23 Apr, 2016
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | April 21, 2016 – The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) strongly encourages Arab residents of New York City and those impacted by the NYPD mass surveillance program to comment on the Proposed Modifications to the “Handschu Guidelines” for Investigations Involving Political Activity.
The Handschu Guidelines were implemented in 1985 to ensure that NYPD investigations involving political activity conform to the guarantees of the Constitution. The Handschu Guidelines prohibited the NYPD from targeting individuals for investigations based on their political and religious views. However, at the request of the NYPD, the U.S. District Court effectively dismantled the Handschu Guidelines in 2003, citing terrorism concerns.
The Handschu Guidelines have been revived by a class action lawsuit that was filed in 2013 to challenge the NYPD’s discriminatory surveillance. Settled in 2016, the Raza v. City of New York case revealed the NYPD’s unconstitutional mass surveillance of our community. The proposed settlement terms from the lawsuit include modifications to the Handschu guidelines that are intended to ensure that the NYPD’s investigations do not discriminate based or race, religion, or ethnicity.
The Court has requested the community to provide feedback regarding the settlement terms. Please send your comments by email with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org or by sending a letter with your name and address to Handschu Settlement, Clerk’s Office, US District Court, 500 Pearl Street, NY, NY 10007. The deadline to submit written comments on the proposed modifications is May 19, 2016.
A summary of ADC’s comments to the settlement terms are below:
1) NYPD’s commitment against investigations in which race, religion or ethnicity is a substantial or motivating factor is insufficient. The NYPD must be prohibited from using national origin as a substantial or motivating factor in investigations. There must be explicit guidelines on how this is to be implemented, including changes to procedures, training, and policies.
2) There needs to be a permanent committee with permanent civilian representation that provides independent oversight and has substantive powers to enforce the guidelines.
3) There needs to be stricter limitations on the NYPD’s use of confidential informants and undercover officers.