February 3, 2012 – The Majlis ash-Shura (Islamic Leadership Council) of Metropolitan NY, and Desis Rising Up & Moving (DRUM), jointly held a rally of nearly 400 people at Foley Square to demand for police accountability. Over fifty organizations and interfaith groups endorsed the event locally and nationally and over twenty community leaders, affected families, city and state elected officials spoke at the rally. The NYPD has drawn ire in the wake of a series of scandals in regards to Muslim communities. The rally also highlighted that similar patterns and problems existed in the NYPD’s dealings with other communities, with several speakers citing the NYPD’s fatal shooting of an unarmed 18-year old, Ramarley Graham, in his home on Thursday.
The Majlis ash-Shura, a network of 36 different multi-ethnic mosques in the NYC area, and DRUM, a social justice community organizing groups of over 1,200 low-income South Asian immigrants, jointly called for the resignation of NYPD Commissioner Kelly and Spokesperson Paul Browne for repeated instances of lying on the public record, and demanded an oversight mechanism for the NYPD. Speaking at the rally were Councilmembers Charles Barron, Melissa Mark-Viverito, Ydanis Rodriguez, Daniel Dromm, Robert Jackson, as well as NY State Senator Bill Perkins, along with representatives from the interfaith, civil rights, and multi-ethnic communities.
The Rally started with an acknowledgement of the NYPD’s killing of Ramarley Graham on Thursday. Fahd Ahmed, Legal and Policy Director at DRUM, stated “we come here to voice the experiences of Muslim communities, but we do so with full understanding that the NYPD has brutalized other communities of color for decades. We stand together with the Graham family and community. An injustice to one of us is an injustice to all of us!”
A member of the Majlis ash-Shura, and representative of Muslim American Society, Abdel-Hafidd Djemil expressed the frustration of many communities and said that “it is time for real action to take place starting with the immediate resignation of Commissioner Kelly and NYPD spokesperson Paul Browne.”
The rally included those who had been targeted by the NYPD, through their surveillance programs or through their incidents of street brutality. Jazz Hayden and Shaka Shakur talked about their own experiences with the NYPD on the streets. Shahina Parveen, mother of Shahawar Matin Siraj, and a leader of DRUM, stated that “it is no surprise that the NYPD would be caught lying. They have consistently lied for years, from details about so-called terrorism cases, to their spying program, to their tactics in other communities. They used an paid informant to entrap my son, who has an IQ of 78, in a terrorism case that they manufactured can lie all they want, because there is no one and no way to hold them accountable. So who is policing the police?”
The President of the Majlis ash-Shura, Imam Talib Abdur-Rashid said that real changes were needed and that “Commissioner Kelly’s apology was necessary but not sufficient. The NYPD has yet to make amends to New Yorkers generally, and Muslim New Yorkers in particular, for lying about the surveillance of Muslims, and for lying about their role in the making and extensive showing of the film, The Third Jihad, to 1500 police officers.”
The protestors marched to One Police Plaza, and chanted “Ray Kelly has got to go!”
“This report is not a revelation at all, but a confirmation of what we have come to know of the policies and practices that define the New York City Police Department. As justice seeking individuals we must band together and demand a systematic and structural change of the NYPD, calling an end to all of it’s subversive and racist tactics. The rally at Foley Square is a strong step in a larger, more collaborative move towards bringing justice and accountability to the NYPD.” — Syed Hasan Naqvi, community organizer, Jafria Association of North America (JANA)