LAPD's Muslim mapping plan killed
The reversal comes after a week of protests from Muslim groups and civil libertarians, who equated the mapping with religious profiling. Others questioned whether it was possible for the LAPD to accurately map the city's far-flung Muslim community.
Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing said Wednesday that in the wake of the protests, officials would drop the mapping aspect of the plan but continue their efforts to reach out to the Muslim community. Downing and other police officials plan to outline the new strategy to Muslim American activists at a meeting today.
The decision met with praise from some activists, who said they would welcome greater involvement by the LAPD in their communities as long as mapping was off the table.
"Muslim Americans were very disturbed and concerned about the ramifications of the plan and having their privacy invaded," said Salam Al-Marayati, executive director of the Muslim Public Affairs Council. "Downing's statement that he's pulling the plan says the LAPD is very open to positive community engagement, input and participation. It's the first step to very healthy dialogue between Muslim Americans and the city of Los Angeles."
Tomorrow a meeting will be held with the LAPD and the leaders of various Muslim organizations and other civil liberties organizations in the Los Angeles area. Immediately following this meeting, a press conference will be held at which both Muslims and others will speak. Amongst those speaking will be Rabbi Haim Beliak (who will be appearing at an event in Whittier just three hours later-7:00 pm at THIS event- "An Interfaith Search for Justice and Peace in the Holy Land") and Kathy Masaoka of NCRR.
This past Saturday evening, CAIR held it's annual banquet at the Anaheim Hilton. The topic of the mapping was brought up that evening as all in the audience listened carefully what would be done to combat the proposed plan.I had the absolute honor of attending the evening's event with Kathy and other members of NCRR.
For many years, NCRR and other Japanese organizations have reached out to the Muslim community in Los Angeles, particularly following 9/11 when they formed the 9/11 Committee:
Eric L. Muller: Anti-terror efforts repeat WWII errors
By Eric L. Muller - Special To The BeePublished 12:00 am PST Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Law enforcement is looking ahead to the next domestic terrorist attack with a menu and a map.
This month, reports have surfaced about two controversial counterterrorism initiatives in California. In one, Congressional Quarterly's national security editor reported that the FBI had mined data from San Francisco grocery stores to look for spikes in sales of Middle Eastern food that, together with other data, might imply the presence of extremists. In the other, the Los Angeles Police Department is using census and other demographic data to map Muslim communities in order to pinpoint the neighborhoods of potential extremists.These might look like two new methods for identifying the enemy within, but they are nothing new, and they are not likely to do much but inflame the communities they affect
The first of them – I suppose we could call it "tahini tracking" – is just a disturbing replay of a 60-year-old mistake.
As I explain in my new book "American Inquisition: The Hunt for Japanese American Disloyalty in World War II," the federal government created a secret system of tribunals in 1943 to decide which of the tens of thousands of Japanese Americans behind barbed wire were "loyal" and which were "disloyal."
Things never got much more sophisticated for these tribunals than the food Japanese Americans ate. Religious and cultural affiliations with Japan scored negative loyalty points; "American" affiliations produced positive ones. Little League baseball coaches got positive points; judo teachers got negative points. Members of Japanese-named organizations got negative points; members of the Rotary Club got positive points. If you were a Buddhist, you got negative points; if you were a Christian, positive.
The system did not deduct points for sushi consumption, but it came awfully close. It equated the most basic components of Japanese religious and cultural identity with danger to national security. Applying this system, bureaucrats condemned more than one out of every four American citizens of Japanese ancestry as disloyal and potentially dangerous. The consequences were prolonged detention behind barbed wire, ineligibility for jobs in war production and, even as the war reached its end, continued exclusion from the West Coast.
The second method, neighborhood mapping, also bears a resemblance to some of the flawed methods of 60 years ago. In the months before Pearl Harbor, the FBI compiled its so-called "ABC lists" of thousands of Japanese aliens identified for arrest in the event of outbreak of war. Many of the men populating those lists were the business, religious and cultural leaders of the Japanese neighborhoods and communities of the West Coast's cities.
To be sure, the Los Angeles Police Department maintains that it is mapping Muslim neighborhoods to help their residents, not arrest them. The idea is to identify hot spots of discontent where extremism might grow, and then to increase social services to those neighborhoods in order to combat radicalization.
In principle, this strategy is sensible. But the residents of these neighborhoods have already seen six years of suspicion and scrutiny, and they are not likely to appreciate the principle. They're likely to see the mapping project as a prelude not to assistance but to repression.
And if some Americans are having a hard time telling bombs from baba ghanouj, who can blame them?