Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
Nearly 1,500 NYPD Officers Exposed to Controversial Anti-Muslim Film: Cops
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
The NYPD said it showed a controversial film about Islam to more officers than it originally indicated and was involved in its production — backpedaling on earlier remarks that it was shown only once.
More than 1,400 officers were exposed to the video, which was shown on a loop in the breakroom for a three-month period, according to police documents obtained by NYU's Brennan Center for Justice.
In March 2011, the police department told WNYC the film "The Third Jihad" — described by the center as "virulently anti-Muslim" — only once in January. The NYPD is now also acknowledging that it took part in making the film.
"I agreed, and regret that considering I thought that somebody with those credentials would have produced a more objective production and that turned out not to be the case," Paul Browne, deputy commissioner for the NYPD, told WNYC's The Takeaway on Wednesday.
In 2007, Browne said he was approached by the film's producer — a former NBC Dateline producer who worked for the Clinton administration.
The film shows TV images of Hezbollah rocket attacks, children being held hostage by Muslim militants and a woman it says was arrested in Iran for wearing immodest clothing.
A number of Muslim groups are calling for the resignations of both Browne and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for being involved in what they deem "hateful propaganda" about the Muslim community.
The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition is also demanding re-training of all officers who viewed the film.
Although he described Kelly "compassionate and caring, and wise and smart," Zead Ramadan, chair of CAIR New York chapter, said this "lapse of judgment is so severe that it might be time for a replacement.”
"He is now representing the City of New York, and he was part of a Nazi-esque style hate movie about Muslims," Ramadan said.
Asim Rehman, vice president of Muslim Bar Association of New York, said Browne should resign because "he has been exceptionally dismissive of concerns raised by the New York Muslim community."
Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the Brennan Center's Liberty and National Security Program, said the revelations point to the need for stronger oversight of the NYPD.
"If you look at its counterpart in the federal government, which is the FBI, the FBI operates under the umbrella of the Justice Department," Goitein said. "It’s overseen by Congressional committees. And there’s an Inspector General to keep an eye on its activities. The NYPD has none of that."
Currently, the city’s Civilian Complaint Review Board processes complaints against the NYPD, but it lacks the authority to punish police officers accused of misconduct and can only make disciplinary recommendations to Kelly.
Former Village Voice reporter Tom Robbins was first to report on the film.
With the Associated Press
READ BELOW: A signed letter Kelly sent to members of the Muslim community - March 2011 NYPD Letter 7 March 2011 (Received After March 10, 2011)