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Police training film targets Muslims, activists demand NYPD resignations

By Saeed Shabazz -Staff Writer- | Last updated: Feb 3, 2012 - 4:13:36 PM

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NEW YORK (FinalCall.com) - The latest instance of targeting by the New York City Police Department against the Muslim community brought activists to the steps of City Hall, demanding the resignation of Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelley and his public relations director.

According to the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition and the New York Times, a 72-minute film “The Third Jihad,” was first used by the NYPD in 2010 as a training film for police recruits, sergeants and lieutenants. A White officer contacted the Village Voice newspaper in late 2010 saying he was offended by the film’s content.

The Council on American Islamic Relations has also reported that Muslim recruits inside the NYPD reported that the film’s content was offensive. The Village Voice said efforts to learn more about the film were stonewalled by Deputy Commissioner for Public Information Joe Browne.

“Since there were lies about everything surrounding the issue of this film; we cannot believe that only 1,500 officers viewed it,” said Noel Leader of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. “We have no way of knowing how widespread this is, and rest assured it has not just been viewed by only the NYPD,” Mr. Leader told The Final Call.

Excerpts from the film, which may be found online, show footage of carnage caused by bombings, Muslim crowds being exhorted to commit violence, burning of the American flag, church burnings and a so-called Muslim flag flying over the White House.

“Calling for resignations does not change the mindset of the affected police officers,” De Lacy Davis, a retired police sergeant and president of Black Cops against Police Brutality, told The Final Call. Only a widespread educational program will change the paradigm of mistrust of Muslims by officers in the ranks, he said.

Activists at the City Hall press conference Jan. 26. demanded that police officers who viewed the film be retrained. Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a statement saying there was no need for retraining, no need for anyone to resign and that the NYPD used “terrible judgment” in showing the film.

The commissioner sets the tone for the department, and in this case Mr. Kelley is sending the message that Muslims are the enemy, Mr. Leader said. “A very dangerous message,” he added. Mr. Kelley released a statement Jan. 25 saying he “regretted” giving an interview for the film.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, it took a year after filing a Freedom of Information petition to get information from the NYPD covering use of the film. The Times, in a Jan. 23 story, said none of the documents turned over made clear which police officials approved the showing of the film and NYPD attorneys blacked out critical information from internal memos.

Mr. Browne reportedly said a sergeant was responsible and had been “reprimanded.”

“No sergeant has the power to make that type of decision,” argued Mr. Leader, who said he worked as a training sergeant for the NYPD before his retirement. The Times said the department continues its silence on who made the decision to show the film and has not divulged “how materials are chosen for training, and who vettes them.”

In the meantime, there is a continuing investigation into the makers and distributors of the film. According to Salon.com, a nonprofit organization linked to U.S. and Israeli right-wing groups distributed the film; but there are still questions on who actually funded the making of “The Third Jihad.”

The Associated Press Jan. 26 published a statement from the N.Y.-based Clarion Fund responsible for producing the film. “Those that have blasted the film are attempting to stifle an important debate about the internal status of the Muslim community in America, and whether politicized Islam and indoctrination pose tangible security threats,” said the statement.

Salon.com said the Clarion Fund mailed out millions of DVDs of a movie, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West,” to swing state voters during the 2008 presidential election.

Imam Talib Rashid of the Islamic Leadership of Metropolitan New York, in a statement, said the coalition will continue asking for resignations or dismissals of NYPD officials involved in showing the film. He also wants an investigation by the N.Y. City Council and the federal and state attorneys general.

According to Cyrus McGoldrick, director of the civil rights office of NY-CAIR, a march and protest is planned for Feb. 3 after jumu’ah (congregational) prayer services starting at 3:30 p.m. He told The Final Call the march will start at Foley Square and end at One Police Plaza, the NYPD’s main headquarters.

Related news:

'Fear, Inc.' driving anti-Islam views in U.S. (FCN, 09-30-2011)

Web Video - Coalition of Muslimsspeak out against bigotry and intolerance (NOI.org, 09-02-2010)

Anti-mosque groups push campaign in New York  (FCN, 09-06-2010)

Rejecting bigotry and targeting of Muslims  (FCN, 09-06-2010)

Is Islam a Religion of Violence?  (FCN Webcast, Min.Farrakhan, Press Conf. 05-25-2005)

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