The NYPD will create new training materials and policies to help settle a lawsuit that claimed it unfairly targeted Muslim individuals, mosques and businesses for surveillance in New Jersey.
The settlement, announced Thursday, involved a lengthy federal lawsuit — Hassan v. City of New York — filed on behalf of American Muslims in New Jersey who charged the NYPD launched a campaign of surveillance after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that included spying on grade schools, restaurants and other sites.
“We are proud that we stood up to the most powerful police force in the country and against the suspicion and ignorance that guided their discriminatory practices,” lead plaintiff Farhaj Hassan, a U.S. Army reservist who lives in New Jersey, said in a statement.
In the settlement, the NYPD did not admit it violated the law or engaged in misconduct. But it did agree to “not conduct investigations in which race, religion or ethnicity is a substantial or motivating factor,” according to an NYPD statement.
The plaintiffs will receive $75,000 in damages from the city as well as $950,000 to reimburse its lawyers for legal fees.
“The resolution of this case affirms and enhances the NYPD’s commitment to conducting effective investigations to prevent crime and terrorism,” said NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill.
Filed in federal court in New Jersey in 2012, the lawsuit was the first to challenge the NYPD’s practice of surveillance in the Muslim community.
“Today’s settlement marks a monumental victory for American Muslim communities far and wide who have demanded fair and equal treatment by law enforcement,” Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said in a statement. “The message to police departments from coast to coast is loud and clear: you cannot treat someone as a suspect based on their faith.”