Friday, November 9, 2007

WTH?

L.A. officials defend mapping of Muslim areas

Mayor Villaraigosa says the LAPD has 'good intentions' in gathering intelligence. Chief Bratton says the effort should be seen as 'community engagement.'
Los Angeles Times
City officials this morning defended the LAPD's decision to identify Muslim enclaves across the city, saying that instead of "mapping," Angelenos should see the program as "community engagement."

Civil rights groups have harshly criticized the new initiative as racial profiling that unfairly targets Muslims. The American Civil Liberties Union along with other community groups sent a letter to the LAPD this week saying the prospect of such a measure raised "grave concerns."

At a press conference about police recruitment in Elysian Park, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Police Chief William Bratton and Councilman Jack Weiss said they stood behind Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing's decision to gather extensive intelligence about local Muslim communities.

"Chief Downing has good intentions here," said Villaraigosa, who added that he had only learned of the new program through newspaper articles and at a short briefing.

The Police Department respects "the civil and human rights of Muslims in Los Angeles," Villaraigosa said.

The mapping program would be headed by Downing, who is in charge of the LAPD's anti-terrorism bureau.

"We want to map the locations of these closed, vulnerable communities, and in partnership with these communities . . . help [weave] these enclaves into the fabric of the larger society," Downing said in testimony about the program before Congress on Oct. 30.

At the hearing, Downing said his intentions were to "mitigate radicalization," and that law enforcement agencies everywhere faced "a vicious, amorphous and unfamiliar adversary on our land."

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