Controversial NYPD Muslim spy unit disbanded

The NYPD Unit that’s been monitoring Muslims in New York City has been in place for a decade.

The unit blasted by Mayor Bill de Blasio, has always been surrounded by controversy.

But now the NYPD is getting rid of it.

The NYPD’s Demographics Unit — or Zone Assessment Unit — was developed with the CIA’s help after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The unit cataloged information on Muslim communities for years, and has been the target of many civil lawsuits.

Zead Ramadan, a board member for the Council on American Islamic Relations was at a meeting with NYPD Commissioner, Bill Bratton last week.

He says he’s pleased about the change he’s been fighting for.

“Profiling an entire community through a surveillance program was not going to be productive and I think they realized that,” says Zead Ramadan, Board Member for the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Now, first reported by the New York Times, the NYPD is getting rid of its spying unit that conducted surviellence of Muslims in their own communities.

Outside the 96th street Mosque in the city, Muslims say they’re about peace.

“We have a stigma that Muslims are terrorists,” says Edwin Rios, who practices Islam.

The NYPD released a statement that reads, “Understanding certain demographics can be a useful factor when assessing information regarding potential threats coming to the attention of the New York City Police Department. It has been determined that much of the same information previously gathered by the unit may be obtained through direct outreach by the NYPD to the communities concerned.”

Ramadan says while this is a step in the right direction to kick the program to the cub it’s done a lot of harm already.

“If there’s a Christian or a Jew or anyone else who commits a crime should all of them pay for the crime?” says Ramadan.

“This reform is a critical step forward in easing tensions between the police and the communities they serve – so that the cops and citizens can help one another and go after the real bad guys,” says New York City Mayor, Bill de Blasio.