Coalition Applauds SF Board of Supervisors for Resolution Endorsing End to Government Profiling of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim & South Asian Communities
In Unanimous Vote, Supervisors Endorse Human Rights Commission Report to End Bias Practices of Surveillance & Profiling
(SAN FRANCISCO, CA, 04/07/11) The Coalition for a Safe San Francisco (CSSF) applauds the Board of Supervisors of the City and County of San Francisco for endorsing a historic Human Right’s Commission (HRC) report on racial and religious profiling of Bay Area Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities.
“We are pleased that the Board of Supervisors shares our concerns about the erosion of civil rights and endorses the Human Rights Commission’s recommendations to end profiling and the surveillance, monitoring, and infiltration of AMEMSA communities without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity,” said Summer Hararah from the Asian Law Caucus.
In a unanimous 10-0 vote, the Board of Supervisors voted to pass a resolution sponsored by Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, and co-sponsored by Supervisors David Chiu, Eric Mar, David Campos, and John Avalos, to endorse the HRC report.
SEE: “Community Concerns of Racial and Religious Profiling of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian community members and Potential Reactivation of SFPD Intelligence Gathering.”
The report documents community and expert testimony made during a September 2010 HRC hearing and makes recommendations to address grave concerns that were raised. Testimony during the hearing affirmed frequent complaints received by local civil rights groups from AMEMSA community members facing racial and religious profiling while traveling and suspicionless interrogation, surveillance, and infiltration by local and federal law enforcement personnel at their homes, places of worship, and workplaces.
The Board of Supervisor’s resolution encourages relevant city agencies to consider implementation of the recommendations and findings detailed in the report, and commends members of the AMEMSA community and the HRC for their efforts to resolve the ongoing civil rights violations impacting the community.
SEE: San Francisco Board of Supervisors Meeting Minutes
Supervisor Mirkarimi highlighted the importance of the Resolution, stressing that the SFPD must respond to the various concerns raised. Supervisor Jane Kim, echoed this stating that she wanted answers about the assignments and funding of the SFPD’s sixty new “terrorist liaison” officers.
Zahra Billoo, Executive Director of the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, congratulated the Supervisors, “the Supervisors unanimous endorsement of this report and its recommendations is a step in the right direction, especially in light of rise in Islamophobia and suspicionless surveillance of American Muslim communities all over the country.”
Veena Dubal, Staff Attorney at the Asian Law Caucus, also applauded the Board of Supervisors’ endorsement of the report. Dubal stated, “This is a huge step forward. The recommendations endorsed by the Supervisors speak directly to the community’s concerns about being profiled and spied on without any criminal suspion, in spite of the strong local regulations prohibiting this activity.”
The SFPD’s recent release of it’s memorandum of understanding with the FBI confirm’s the community’s fears: SFPD officers assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force are permited to circumvent local and state privacy laws to spy without reasonable suspicion.
SEE: SFPD officers working with FBI given more leeway to gather intelligence
An attorney from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center, Nour Chammas, affirmed, “We commend the Board of Supervisors and the HRC for their courage and for taking the lead in protecting San Franciscans from racial and religious profiling and overbroad surveillance.”
The Coalition for a Safe SF is a grassroots alliance of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian American organizations as well as legal groups, which has been working on efforts to gain transparency and accountability around unconstitutional profiling practices to help safeguard the civil liberties and civil rights of all San Franciscans from overbroad national security policies. The Coalition includes a diverse alliance of community organizations, legal groups and community activists, including the Arab Resource & Organizing Center (AROC), Council on American-Islamic Relations San Francisco Bay Area chapter (CAIR-SFBA), Asian Law Caucus (ALC), National Lawyers Guild (NLG-SF) and the Alliance of South Asians Taking Action (ASATA).