which he highlighted on the board next to him. Lhota argued that public safety in the city is in too fragile a state to consider putting in place another level of bureaucracy on the police department.

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Yesterday Police Commissioner Kelly spoke for the first time about the idea of creating an inspector general for NYPD. “I think putting in another layer of so-called supervision or monitoring can ultimately make this city unsafe," he said. Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg commented on the mayoral candidates' ability to keep the city safe: “What we don’t know is what they will actually do to reduce crime. We don’t even know if it’s a goal.” Mayoral Candidate William Thompson said Tuesday he wants an inspector who would report to the commissioner. In related news, three cops who have stopped-and-frisked an unusual amount of people will offer their perspective on the practice at a trial over its constitutionality.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the introduction of any legislation that would create an inspector general to independently monitor the NYPD will set a dangerous precedent for the city.

He said the plan is a political play during an election year that would create redundant bureaucracy.

"Together, the mayor and the commissioner set the direction of the department — and they do not need an unelected and unaccountable official to supervise their policy decisions," Bloomberg said. "The bill being considered by the City Council would undermine the accountability that has been essential in the department’s success — and make our city less safe."

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, one of the leading Democratic candidates for mayor who yesterday announced she would support a measure to create an inspector general for the NYPD, told reporters at City Hall that it was unfortunate the mayor disagrees with the bill. But she said she expects the bill to pass with overwhelming support as soon as it's introduced. She said she would push back against a mayoral veto.

"I can guarantee we will override it," she said.

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