The former owner of a shuttered 5th Avenue coffee shop was profiled in a lengthy Associated Press follow-up to their groundbreaking investigation into the NYPD’s surveillance program targeting New York’s Muslim community.
The AP reports that Mousa Ahman knew that the Bay Ridge International Café, the coffee shop on the corner of 5th Avenue and 71st Street that he owned, was under surveillance by the authorities long before the AP’s put the spotlight on the NYPD’s spying program – from suspicion of strangers stationing themselves inside the café or on nearby benches for hours, and from a police raid on a neighboring barber shop. Fearing that they would end up on a blacklist, customers stopped going to Ahman’s shop, which eventually closed down. The NYPD surveillance program has been criticized for illegally targeting an ethnic community with unreasonable privacy incursions without evidence of wrongdoing, though the Police Department disputes this.
Individuals such as Ahman who feel as though they are the victims of unconstitutional surveillance may not have any practical legal options in today’s legislative and judicial environment. The story quotes an executive director for the New York Civil Liberties Union as saying, “It’s really not clear that people can do anything if they’ve been subjected to unlawful surveillance anymore.”