Amid growing nationwide controversy, Islamic leaders called on the Los Angeles Police Department on Tuesday to abandon plans by its counterterrorism bureau to create a map detailing Muslim communities across the city.
The plan, revealed earlier this week, has drawn accusations of racial profiling and concern that it could be used with other communities, even as LAPD officials have said their efforts are being misinterpreted.
"As an African-American, we know what it is to be profiled," said the Rev. Eric Lee, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Los Angeles.
"We have been fighting profiling for years. We don't see the LAPD mapping out skinheads. We don't see the LAPD mapping out neo-Nazis. We don't see the LAPD mapping out corporate criminals. This is an effort to profile people based on their race."
Najee Ali of Project Islamic Hope said his group has appealed to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to intervene.
"Chief (William) Bratton has a habit of shopping for the leaders who agree with him, rather than reaching out to the community," Ali said. "We want him to understand how offensive this is to all communities." . . .
While LAPD officials said the goal is to identify groups that might be having difficulty integrating into society, but Muslim groups and the ACLU have decried the move.
Leaders of several Islamic groups are scheduled to meet Thursday with Downing, head of the Counter Terrorism Division, to discuss the concerns it has raised among the 500,000 Muslims who live in Los Angeles.
Villaraigosa said he hopes is hopeful the Thursday meeting will lead to better understanding. And he said he has been briefed by Bratton and has received assurances that it is not intended to violate civil and human rights. . .
Representatives of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council said the LAPD program has drawn concern across the country.
"People are concerned on the purposes this will be used for," said Sharif Mourassay of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "This mapping project says that Muslims are more prone to violence than any other faith.
"It is ill-advised and deeply offensive as well as constitutionally questionable. All this does is generate fear and mistrust and looks like you are trying to gather intelligence based on religion and ethnicity." (MORE)