Monday May 14, 2012
Rep. Holt Challenged Over NYPD Spying
In an amendment to an appropriations bill being considered last week, Rep. Rush Holt’s (D-NJ) [pictured left] attempted to strip federal funding from police departments that use ethnic or religious profiling, as the NYPD has done against American Muslims and Arab Americans in and around New York City. Though the amendment ultimately failed, it received support from nearly 200 Representatives, including 16 Republicans. Some on Capitol Hill misunderstood Rep. Holt’s efforts as an attack on the NYPD. Among them are Reps. Peter King and Bob Turner, both Republicans representing New York. After attacking Holt’s amendment on the House floor, the two released a letter to their fellow Representatives urging them to repudiate Holt’s supposed attacks on the NYPD.
The only problem, of course, is that Rep. Holt never attacked the NYPD. The amendment was simply intended to keep federal dollars from funding the illegal and counterproductive surveillance program designed by the NYPD, with help from CIA officers. Police departments depend on the trust and cooperation of the communities they serve, and systematic spying on Muslims erodes the bonds between the American Muslim and Arab American communities that many in the NYPD have worked to strengthen. Rep. Holt said as much in his statement following the release of the King/Turner letter: “History had demonstrated that profiling is an ineffective policing tactic that generates resentment rather than cooperation in targeted communities. Moreover, profiling wastes valuable law enforcement resources on investigating the innocent multitudes rather than identifying the guilty few.” Strong relationships between the NYPD and the Muslim community make it more likely that peaceful Muslims will report extremists in their midst, allowing the NYPD to foil potential terror plots before they ever get off the ground. By trying to preserve these vital relationships, Rep. Holt’s amendment actually looks out for the best interests of the NYPD and the city it serves.
You can view the roll call here to see how your representative voted. Video of Rep. King speaking about the amendment on the House floor is below. You should also encourage your representatives to co-sponsor and vote in favor of H.RES 651, which would express the House’s disapproval of the NYPD’s illegal surveillance of American Muslims and Arab Americans.
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