Mayor Bloomberg is right now at his annual interfaith prayer breakfast at the New York Public Library, an event which achieved more notice than usual when fifteen Muslim clerics and community leaders said they are boycotting the event to protest to protest the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Muslims.
During his weekly radio show, Mayor Bloomberg brushed off the criticism.
“Not all of the those leaders were invited. Some of them just weren’t on the list,” he said. “Look, I hope everybody comes. The PD is doing the best job of any police department in the country. We don’t target any ethnic groups.”
The Associated Press series on the surveillance were a sensation last summer, detailing how the NYPD was teaming up with the CIA to infiltrate Muslim communities in New York. Today, Mayor Bloomberg pushed back on the articles, and said there was no racial profiling in the city, comparing the surveillance to normal police work.
“We go where potential threats are reported to be. It is like saying you are going after people that are my height and with brown hair. If the perp is described that way in the neighborhood you look at everybody in the neighborhood that’s got brown hair and my height, you stop ‘em. We have great race relations here. The communities, whether they are Muslim or Jewish or Christian or Hindu or Buddhist or whatever all contribute to this city. We don’t target any one of ‘em. We don’t target any neighborhood. But when we have reports of crime, reports of a threat, the police department goes and that’s what they should do and that is going to keep everybody safe, keep people safe of all religions.”
The distinction between profiling and police can be a thin one, but it is generally thought that the difference between them is that profiling considers everyone of a ethnic background or neighborhood to be a threat, while police work follows up on leads to target specific individuals.
It remains to be seen how the breakfast will go, but Mayor Bloomberg seemed ready.
“I think we will have a nice breakfast,” he told host John Gambling. “Every year it’s a breakfast that pulls people together.”
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