Civil Rights Organizations Call for Vigilance and Unequivocal Rejection of CVE
(LOS ANGELES, CA - 8/17/2018) – The Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA) today welcomed the decision by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office to turn down a $425,000 Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) federal grant.
The CVE program began in 2015 under the Obama administration with pilot programs in Boston, Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and was met with criticism by civil rights advocates for its dangerous and ill-advised focus on American Muslim adults, children and youths.
The Trump administration doubled down on this focus, both through rhetoric and action, by trying to rename the program to “Countering Radical Islamic Extremism.” Under the Trump administration, CVE grants almost exclusively focus on American Muslim adults, children and youths, with most grants having been awarded to local law enforcement agencies, or groups who commit to coordinating with law enforcement.
“We are relieved that the City of Los Angeles – one of America’s most diverse and progressive cities – will not partner with the Trump administration on an Islamaphobic program that unfairly targets American Muslims,” said CAIR-LA Executive Director Hussam Ayloush.
SEE: LA mayor turns down $425K in federal funding to counter violent extremism after opposition from civil rights groups stalls process
For nearly two years, CAIR-LA and its civil rights allies - American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Los Angeles, MPower Change and Vigilant Love, among others - fought to keep CVE out of Los Angeles, meeting with city officials and educating the public on the importance of saying “No to CVE.”
In July, amid protests from more than 50 Angelinos, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday delayed a vote on whether to accept the CVE funding. The in-person protest was the culmination of a campaign that included asking community members to call and email the mayor’s office and their councilmembers to oppose the City accepting the funds.
“By standing up and speaking out, our community has shown Los Angeles and the rest of the nation the power of solidarity in the face of injustice,” said CAIR-LA Policy Manager Asmaa Ahmed.
A spokesman for the mayor’s office claimed the City declined the funding due to practicality. Ayloush said the City should reject CVE on its premise, not on an implementation timeline.
“We will continue to call on the Mayor and all public agencies and officials to reject and denounce CVE due to its unwarranted targeting of Muslims and other Black and Brown communities,” he said. “How could the Mayor or the City of Los Angeles justify collaborating with the Trump administration on such an Islamophobic program when Trump’s policies have clearly targeted Muslims, immigrants, minorities, and other vulnerable communities?”
During the July council meeting, Councilman Mike Bonin argued the city should not participate in the CVE program because the federal government was “very clearly determined to racially profile.
“If you lay down with dogs, you’re going to get fleas,” Bonin said. “And this is a flea-ridden program nationwide.”
SEE: Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): A Resource Page
Ayloush blasted the CVE program as part of the Trump administration’s Islamophobic agenda to unjustly target and surveil Muslim Americans rather than as a public health program, as touted by the mayor’s office.
“It is a shame that the federal government used the lure of federal funding for necessary social services program to advance its CVE program targeting Muslims,” he said. “All other communities receive similar funding, but through social services departments, not counter terrorism ones.”
SEE: In L.A., federal grant to combat extremism stirs up concerns about targeting Muslims
Ayloush credited the efforts of the civil rights coalition groups and praised the nearly 500,000 members of the American Muslim community in the Greater Los Angeles area for expressing its outrage.
“American Muslims are not asking for special treatment,” Ayloush said. “We refuse to be treated as second class citizens in our country and cities. We just want respect and dignity. Is it too much to ask?”
CAIR-LA is Southern California’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR-LA Communications Manager Eugene W. Fields, 714-776-1847 or firstname.lastname@example.org