NEW YORK — At Columbia University and elsewhere, the fear that the New York Police Department might secretly be infiltrating Muslim student’s lives has spread beyond them to others who find the reported tactics “disgusting,” as one teenager put it.
The NYPD surveillance of Muslims on a dozen college campuses in the Northeast is a surprising and disappointing violation, students said Saturday in reaction to Associated Press reports that revealed the intelligence-gathering at Columbia and elsewhere.
Documents obtained by the AP show that the NYPD used undercover officers and informants to infiltrate Muslim student groups. An officer even went whitewater rafting with students and reported on how many times they prayed and what they discussed. Police also trawled college websites and blogs, compiling daily reports on the activities of Muslim students and academics.
In the past week, Muslims and non-Muslims alike held a town hall meeting on the Manhattan campus of the Ivy League college to discuss the police surveillance. Concerned members of many school groups attended.
On Friday, some of their counterparts at New York University choked up as they gathered to voice their outrage at the notion that even students’ religious habits were being tracked by the NYPD.