It’s no longer a secret that Muslims anywhere near New York City have been extensively tracked and cataloged by the NYPD, whether or not they pose a threat to security. Today, the New York Times reports that Occupy Wall Street protesters, waiting in the wings for a planned spring resurgence, are being treated in much the same way, at least according to their lawyers. “Not only are the police disrupting people’s rights to free expression,” said an attorney for a group of demonstrators who were arrested — but not prosecuted — while buying coffee on a planned “day of action” last year. “They are taking preemptive steps by arresting people who might be just thinking about exercising their rights.”
“I felt like I had been arrested for a thought crime,” said 20-year-old Kira Moyer-Sims, who was charged with obstructing governmental administration and is now planning to sue the city, along with two others.
Separate demonstrators report officers showing up to private meetings to intimidate them. The Times points to expanded surveillance powers granted to the police department in 2003, with terror prevention in mind, but the director of the ACLU says now, “The NYPD surveillance does not appear to be limited to unlawful activity.”
And imagine being a person of color:
Mark Adams, a 32-year-old engineer from Virginia, said he was arrested in November at an Occupy Wall Street protest in Midtown and was questioned by a police detective and an agent from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who asked about his involvement with Occupy Wall Street, requested his e-mail address and inquired whether he had ever been to Yemen or met anyone connected to Al Qaeda.
Adams is a U.S. citizen, but was born in Pakistan, so he’s a potential violator of the worst offense of all: protesting while Muslim.