LA abandons scheme to map Muslim population zones
What other religion or ethnicity in the USA would tolerate, or be forced to tolerate, this kind of police crap?
I'm glad the LA Muslim community stood up and Just Said No, I'm glad the American Civil Liberties Union advocated for them, I'm glad the police scheme died at birth. (Or so the LAPD and the mayor say it's dead; these are LA cops, and a secret law unto themselves decade after decade.)
There's a huge institutional pressure, from the federal government, from state government, from city government, to make Muslim-Americans into compromised second-class citizens who must learn to accept a lower status of citizenship, with fewer rights and a lower threshold of expectations of justice, and a more hostile and adversarial relationship with law enforcement. Like Japanese-Americans and German-Americans during World War II, Muslim-Americans are being told, in hundreds of ways -- their experience as airport passengers, for example -- that they're not full American citizens. The rest of the American people are simultaneously being educated to want and to accept this change in the status of Muslim-Americans, and to assume and believe there's a good and necessary reason for it.
That's enough for now, here's the story. This police mapping plan blows dead rats. I'm glad it was stopped. If it was really stopped.
The New York Times
Friday 16 November 2007
Los Angeles Police Scrap
Proposal to Map Muslim Areas
by Neil MacFarquhar
The Los Angeles Police Department is scrapping its controversial plan to create a map detailing the Muslim communities in the sprawling metropolitan area, bowing to the outcry among Muslims and others that the project was a thinly disguised form of racial profiling.
“We put it out there, it was rejected, it’s dead on arrival,” the police chief, William J. Bratton, said at a news conference after a meeting with Muslim residents and civil rights organizations who had criticized the plan. “It will not be going forward.”
Various advocates for Muslims, as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, expressed elation that the plan, first proposed as a means of tracking possible radicalization, had been shelved.
“When they talk about mapping in law enforcement, they talk about mapping gang areas, mapping high-crime areas,” said Salam Al-Marayati, the executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, based in Los Angeles, which had initially considered acting as the Police Department’s partner in the plan.
“Extending mapping of a criminal nature to a mainstream community, that was offensive to Muslim Americans, they felt like they were all being treated as suspects,” Mr. Marayati said.
Chief Bratton expressed regret that the plan might have added to any suspicions about the police harbored by Muslims.
Michael P. Downing, a deputy Los Angeles police chief who leads the counterterrorism bureau, said after the meeting that he had been trying to mirror a plan that he saw in Britain that had been welcomed by Muslims there. The Los Angeles meeting, scheduled to address the initial outcry, was used to emphasize the importance of developing more extensive interaction between the Police Department and Muslim residents, the police said.
Muslim activists expressed some concern that Mr. Downing still seemed convinced that the potential for radicalization among Muslims in the United States remained strong.
The mapping proposal first came to light on October 30 when Mr. Downing testified before a Senate committee investigating the potential for radicalization among American Muslims.
Mr. Downing said the Police Department wanted to work with a Muslim partner and an academic institution to determine the geographic distribution of Muslims and “look at their history, demographics, language, culture, ethnic breakdown, socioeconomic status and social interactions.”
The problem that some Muslims have integrating in Europe has been a source of radicalization, he said in a later interview, and the point would be to try to avoid that here.
But Muslim groups immediately objected — not least on the ground that unlike in much of Europe, Muslims did not live in their own separate neighborhoods in the United States. In addition, there have been virtually no cases of the kind seen in Europe, they said, where a native son flies off to Pakistan or Afghanistan for training and then returns to create a homegrown terrorist cell that carries out deadly attacks.
Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa of Los Angeles said in a statement that he agreed the mapping plan should not proceed.
“While I believe the department’s efforts to reach out to the Muslim communities were well intentioned, the mapping proposal has created a level of fear and apprehension that made it counterproductive,” Mr. Villaraigosa said.
The greater Los Angeles area, including Riverside and Orange Counties, is home to an estimated 500,000 Muslims, making it the second-largest concentration in the country after New York City.
Michael Parrish contributed reporting.