Nelson Mandela: A life in pictures
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — The state attorney general assured a group of Muslim leaders Wednesday that a New York City police unit that conducted surveillance of Muslim businesses, religious leaders and student groups was no longer operating in New Jersey.
Jeffrey Chiesa made the remarks during the first meeting of an outreach committee he formed to repair relations between law enforcement and Muslims in the wake of the revelations about the New York Police Department’s surveillance tactics.
Paul Loriquet, a spokesman for the attorney general, confirmed that Chiesa said during the closed door meeting that the NYPD’s Demographics Unit was no longer working in New Jersey. Loriquet added that Chiesa felt the meeting was productive and that the attorney general “wanted to make sure that all the people of New Jersey’s rights are protected and respected.”
Chiesa told the group Wednesday that he stood by his findings — announced in May following a three-month review — that the NYPD had not violated any New Jersey laws in conducting the surveillance.
The NYPD had operated secretly in New Jersey neighborhoods where Muslims lived and worked, spied on Muslim neighborhoods and organizations, infiltrated Muslim student groups and videotaped mosque-goers. The activities, revealed in a series by The Associated Press, angered many Muslims and New Jersey officials and resulted in a federal lawsuit against the NYPD.
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly, who has vigorously defended the department’s spying on Muslims as vital to the city’s safety, said Wednesday he wasn’t aware of the New Jersey meeting. An NYPD spokesman, Paul Browne, said the department is “continuing and will continue to follow leads wherever they take us, including out-of-state.”
Muslim leaders who attended Wednesday’s meeting said it was a good first step.
“The discussion I think is laying a foundation for us to move forward, an opportunity for us to build, or rebuild, more communication, more cooperation, and hopefully improving the trust between the Muslim community and law enforcement agencies,” said Imam Wahy-ud Deen Shareef of Masjid Waarith ud Deen in Irvington, who is a plaintiff in the federal suit against the NYPD.
The outreach committee included Muslim leaders from diverse backgrounds and different parts of the state and top New Jersey law enforcement officials, including the head of the state police and New Jersey’s director of Homeland Security. They discussed ways to increase recruitment of Muslims by law enforcement agencies and the possibility of having Muslim leaders conduct sensitivity training for New Jersey law enforcement officials.
Chiesa told the group that relations between the NYPD and New Jersey law enforcement had improved in recent months, largely due to monthly meetings and increased transparency between the agencies.
In May, he told a group that included many of the same leaders at Wednesday’s meeting that the NYPD had assured New Jersey officials that they only operated in the state while following legitimate leads.
But in a recent deposition as part of a longstanding federal civil rights case, NYPD department officials testified that that in more than six years of spying on Muslim neighborhoods, eavesdropping on conversations and cataloguing mosques, the Demographics Unit had never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation. NYPD Intelligence Division documents prepared in 2006 by Deputy Inspector Steve D’Ulisse detailed the role of the Demographics Unit. The documents were leaked to the AP after Browne denied the unit ever existed.
Besides the Demographics Unit, the NYPD also operated a secret safe house in New Jersey as a base of operations to spy on Muslims without telling local and federal authorities. Federal authorities raided the apartment in 2009, embarrassing the NYPD.
Associated Press Writers Adam Goldman in Washington and Colleen Long in New York contributed to this report.
Nelson Mandela and his wife Winnie in this undated file picture.
Mandela is accompanied by his former wife Winnie, moments after his release from prison February 11, 1990 after serving 27 years in jail. (Reuters)
In this February, 1990 photo, shortly after his release from 27 years in prison, Nelson Mandela, gives the black power salute to the 120,000 supporters packing Soccer City stadium in Soweto, near Johannesburg. (AP Photo)
Nelson Mandela showed his passport in February 19, 1990, shortly after his release from prison. The South African government authorized an application for himself and his wife Winnie - (Juda Ngwenya / Reuters)
In this July 27, 1991 photo, Cuban President Fidel Castro, and Nelson Mandela gesture during the celebration of the "Day of the Revolution" in Matanzas, Cuba. (AP Photo)
In this July 4, 1993 photo, President Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela listen during Fourth of July ceremonies in Philadelphia during which Clinton presented the Philadelphia Liberty Medal to the African National Congress president and South African President F.W. de Klerk. (AP Photo/Greg Gibson)
President of the African National Congress Nelson Mandela acknowledges cheers from the crowd as he prepares to unveil the ANC's official election platform in 1994. (AP Photo/David Brauchli)
African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela greeted residents of Mmabatho in March 1994, during a visit after the nominal homeland came under South African control following the ousting of the former President Lucas Mangope. (Reuters/Howard Burditt)
South African President Nelson Mandela smiles with actor Sidney Poitier at a press conference in Cape Town in 1996. Poitier played Mandela in the film "One Man, One Vote" (AP Photo / Sasa Kralj)
South African President Nelson Mandela waves to crowds as he sits next to Queen Elizabeth II in a an open carriage on the way to Buckingham Palace.(AP/Louisa Buller)
Chairman of the Constitutional Assembly Cyril Ramaphosa, left, holds up a copy of the country's constitution which was signed by President Nelson Mandela, in December 1996. (AP Photo / Adil Bradlow / POOL)
Nelson Mandela at a news conference in Johannesburg in February 2000. (AP Photo / Denis Farrell)
South African rugby captain Francois Pienaar, right, received the Rugby World Cup trophy from President Nelson Mandela also wearing a South African rugby shirt, after South Africa defeated New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup , in 1995. (AP Photo / Ross Setford)