On Thursday, December 5, 2013, New York Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio appointed William Bratton to lead the New York Police Department. Bratton has a troubling record of supporting the types of practices that have caused so much concern among New Yorkers, and Mayor-elect de Blasio has made a campaign promise to reform the NYPD because of these very issues. While chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, Bratton promoted stop and frisk practices and defended a widespread data gathering and mapping project targeting innocent American Muslims in Los Angeles, which was scrapped only after public outcry. Bratton never denounced the program or acknowledged that it violated fundamental guarantees of religious freedom and equal treatment under the law. This is especially concerning, given that the NYPD currently operates a surveillance program targeting innocent American Muslims in New York and throughout the northeast that has been challenged as a violation of the Constitution.
Timeline of the LAPD Muslim Mapping Program
- October 30, 2007 – Michael P. Downing, Commanding Officer of the Counter-Terrorism / Criminal Intelligence Bureau of the LAPD, testifies before the US Senate’s Homeland and Government Affairs Committee, saying that the LAPD plans to institute a “community mapping” program targeting Los Angeles’ American Muslim population in an effort to “identify [Muslim] communities … which may be susceptible to violent ideologically based extremism.” Through the Program, he said, LAPD would “take a deeper look at [American Muslims'] history, demographics, language, culture, ethnic background, socio-economic status, and social interactions.”
- November 8, 2007 – Muslim Advocates, ACLU of Southern California, CAIR Southern California, and Islamic Shura Council write to Commander Downing, expressing their concerns about the Program as described in his testimony, and request a meeting to discuss the matter further.
- November 9, 2007 – Then-Chief of Police William Bratton forcefully criticizes these groups’ letter, saying, “…[T]he ACLU, the letter they sent, some of their comments (Thursday) were outrageous…I’m sorry, this is an effort to understand and know the communities we’re policing, to build trusting relationships.”
- November 15, 2007 – After a meeting attended by Bratton and Muslim community groups and civil rights organizations, Bratton announces at a press conference that the LAPD is abandoning the Muslim mapping program. “We put it out there, it was rejected, it’s dead on arrival…It will not be going forward.” Bratton never acknowledges that his program designed to “take a deeper look” at a particular religious community’s “history, demographics, language, culture, ethnic background, socio-economic status, and social interactions” violates fundamental American values of religious freedom and equal protection of the law.