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Cynthia Young - COINTELPRO and the Roots of the NYPD's War on Muslims

Monday, September 21, 2015 12:00 PM
Humanities 4th Floor Common area

In 2012, the Associated Press published a series of articles on the New York City Police Department's surveillance of Muslim communities. The sordid tale of paid and coerced informants, and the infiltrating of college campuses, cafes and even mosques stirred public outrage, spawned Congressional hearings and earned the reporters involved a Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism. Contrary to popular belief, however, the targets were new but the tactics were not. The indiscriminate spying on communities of color did not emerge in the wake of the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, as many believed; rather they originated in the NYPD's war on black radicals and "ghetto" communities in the 1960s and 1970s. This paper draws parallels between the NYPD's war on black radicals and Muslims, showing how police violence targets racialized communities with a kind of simultaneous precision and flexibility that reveals the dangerously racist and durable nature of U.S. state violence.

Sponsored by the American Studies Research Cluster in Global Inequalities and Solidarities.

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