NEW YORK – At a press briefing today, the New York Police Department pushed back against the suggestion that they’d broken the law by monitoring Muslims in mosques, cafes, shops and schools in New York City and beyond, the New York Daily News reported.
Criticism has been growing against the NYPD for targeting anti-terrorism surveillance programs at Muslims living in the United States, CNN reported. Leaked reports obtained by the Associated Press have described how New York police spied on Muslim-owned business and mosques in Newark, NJ, and monitored Muslim student associations at colleges across the Northeast.
More from GlobalPost: NYPD monitored Muslim college students across the Northeastern US
“There's been a suggestion that what we are doing doesn't comport with legal requirements, and that's not the case,” Chief Spokesman Paul Browne said, according to the New York Daily News. “Everything we're doing is done constitutionally.”
“There is no constitutional prohibition against a police department collecting information,” Peter Farrell, senior counsel of the city’s Law Department, told reporters, according to the New York Daily News. “What's unconstitutional is if they then use that information to chill someone’s First Amendments rights or to impose harm on them.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker have both called for an investigation into the NYPD’s program in Newark, CNN reported.
"I strongly believe that we must be vigilant in protecting our citizens from crime and terrorism,” Mayor Cory Booker said Wednesday, according to CNN, “but to put large segments of a religious community under surveillance with no legitimate cause or provocation clearly crosses a line.”
Booker and his police director have claimed that the NYPD misled them by not revealing the true nature of their work when they notified Newark officials that they would be visiting the city as part of a terrorism investigation, the AP reported.
"If anyone in my police department had known this was a blanket investigation of individuals based on nothing but their religion, that strikes at the core of our beliefs and my beliefs very personally, and it would have merited a far sterner response," Booker said, according to the AP.