Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives saw an amendment reach the floor designed to stop all federal funds from flowing to any law enforcement entity that the Department of Justice has identified as engaging in any racial or religious profiling. The amendment, which was obviously intended to address the recent controversy about the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims, was supported by every Democrat in New York City, but ultimately failed to pass largely on Republican-led opposition.
“In September of last year, I asked the Department of Justice to investigate what we now know was a pattern of surveillance and infiltration by the New York Police Department against innocent American Muslims in the absence of a valid investigative reason,” the amendment’s sponsor, New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt, said, launching into a lengthy criticism of the NYPD but finally declaring the legislation had broader aims. “Profiling is wrong. Profiling on the basis of the race, ethnicity, and religion is a violation of core constitutional principles.”
Congressman Pete King, an outspoken defender of all things related to homeland security, took to the floor to blast the amendment.
Robert Jackson, a City Councilmember from Harlem and the only Muslim in the body, defended police commissioner Ray Kelly today against charges that he should resign.
“There is a press conference right now on the steps of City Hall calling for the resignation of Ray Kelly,” Mr. Jackson said. “I am not at the press conference.”
Critics are calling for Mr. Kelly to resign after it was revealed that the NYPD screened repeatedly a movie called “The Third Jihad” that depicts Muslims as violent extremists. At first, NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said that the video was screened just a few times and that Mr. Kelly did not participate in the making of the film. Both accounts turned out to be false.
Citing a litany of scandals, including ticket-fixing in the Bronx, evidence tampering and gun-running in Brooklyn, drug-planting in Staten Island and unlawful surveillance activity, a handful of city and state lawmakers called on Mayor Bloomberg to appoint an independent commission to investigate corruption within the New York Police Department.
“These revelations shock the conscience and demand action,” said Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Assemblyman who was joined by Council members Tish James and Jumaane Williams and state Senator Eric Adams at a morning press conference at 1 Police Plaza.