MLFA Advises White House on Community Policing

DALLAS — Feb. 19, 2015 — Representatives from Muslim Legal Fund of America participated in a White House listening session on the President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing on Tuesday and provided recommendations related to anti-Muslim bias in law enforcement and the need for police to respect watchdog activities.

During the conference, MLFA Executive Director Khalil Meek agreed with the American Civil Liberties Union’s recommendations (PDF) and added that law enforcement should not employ cottage industry trainers that teach officers and agents to hold anti-Muslim bias.

Meek was referring to the 2011 investigative report by Spencer Ackerman in Wired in which he uncovered FBI training documents that taught agents that mainstream American Muslims “are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a ‘cult leader’; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a ‘funding mechanism for combat.’” The Washington Postreported in March that such anti-Muslim speakers are still being used in law enforcement training programs.

“The training materials we’ve seen used for FBI and local law enforcement training are extremely troubling,” said Meek. “Muslims can’t expect to be treated fairly by agents who are taught to hate and fear all Muslims.”

Meek also suggested that law enforcement be trained on the legality of people recording police encounters. He said that it is unfortunate that some police forces and municipalities have attempted to criminalize the act of recording police encounters, yet such activities help shed light on incidents like the recent police killing of Eric Garner.

“It is crucial to the health of our democracy that people filming police encounters do so without fear of being harassed or threatened by law enforcement,” said Meek. “Everyone with a camera phone is a potential watchdog against police brutality or misconduct, and this freedom should never be taken away from the people.”

Representatives from the Executive Office of the President reached out to MLFA earlier this year to invite representatives to participate in the listening session on the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which was originally planned to take place in the White House on Friday, February 13. The meeting was rescheduled as a conference call on Tuesday, February 17, because of weather conditions.

Muslim Legal Fund of America is a national charity that funds legal work and programs to defend Muslims against injustice in American courtrooms, prisons and communities. Established in 2001, MLFA has defending: freedom of speech, association, and religion; the right to a fair trial; and other constitutional rights.

To learn more about MLFA, visit https://www.mlfa.org.

Photo Credit: Cezary Piwowarski (photo image was cropped, see original)