Lawyers seek to prevent NYPD from destroying Muslim surveillance records

Civil liberties lawyers will seek to impose a restraining order on the NYPD in federal court Monday to stop the destruction of any evidence related to the alleged surveillance of Muslim communities since the September 11 attacks.

They also hope to initiate an investigation into the allegations, made by the Associated Press in a recent series of reports, which the NYPD have rejected as false.

Attorneys overseeing the so-called Handschu agreement — a 40-year case that has continuously shaped the extent to which police can conduct surveillance and can maintain records of surveillance — will go before Judge Charles Haight, who has long presided over the Handschu case.

According to attorney Jethro Eisenstein, the AP’s claims that the NYPD kept records of the activities of law-abiding Muslims in restaurants, mosques and other places indicated a violation of the existing Handschu guidelines.

“They very specifically prohibit the retention of information that’s been gleaned from that kind of visit to public places, unless it involves either unlawful activity or potential terrorist activities,” he said. He added the AP’s claims that the NYPD was “shredding” evidence, added urgency to the need for a restraining order.

WNYC News Blog, 3 October 2011