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Civil Rights Advocates: NYC Still Allowing Surveillance Of Muslims

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Civil rights advocates on Tuesday accused New York City authorities of continuing to support discriminatory surveillance of Muslim communities by police.

The advocates' complaints on Tuesday were based a brief filed by the city opposing a pending of appeal of federal judge's decision saying the practice is a lawful way to detect terror threats.

The decision in February came in response to a lawsuit accusing the NYPD of illegally spying on ordinary people at mosques, restaurants and schools in New Jersey based on religion and race after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

One advocate said the city's support of the ruling show the new administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio does not care about protecting Americans' basic right to pray.''

A statement from the city Law Department said the brief was being misinterpreted.

In April, the NYPD announced that it had disbanded the Demographics Unit -- the surveillance program that was responsible for tracking the daily lives of Muslims.

Following a review, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton found that the same information collected by the unit could be better collected through direct contact with community groups, officials said.

The Demographics Unit was created 18 months after the 9/11 attacks. The program, conceived with the help of a CIA agent working with the NYPD, assembled databases on where Muslims lived, shopped, worked and prayed.

Plainclothes officers infiltrated Muslim student groups, put informants in mosques, monitored sermons and cataloged Muslims in New York who adopted new, Americanized surnames.

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