Color of Surveillance Delegation Takes DC By Storm, Demands Transparency and Accountability on Government Surveillance Aimed at Communities of Color

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Community leaders from around the country participated in lobby visits, a Congressional briefing, and a full day conference at Georgetown Law last week as part of the Color of Surveillance delegation organized by the Center for Media Justice. They came to DC to fight against surveillance and harassment by law enforcement and intelligence agencies aimed particularly at Muslims. The delegation included National Network for Arab American Communities, Justice for Muslims Collective, Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, Muslim Justice League, MPower Change, Palestinian Youth Movement, Young Muslim Collective, Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, and Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.

Additional support was provided by Color of Change, Defending Rights and Dissent, and Free Press.

The Congressional Black Caucus hosted a briefing open only to members of Congress and their staff on surveillance and harassment of Black and Muslim communities and activists on July 18. The room was packed and attendees learned about the deleterious impact of the Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program on Muslim communities, and the way Black Lives Matter activists are being monitored and harassed by local police.

The next day, many of these Muslim, Arab, and South Asian activists gave powerful presentations at the annual Color of Surveillance conference at Georgetown Law School, including a debate about the merits of CVE programs with two academics who promote CVE. Audience response at the debate indicated the community activists fighting CVE clearly won that debate.

Steven Rederos, Center for Media Justice; Fatema Ahmad, Muslim Justice League; Nadia Kahn, Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.

The delegation also had meetings to discuss CVE and the FBI’s Black Identity Extremist Threat Assessment with about a dozen congressional offices, including fruitful conversations with staff for Senator Warren (D-MA) and Senator Harris (D-CA).

Here are some of the highlights: