A federal judge on Tuesday revisited at a decades-old court settlement restricting how the New York Police Department conducts surveillance after civil rights lawyers accused the department of breaking those rules by monitoring Muslims.
The dispute centers on the restrictions set by the Handschu decree, which was put in place in response to surveillance used against war protesters in the 1960s and 70s. The decree was relaxed following the September 11 terror attacks to allow police to more freely monitor political activity in public places.
"I've come to think of this case as a volcano that's asleep most of the time … but every now and then blows up," District Judge Charles Haight said at the start of a hearing in federal court in Manhattan.
The latest eruption stems from the NYPD's monitoring of Muslims, where they eat, study and worship as part of its counterterrorism efforts.
In February, civil rights lawyers filed papers seeking a court order barring further surveillance of Muslims without evidence of crimes and a court-appointed auditor to oversee police activities that were "flagrant and persistent".