The New York Police Department allegedly spied on Muslim students at several universities in the Northeast, including New Jersey’s Rutgers University, without warrants, legal jurisdiction or probable cause, according to news reports.
Now, officials with the New Jersey and Connecticut chapters on the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are calling on Yale and Rutgers universities to “take concrete steps to protect the constitutional rights” of their students.
“University officials may be the last line of defense for Muslim students whose rights were apparently violated by the clearly unconstitutional — and possibly illegal — tactics used by the NYPD,” stated CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper. “The NYPD continues to act as if it is somehow above the law that governs all other individuals and institutions.”
The AP originally reported that detectives “trawled daily through student websites run by Muslim student groups at Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Rutgers and 13 other colleges in the Northeast.”
Besides tracking the sites, police officials also sent an undercover agent on a whitewater rafting trip, where he “recorded students’ names and noted in police intelligence files how many times they prayed,” the AP reports. The rafting trip consisted of 18 Muslim students from the City College of New York.
At the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers University, “NYPD officers had a safe house in an apartment not far from campus,” the AP reports. Apparently, the elaborate undercover operation was foiled when the building superintendent found the safe house and called the police.
Police officials have said that only those students suspected of wrongdoing were tracked, and that their efforts resulted in multiple arrests of members of Muslim student associations (coined MSAs).
Officials with CAIR say the NYPD’s scope spread even further.
“Reports indicate that the NYPD even spied on Muslim leaders who figured prominently in community outreach efforts, and infiltrated Muslim student groups not suspected of committing any crime,” reads a CAIR press release.