CNS – The LAPD will outline a community-outreach program it intends to adopt to replace a hastily abandoned plan to scope out potential terrorists through a community-mapping project targeting Muslims.
Deputy police Chief Michael Downing, who heads the LAPD’s counterterrorism bureau and testified about the mapping project before a U.S. Senate committee last month, has said he would “pull the mapping plan aside for now,” the Muslim Public Affairs Council said in a statement Nov. 14.
The plan had come under fire from civil rights advocates and local Muslim organizations, with opponents saying it was tantamount to racial profiling.
“It’s actually been scrapped; it hasn’t been shelved,” police Chief William Bratton said of the plan in an interview Nov. 15 on KTLA Channel 5.
“It couldn’t go forward without the cooperation of the Muslim community,” he said.
Bratton added that in the last 18 months, “we’ve been engaged with that community very heavily, developing relationships, communication and understanding, and this was in furtherance of that effort.
“But the Muslim community has made it quite clear over the past week … that they really felt that it was inappropriate for the American Muslim community, and in particular the community here in L.A.,” Bratton said.
“…So today we’ll attempt to get it all back on track and move forward.”
Downing and other LAPD officials planned to meet Nov. 15 with the representatives of several Muslim groups, then hold a joint news conference.
Scheduled to take part are Muslim Public Affairs Council Executive Director Salam Al-Marayati, MPAC Senior Adviser Maher Hathout, Council on American-Islamic Relations Executive Director Hussam Ayloush, and Islamic Shura Council of Southern California Executive Director Shakeel Syed.
The LAPD originally planned to partner with USC’s National Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events in building the mapping program.
Downing said in Congressional testimony Oct. 30 that the plan represented an attempt to “mitigate radicalization.”
He testified that police agencies around the world are dealing with radical Muslim groups isolated from the larger community, creating potential breeding grounds for terrorism. He added that gang violence and terrorism are similar in that signs of extremism are first seen at the local level in families, neighborhoods, schools and places of worship.
“It is our hope to identify communities, within the larger Muslim community, which may be susceptible to violent ideologically based extremism and then use a full-spectrum approach guided by an intelligence-led strategy,” Downing told the Senate committee.
The American Civil Liberties Union and several Muslim organizations reacted by describing the plan as “religious profiling that is just as unlawful, ill-advised and deeply offensive as racial profiling.”
“A mapping project that aims only to gather intelligence and identify ‘risk factors’ unfairly targets members of the Muslim community based on their religion and ethnicity, and also increase the inaccurate perception among the larger community that Muslims are doing something suspicious that merits investigation,” the groups wrote in a letter to the LAPD earlier this month.
Al-Marayati told The Times that he sent a letter to Downing on Nov. 12 telling him the plan should be withdrawn before the LAPD’s scheduled meeting Nov. 15 with Muslim American leaders.
Then Nov. 4, Al-Marayati said Downing called him to say the LAPD was putting the plan aside.
“Unfortunately, I think there’s been damage to the relationship in terms of trust” Al-Marayati told The Times. “But we feel we can repair that.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California praised the mapping plan’s withdrawal but promised continued vigilance.
“We are pleased to hear that the LAPD is withdrawing the mapping plan outlined before a Senate committee last month,” ACLU of Southern California Executive Director Ramona Ripston said.
“We will remain watchful of the department’s activity in this area to ensure that this program isn’t being repackaged and reintroduced in another form but with the same effect of profiling L.A.’s Muslim communities based solely on their religion.”