Mayor Bloomberg Disavows Use of Anti-Muslim Movie in Police Training

By Jill Colvin on January 24, 2012 6:35pm 

Mayor Michael Bloomberg holds a press conference after delivering testimony before the joint session of the Assembly Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees
Mayor Michael Bloomberg holds a press conference after delivering testimony before the joint session of the Assembly Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees
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Flickr/Kristen Artz

MANHATTAN — Mayor Michael Bloomberg slammed police for exercising "terrible judgment" when they repeatedly played a controversial film that portrayed Islam as dangerous to nearly 1,500 new recruits.

Police brass originally said the film, "The Third Jihad," had been mistakenly screened "a couple of times" to new recruits during training.

But the New York Times reported Tuesday that the film had actually been played to new recruits "on a continuous loop" for up to a year, further straining already tense relations between the NYPD and the city’s Muslim community.

"Somebody exercised terrible judgment," Bloomberg told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Albany. He said neither he nor Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly knew the video was being used.

"It was not done at the Police Academy," Bloomberg said. "It was done someplace else, and as soon as they found out about it, they stopped it."

The NYPD is already under intense scrutiny based on allegations it engaged in domestic spying against Muslims, collecting information on local merchants, community leaders and mosques — even when there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has been deeply critical of the Bloomberg administration, called Tuesday for a complete review of all NYPD training on Islam. The group urged Kelly to "offer a concrete plan to help counter the misinformation about Islam and Muslims provided to almost 1,500 officers through the screening of 'The Third Jihad.' "

"Only transparent accountability can begin to rebuild the Muslim community's trust in the department following this admission and other recent revelations of warrantless spying on innocent Muslims," CAIR-NY Civil Rights Manager Cyrus McGoldrick said.

The mayor’s comments came after he spent more than 90 minutes in front of a joint state Senate-Assembly hearing on the impact of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $132 billion budget on New York City.

Bloomberg was largely complimentary of the governor’s plan, and pressed the lawmakers to act quickly to create a new pension tier that would lift the minimum retirement age. The mayor said the controversial change would save the city an estimated $30 billion over 30 years.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivers testimony before the joint session of the Assembly Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivers testimony before the joint session of the Assembly Ways and Means and the Senate Finance committees.
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Flickr/Kristen Artz

He also urged lawmakers to adopt a new teacher evaluation system to ensure New York is eligible for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal "Race to the Top" funds, and to increase funding for the city’s after-school programs. He also asked legislators to support Cuomo's push to expand the state’s DNA database, arguing that collecting DNA is cheaper and more reliable than fingerprinting and would provide important protection against wrongful convictions.

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