The last of three lawsuits over the surveillance of Muslims by the New York Police Department was settled on Thursday, ending years of litigation over a decade-long spying program in which detectives eavesdropped on conversations in cafes, asked people about their views on drone strikes and designated mosques as potential terrorist organizations, the New York Times reports. Police agreed to use “reasonable and diligent efforts” to expunge certain information pertaining to Muslim communities in New Jersey that the Intelligence Division gathered. The department will also give plaintiffs a chance to propose revisions to a policy guide on compliance with guidelines that govern how the police may investigate political and religious activity.
Senior police officials will attend a public meeting with the plaintiffs, and the city will pay 10 businesses, mosques, student groups and individuals damages ranging from $1,250 to $22,500. “Today’s settlement marks a monumental victory for American-Muslim communities far and wide who have demanded fair and equal treatment by law enforcement,” said Farhana Khera of Muslim Advocates, which filed the suit and was later joined by the Center for Constitutional Rights and the law firm Gibbons P.C. “The resolution of this case affirms and enhances the NYPD’s commitment to conducting effective investigations to prevent crime and terrorism,” said police commissioner James P. O’Neill. The case was filed in 2012 on behalf of individuals, businesses, student associations and mosques in New Jersey who said New York detectives had violated the Constitution by surveilling at least 20 mosques, 14 restaurants, 11 retail stores, two grade schools and two Muslim student organizations and creating maps of Newark noting the location of mosques and the ethnic composition of Muslim neighborhoods.