A second federal judge has approved a settlement to resolve a lawsuit claiming New York police had unfairly targeted Muslims for surveillance, clearing the last hurdle for officials to implement protections — including the use of a civilian monitor to flag overzealous and discriminatory policing, advocates said.
U.S. District Court Judge Pamela Chen of the Eastern District of New York on Monday approved the settlement in the case over which she presided, Raza v. City of New York, about a week after U.S. District Court Judge Charles S. Haight Jr. of the Southern District of New York gave a nod to terms of the settlement to resolve his case, Handschu v. Special Services Division, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.
“We and our clients are very pleased that the courts have approved this groundbreaking settlement,” said the attorneys for the Raza case plaintiffs in a statement. “This agreement sends a critical message to the federal government and police forces around the country that law enforcement can and must do its job without resorting to discrimination.”
New York City officials could not be reached for comment.
The advocates said the settlement spells out “when and how investigations are conducted,” and designates an independent civilian representative inside the police department to monitor and prevent abuses of power.
The representative will be empowered to report violations of agreed-upon protections against unwarranted surveillance directly to the federal court.
Haight last year had refused to sign off on a settlement first reached in October in the lawsuit, which alleged that mosques were targeted for spying based on improper religious and political profiling. The inclusion of stronger civilian monitor’s powers in a new settlement reached on March 6 satisfied the jurist.