Washington, DC – Seeking critical information on highly controversial programs that will target Denver’s schoolchildren and Muslim, immigrant, and refugee communities, Muslim Advocates yesterday filed several Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Colorado Open Records Act requests to compel government agencies to release information on a federal “Countering Violent Extremism” (CVE) grant currently operating in Denver. This particular grant, awarded to the Denver Police Department (DPD) by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, is incredibly broad; through the program DPD will work with Denver Public Schools and the Denver Office of Immigration and Refugee Affairs in order to subject children and other individuals deemed “at risk” of radicalization and violence to heightened scrutiny and monitoring.
Although government officials have repeatedly claimed that CVE programs focused on people of all faiths and races, these programs have repeatedly and disproportionately targeted American Muslim communities and communities of color. Shortly after taking office, President Trump publicly expressed his desire to focus CVE solely on Muslims, renewing concerns of civil rights groups about CVE. As civil rights groups have pointed out, CVE programs are stigmatizing and unfairly target and discriminate against Muslim groups, foster a culture of distrust between the community and law enforcement, and chill the fundamental rights of American Muslims by subjecting them to heightened surveillance.
“For years, CVE programs have consistently and almost exclusively targeted communities of color, and particularly American Muslim communities,” said Nimra Azmi, Staff Attorney for Muslim Advocates. ”The Denver CVE program is especially problematic because it unjustly targets Denver’s schoolchildren and unfairly stigmatizes immigrant and refugee communities.”
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Muslim Advocates is a national legal advocacy and educational organization that works on the frontlines of civil rights to guarantee freedom and justice for Americans of all faiths.