The NYPD's Muslim Dragnet That May Become A Siege

 

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The New York City Police Department's secret “mapping” of Muslim neighborhoods looks very much like the prelude to a siege. African Americans, whose neighborhoods are also treated as “hot spots,” in NYPD parlance, know the drill. And, since an estimated 35 percent of U.S. Muslims are African American, these zones of hyper-surveillance overlap.

 

The NYPD's Muslim Dragnet That May Become A Siege

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The districts that the NYPD is mapping to surveil, contain and control Muslims overlap with the already existing Black zones of the city.”

In the 1998 Denzel Washington movie “The Siege,” the United States responds to a series of terrorist attacks with a presidential declaration of martial law and the military occupation of Muslim-populated parts of Brooklyn. Recently published reports show that the real-life occupiers of Brooklyn, the New York City Police Department, have, since 9/11, been engaged in the kind of deep and wide intelligence gathering that would logically precede just such an urban siege.

The reports reveal that the NYPD’s 500-officer counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism unit – the biggest such force in the nation outside of the FBI – operates a Demographic Unit that is busily “mapping” areas of the city where Muslims live and congregate. What are they trying to learn? Everything. For what purpose? Clearly, the answer isn’t too different than Denzel’s Hollywood version.

Civil liberties lawyers are in federal court, trying to get a judge to allow them to find out if the New York police are violating a 25-year-old court order that puts limits on police political surveillance. At present, there is no oversight whatsoever of the NYPD’s political police. But, through the diligence of the Associated Press and the the site NYPD Confidential, we have learned the Department’s Demographic Unit is intensely surveying locations in the city and nearby New Jersey and Connecticut where Muslims “socialize, shop and pray.” On a “map” of the white community, such places would simply be called churches and synagogues, stores and malls, and recreation sites. But when Muslims are being mapped, the term is “hot spots” – and all that conveys. Hot spots are to be suppressed, snuffed out, eradicated – placed under siege.

In hot spots, no one is considered innocent, and every investigation begins with a criminal or terroristic assumption. Black America has always lived in hot spots, places of hyper-surveillance where a police officer’s perception of “furtive movements” on a public street is grounds for stop-and-frisk – a police obsession that insults the humanity of 600,000 mostly Black and Latino New Yorkers every year – and where whole communities have been “Black-lined” as instant free-fire zones.

Hot spots are to be suppressed, snuffed out, eradicated – placed under siege.”

So, African Americans understand the meaning of “hot spots.” The new districts that the NYPD is mapping to surveil, contain and control Muslims overlap with the already existing Black zones of the city. An estimated 35 percent of Muslims in the United States are African Americans. They make up a huge proportion of the Muslims the FBI’s agent provocateurs have entrapped in alleged terrorist plots that were wholly manufactured by the American state. Ensnaring a Black Muslim is a kind of “two-fer” for the FBI and its not-so-junior partner, the NYPD: two national security enemies in one.

The NYPD maintains a list of countries, or nationalities, that they call “ancestries of interest.” An Associated Press reporter asked President Obama's assistant attorney general for civil rights, Thomas Perez, if the administration considered Black American Muslims to be an “ancestry of interest.” Perez wouldn't respond. But we know the answer. The U.S. national security state is a direct descendant of the slave-holding state. We are the original “ancestry of interest” - the people of the “hot spots.”

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].

 
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