Mayor Michael Bloomberg Defends NYPD Top Cop Ray Kelly in Anti-Muslim Film Flap

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended Police Commissioner Ray Kelly on Thursday, dismissing calls for the city's top cop to step down over the showing of a controversial anti-Muslim film — one that he was interviewed for and appeared in — to nearly 1,500 officers.

The mayor also said he did not see a need to re-train officers, as some critics have called for, and isn't willing to push for an additional oversight body for the department.

"Commissioner Kelly should not step down," Bloomberg said. "I think it’s fair to say that it was a little bit of an embarrassment that this film was made."

Meanwhile, the makers of the film, Clarion Fund, claimed the Muslim community was unfairly targeting Kelly because of his “aggressive” counter-terror strategies, which includes surveillance of Muslim communities.

"When we called up Ray Kelly, we didn’t anticipate this situation four years later," said spokesman Alex Traiman. "You know, we just thought ‘Here’s the head of one of America’s most forward-thinking counter-terror organizations in the world. Wouldn’t it be great if he’ll be in our film?’ And we were fortunate that he said, 'Yeah.'”

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American Islamic Relations, said that blaming the Muslim community for the controversy was "utter nonsense." He noted that the organization brought its concerns about the film to the NYPD a year ago, and it's taken that long for the details to come out. "It's never the crime, it's the cover up," he said.

Also Thursday, a few City Council members and several dozen members of the Muslim community gathered on City Hall steps Thursday to call for greater oversight in the NYPD and, in some cases, the resignation of top department brass over the anti-Muslim video that was seen by nearly 1,500 officers last year.

“This is not one bad apple. This is not one incident of something going wrong. This is not just one officer who is doing something wrong,” said City Councilman Jumaane Williams of Brooklyn. “There is a corrosive culture going through the NYPD that neither the mayor or the commissioner has what it takes to admit there’s a problem.”

Imam Talib Adbu-Rasid, the head of the Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood, said he asked Kelly about the use of the video at a Pre-Ramadan briefing and that commissioner said the video was only playing in the background of particular session before it began.

“It is now clear that someone deceived Commissioner Kelly or Commissioner Kelly deceived us,” said the Imam.

(Photo: City Council member Jumaane Williams was among those who rallied against the NYPD on the steps of City Hall Thursday. Yasmeen Khan/WNYC)

In addition to calling for an independent investigation by the City Council, and the retraining of officers who viewed the video, Abdu-Rasid said that he and other imams plan to ask State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and if necessary, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, “to investigate the showing of that bigoted video by NYPD personnel as well as the systematic violation of civil and human rights of Muslim American citizens.”

The Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition is also demanding re-training of all officers who viewed the film.

On Wednesday, Kelly issued a statement apologizing to members of the Muslim community over the showing of "The Third Jihad" — a film the Muslim community have described as “hateful propaganda," which played on a loop for three months in a Brooklyn breakroom and for which he was interviewed.

“While it never became part of the department’s curriculum, and was not authorized for any training, regrettably it was shown in a room where officers who were filling out paperwork or on break from actual training had an opportunity to view it over an extended period in 2010,” Kelly’s statement read.

In a signed letter (below) from Kelly to the MACLC dated March 2011, the commissioner said that the NYPD “did not participate in the production and we do not believe the content is appropriate for training purposes.”

Browne now says he was approached by the film’s director in 2007, and that he recommended Kelly be interviewed.

"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.

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.

With Brigid Bergin and Yasmeen Khan

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)


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Comments [17]

K Webster from nyc

"it was a little bit of an embarrassment"?
No, it was more than that. You have only to read some of the comments posted to this "progressive" site to understand - propaganda that incites fear and hatred (like this does) requires an aggressive, unhesitating response.

When you show the bodies of dead children everyone stops thinking. It's a horror. We are all correctly repulsed by anyone who would use such cowardly and brutal tactics. It is never ever justified. Ever.

But if fighting terrorism is the goal then we want a police force that can think. Not use emotional manipulation in place of hard information. Not "profile" (which in itself means you turn off your active intelligence to try to fit someone into a category). Racism, any oppression, makes us stupid. We don't want to be stupid in a real struggle.

This film is pointed deliberately to incite people to assume the worst of Muslims. Do Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc. want to be defined by the heinous crimes of some of our brethren? Cowardly murderers have come from every walk of life. It's a human problem - any of us could get that twisted. We have to solve it as such. The real question is what does it take to turn a child into a monster? And tackle that.

In the meantime, the Mayor and the Police Commissioner were entrusted to serve all New Yorkers. They need to examine carefully how they could have gotten involved in such a hateful project, showed it without vetting it (or if it was vetted, remove that staff), lied about it, kept lying about it and (now) trying to shove it under the rug.

This requires a stand-up response. Dismissing this as an embarrassment is not that.

Jan. 27 2012 09:53 AM
mr perfect from uptown

The entire film is on Youtube, free to see. Spread the word.

Jan. 26 2012 07:37 PM

Kelly did nothing wrong! Those who don't like it can get out! We will not miss you!

Jan. 26 2012 05:40 PM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

I haven't seen the film (and wonder how many people have), so I would reserve judgement about its content until I saw it and assessed for myself.

That said, it's getting old for anyone who's upset about how their community is treated or portrayed to instantly demand that officials "resign." I'm not sure how this helps anyone - how can a dialogue about anything occur, policies change, or even opinions be swayed - when those community members and elected officials want to instantaneously silence who and what they view as the opposition?

Jan. 26 2012 04:41 PM
Political Pop from America

Who Cares Nowdays =) Vote And Die!

Jan. 26 2012 11:28 AM
Alon C from Brooklyn

The onus is on the "muslim community" to reach out to the American mainstream. Not the other way around as is suggested by these bullying tactics deployed by these masochistic liberal mush-heads. This film tells the truth which is more than can be said for NPR's coverage of this non-issue. Radical Islam's first targets are gays, women, jews, and everything else that purportedly sits in the liberal camp. To all those who are making noises about this film being shown to cops please STFU. Liberal garbage complaints will be resisted. I find it offensive and so should you.

On the bright side, perhaps this film will be seen by more people because of this "story."

Jan. 26 2012 10:43 AM

Ray Kelly should resign!
The police force is ripe with corruption, out of control officers, unconstitutional search and seizures.
In addition, Ray Kelly's son is now being investigated for allegedly raping a woman.
By the way, my father was a cop in NYC for 20 years-retired in 1971.

Jan. 26 2012 10:16 AM
Bobby G from East Village

What's to be done about this? OVERSIGHT!

The City values the great work of the NYPD, but the lying and the so called reprimand (wink, wink) for the unnamed sergeant who showed this film points to the the fact there is essentially no oversight of the NYPD. The Civilian Complaint Review Panel is a joke.

Jan. 26 2012 10:09 AM
Caroline Schimmel from Greenwich, CT

According to a caller on Leonard Lopate yesterday, this film was financed by a group which is heavily supported by the folks from Las Vegas--Newt's $10 million dollar just-friends.

Jan. 26 2012 10:09 AM
Herb from NYC

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly for President. He is protecting us. These liberal policies are suicide.

Jan. 26 2012 08:59 AM
Mr Perfect from Manhattan

If everything in this film is true then is it still propaganda? Are you a terrorist sympathizer?

Jan. 26 2012 08:41 AM

Browne and Kelly should both resign. They knowingly participated in hate propoganda and lied about it. Mayor Bloomberg, if not eager to do the right thing based on principle alone, should try imagining how he would feel about their disgusting actions had the target group been Jews.

Jan. 26 2012 08:15 AM

If Kelly had willingly taken (and then lied about taking) part in a film that maliciously demonized _any_ other ethnic group. he would already have been forced out. Despite the token gestures of Bloomberg and Kelly towards tolerance, equality, fairness, they — like much of the US today — eagerly foster anti-Muslim hatred. They are not as rabidly racist as Glenn Beck or Rep. Peter King, but they willfully endorse racism, especially by NYPD.

Jan. 26 2012 08:01 AM
Leti Moli

Muslims should not be offended when multicultural countries who receive them with open arms show evidence of the dangers of extremist Islamic terrorism, a well known and documented growing totalitarian and fanatic religious trend. The intent behind all this seems to be to deflect attention from the reality of Islamic terrorism. One would hope that in America good Muslims should promote the knowledge of this problem and demand protection from it as good citizens, not the dismissal of law enforcement officers.

Jan. 26 2012 01:43 AM
bobby bell

this is the same commissioner that this morning on wwrl interview said he had no idea of the film and was apauled at what was going on
but he did an interview for the film and was in the film and it was not
a clip from another interview that was done before the film showed up
in the class room of the recruts this just gos to show how screwed up
the nypd is

Jan. 25 2012 11:17 PM
Lamdan from NYC

Care to elaborate on that "oh please"?

Jan. 25 2012 08:43 PM

oh please.

Jan. 25 2012 07:57 PM

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