This week in politics

POLITICAL ARENA

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Unconstitutional creep?

State Sen. Gustavo Rivera and six of his colleagues sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman requesting that he investigate the New York City Police Department’s surveillance tactics in the city’s Muslim communities. The request is based on a report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo of 

The Associated Press titled “With CIA help, NYPD moves covertly in Muslim areas.”

According to the report, the NYPD conducted surveillance operations of 250 mosques, 12 Islamic schools, 31 Muslim student organizations, 10 non-profit organizations, 138 “persons of interest” and 256 “ethnic hotspots” in 2006.

The senators are concerned the NYPD’s tactics are illegal and unconstitutional.

“Any church, synagogue, or temple may be subjected to surveillance by the New York Police Department. There need not be any evidence of criminality or wrongdoing nor any jurisdictional limit. This dangerous precedent undermines one of the most basic tenets of our nation, religious liberty,” reads the letter.

The senators also compare what’s happening to Muslim communities in New York to how the country reacted to the attacks in Pearl Harbor when 120,000 Japanese Americans were detained during World War II.

 

Benjamin for abstinence

Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin stopped by The Press offices on Oct. 6 to talk about his pro-abstinence organization NYC Parents Choice Coalition. The coalition’s goal is to get abstinence included in the mandatory sex-ed classes that will begin for city middle schoolers in January. Mr. Benjamin said he is in favor of the sex-ed mandate, but wants an abstinence-centered option included in the curriculum.

Parents and their children can opt out of the program for religious reasons or if they do not want their children to learn about birth control methods, but Mr. Benjamin thinks parents should be allowed to opt into abstinence.

“The focus is more on what are the consequences of having sex as a teenager,” he said.

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