Saturday, April 2, 2022



 As Governor Hochul pushes to hand over more than $1 billion of public money to the billionaire Pegulas family, Assemblyman Ron Kim and Senator Jabari Brisport have proposed new legislation that would require any professional sports team that received 51% or more in public funding for a new stadium give the public the ability to purchase 51% or more of the team.

This legislation is based on a simple principle: if the public is spending money on a sports franchise, it is the public that should benefit. Accordingly, if more than half of a new stadium is financed with public support, then the public should have the opportunity to purchase more than half of the sports franchise. This will ensure that billionaire sports franchises cannot extort the public, and that the true stakeholders — the people of New York who support the team — benefit from any public expenditures.

Assemblyman Ron Kim:“Governor Hochul has portrayed handing $1 billion of taxpayer money to the Buffalo Bills billionaire owners, the Pegulas, as a necessity for keeping the team in our state. If she is genuinely concerned about them leaving New York, our proposal ensures that the team stays in Buffalo. It would convert any use of taxpayer money by a team to an ownership stake for the public. If they try to take their money and leave, it would give the community and city a chance to keep the team."

Senator Jabari Brisport: “We cannot keep giving away public funds to massive corporations and billionaires while getting little to nothing in return for New Yorkers. It is appalling that a billionaire is attempting to hold hostage a team that would be nothing without the fans who have uplifted it – and funded it – for generations. It’s time to stop catering to the rich and powerful at the expense of everyday New Yorkers.”



Absence of $15 Billion in Ongoing Funding Could Lead to Increased Demand on City-Run Services to Test, Treat, and Vaccinate New Yorkers


City Stepping Up, Distributing At-Home Test Kits to Boost Ongoing Preparedness

 New York City Mayor Adams and city health leaders today called on all members of Congress to appropriate more than $15 billion in emergency funding for COVID-19. While New York City will continue providing testing and vaccine services to New Yorkers at no cost through NYC Health + Hospitals, gridlock in Washington, DC has threatened the health of communities across New York and the rest of the nation. Earlier this week, Mayor Adams met with the New York City congressional delegation and urged them to push for immediate passage of the COVID-19 aid package. As the city and the nation wait for action from certain members of Congress to protect Americans’ health, New York is taking action to bolster preparedness efforts. Specifically, the NYC Test & Trace Corps will provide an additional 6.3 million free at-home tests in April to over 2,500 community organizations, libraries, cultural institutions, houses of worship, and elected offices across the city.


“We have more tools than ever to fight COVID-19, but now is not the time to scale back,” said Mayor Adams. “As we step up and provide more than 6 million at-home tests to keep our residents safe, we need our federal government to continue pushing for much-needed resources. We remain committed to assisting the New York City congressional delegation as they work to secure COVID-19 supplemental funding, but inaction by certain members of Congress right now puts the whole country at risk. We need federal action now before we left to fend for ourselves if another surge hits our city.”


Test & Trace has distributed nearly 11 million at-home tests to date, with approximately 7 million tests delivered to New York City schools. Test & Trace currently maintains a stockpile of tens of millions of tests that can be rapidly distributed in the event of a surge.


Making at-home testing widely available ensures New Yorkers can test themselves immediately if they have symptoms so they can safely head to work, school, or other gatherings with family and friends, or quickly receive treatment, if needed.


The more than $15 billion in funding Congress has yet to authorize has the potential to:

  • Impact the federal supply of vaccines and treatments;
  • Eliminate federal reimbursement to private providers for vaccination, testing, and outpatient treatment provided to uninsured people;
  • Reduce immediate access to services for testing, treatment, and vaccination, which could lead to delays in testing and care; and
  • Put the country at risk of losing its ability to develop and distribute vaccines for new variants in the future.


Last night, rumors began to surface that Congress may soon consider an aid package valued at approximately $10 billion — less than half of the $22.5 billion President Joseph Biden had initially sought to continue the fight against COVID-19. 


“New York City is well positioned to respond to the increase in cases through a robust testing network, including the distribution of over 6 million at home tests through community-based partnerships” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “I urge all New Yorkers to take the necessary precautions, including getting vaccinated, boosted, and wearing a mask, in order to protect their health, the health of their families, and school communities.”


“Cases are rising, and we expect to see a steady increase in transmission as BA.2 continues to circulate around the city,” said New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan. “We’ve all been through so much the last couple years and we need every tool available to us. It’s crucial we all take the steps we know work to keep us safe and healthy, like getting vaccinated, boosted, tested, and wearing masks in settings where the vaccination status of those around you are unknown. ”


“At NYC Health + Hospitals, we believe that health care is a human right and we serve every New Yorker regardless of their ability to pay or their immigration status,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals. “The COVID-19 federal funding pool helped us take care of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers without disrupting our non-COVID care. This funding ensures that everyone can access a COVID-19 test and a vaccination so they can remain healthy.”


“We want every New Yorker to have access to home tests so you can know if you have COVID before you go to work, school, or see friends and loved ones,” said Dr. Ted Long, executive director, NYC Test & Trace Corps; senior vice president of Ambulatory Care and Population Health, NYC Health + Hospitals. “Thanks to our thousands of program partners, we are prepared for the BA.2 variant with at-home tests accessible at locations for all the city’s diverse communities. I urge the federal government to renew emergency funding so that they can continue to assist us with our critical mission to provide ready access to testing, treatments and vaccination, and to end the pandemic.”


Earlier this week, President Biden warned there may not be enough vaccine supply to guarantee free access to vaccines for those who want them this fall, just as the federal government approved a second booster dose for adults aged 50 and older, making this federal funding even more dire. In addition, the federal government is already scaling back allocations for COVID-19 treatments, like monoclonal antibody treatments and oral antivirals. These treatments have been a lifeline for many vulnerable New Yorkers, and without them, severe outcomes due to COVID-19 infection will increase.


Any New York City-based community organization that would like to participate as an at-home test distribution partner is encouraged to sign up online. New Yorkers can find an at-home test distribution location most convenient to them by visiting the city’s coronavirus testing page New Yorkers with a disability who need assistance or have questions regarding at home test kits or otherwise should call 311. Those who are deaf or hard of hearing and use American Sign Language can call via video phone at 646-396-5830.  


Senator Biaggi's Week in Review: 3/28/22-4/1/22


Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Dear Community,

April marks the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This month is dedicated to raising public awareness and educating our community on how to help prevent violence. Sexual violence remains a pervasive public health, human rights, and social justice issue, and we observe this month to emphasize the need for greater prevention efforts and support for survivors. 

We all have a responsibility to support survivors and prevent sexual violence. Below is a list of local resources and organizations to support:


  • NYC Sexual Assault Hotline: 212-267-7273
  • Safe Horizon Hotlines: 
    • Domestic Violence: 1-800-621-4673
    • Sexual Assault: 1-212-227-3000
  • NY State Hotline for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence: 1-800-942-6906

Victim Assistance Programs:

  • NYC Family Justice Center, Bronx: 718-508-1220
  • Safe Horizon Bronx Family Justice Center: 718-508-1275
  • North Central Bronx Hospital-Sexual Assault Treatment Program: 718-519-3100
  • The Hebrew Home for the Aged at Riverdale (The Weibberg Center): 718-581-1472
  • Crime Victims Support Services, North Bronx: 718-823-4925


The evening of April 1st also marks the start of the holy month of Ramadan. I’d like to wish everyone observing a blessed and fulfilling month! 

With Gratitude,

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi

Governor Hochul Announces Eligibility for Second COVID-19 Vaccine Boosters - APRIL 2, 202 - No Update on State's Progress Combating COVID-19 from the Governor On Saturday and Sunday.

 COVID-19 Vaccine Vials

New Yorkers 50 Years and Older Who Received First Booster At Least Four Months Ago Are Eligible; Adults 18 - 49 Years Who Received the Johnson & Johnson Vaccine and Immunocompromised New Yorkers 12 Years and Older Also Eligible for an mRNA Booster Four Months After First Booster

State Department of Health and CDC Continue to Strongly Recommend Initial Booster Doses for Eligible Adults and Adolescents

Schedule Your Free Booster Appointment at Any State-Run Mass Vaccination Site Here or Find a Nearby Location Here

 Governor Kathy Hochul today announced eligibility for second COVID-19 vaccine booster doses. Booster doses are free and widely available statewide, including at all state-run mass vaccination sites. Eligible New Yorkers may receive an mRNA vaccine—either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine—for their second booster shot.

"Second boosters are now available to eligible New Yorkers statewide, including at all of the State's mass vaccination sites," Governor Hochul said. "Getting vaccinated and staying up-to-date with all recommended doses is the most effective way to prevent severe illness and hospitalization, and move safely forward through this pandemic."  

The State's Department of Health released new clinical guidance on the administration of second booster doses for all providers enrolled in the New York State vaccination program. The guidance follows the Federal Drug Administration's (FDA) approval of Emergency Use Authorization for a second booster and the updated recommendation from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to allow adults 50 years and older to receive a second booster of an mRNA vaccine at least four months after their first booster. Additionally, adults ages 18 - 49 years who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for their primary vaccine and initial booster dose now may receive a second booster four months after their first booster dose. Also eligible for the second booster are New Yorkers 12 years and older who are moderately to severely immunocompromised.  

State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said, "Providers statewide, including at the state's mass vaccination sites, are ready to administer second booster doses for eligible New Yorkers. For each of us, vaccination remains our personal best line of defense against COVID. As we have seen with the recent increase of the Omicron sub-variant BA.2, COVID is still with us. These safe and effective vaccines remain free, including the second booster."

The New York State Department of Health continues to share CDC's recommendation that all eligible adults, adolescents, and children five years and older get fully vaccinated and receive an initial COVID-19 booster when eligible. For eligible New Yorkers, a first booster dose is safe and continues to provide strong protection against severe outcomes. According to CDC data from the recent Omicron surge, those who were boosted were 21-times less likely to die from COVID-19 compared to those who were unvaccinated, and 7-times less likely to be hospitalized. In accordance with CDC's recommendation, the State's updated guidance acknowledges the increased risk of severe disease for certain populations, making a second mRNA booster available for those who may choose to increase their protection further.  

The State's booster and additional dose website includes information for New Yorkers about first and second boosters, additional doses, eligibility, frequently asked questions, and resources for providers on-the-ground. The State will continue its outreach to booster-eligible New Yorkers through SMS-based messages, traditional and digital marketing efforts, and push notifications through the State's Excelsior Pass platform.  

All New York State mass vaccination sites are administering second booster doses to eligible New Yorkers. To schedule an appointment at a state-run mass vaccination site, New Yorkers can visit the Am I Eligible page or call 1-833-NYS-4-VAX. People may also contact their pharmacy, local county health department, or healthcare provider to schedule appointments where vaccines are available. New Yorkers can also visit, text their ZIP code to 438829, or call 1-800-232-0233 to find nearby locations. New Yorkers should make sure providers are administering second booster doses when scheduling their appointments.

Bronx Gang Member Charged With Double Murder And Shooting Of 16-Year-Old


Kai Johnson is Charged With the Murders of Price Tunstall and Malik Tunstall in August 2021 and the Shooting of a 16-Year-Old in April 2021

 Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Ricky J. Patel, the Acting Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Department of Homeland Security (“HSI”), Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), and Jocelyn E. Strauber, the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Investigation (“DOI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging KAI JOHNSON with racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering, being a felon in possession of ammunition, and firearms offenses, relating to JOHNSON’s participation in: (1) the murders of Price Tunstall and Malik Tunstall in the vicinity of the James Monroe Houses in the Bronx on August 31, 2021; and (2) a non-fatal shooting of a 16-year-old in the vicinity of the James Monroe Houses in the Bronx on April 4, 2021.

JOHNSON was already in state custody relating to other charges and will be presented today before Magistrate Judge Sarah L. Cave.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Lewis J. Liman.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “As alleged in the indictment, the defendant is responsible for the cold-blooded murders of Price Tunstall and Malik Tunstall, just a few months after shooting and injuring a 16-year-old in the same neighborhood.  We continue our daily work with our law enforcement partners to keep our communities safe and to vigorously investigate and prosecute those who bring violence to our streets.”

HSI Acting Special Agent-in Charge Ricky J. Patel said:  “It is alleged that Johnson participated in multiple shootings in and around public housing facilities in the Bronx, including a double murder. The residents of New York City’s public housing developments deserve a safe living space, free from violence and the influence of dangerous gang members’ desire to instill fear throughout the community. This indictment against Johnson is an example of bringing the strength of federal racketeering statutes in the fight to secure the streets of New York and stem the tide of violence plaguing the citizens of New York City. HSI is proud to partner in this fight with our colleagues at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the New York City Police Department, and the New York City Department of Investigation.”

NYPD Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell said:  “At a time of rising violent crime, increasing numbers of shootings, and too many young people victimized by illegal guns, today’s federal indictment illustrates the NYPD’s commitment to using the combined strength of all of our tools to help New Yorkers, hold trigger-pullers accountable, and attain justice for victims. We commend our investigators, our federal law enforcement partners and the work of the prosecutors of the United States Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York for their sustained work in this important case.”   

DOI Commissioner Jocelyn E. Strauber said:  “Gang violence terrorizes New Yorkers and destabilizes communities.  The allegations in this Indictment make clear the dangerous impact of gang warfare in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx and the critical need to protect all of New York City’s neighborhoods.  I am proud that DOI’s partnership with the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, the New York City Police Department, and the New York Office of Homeland Security Investigations led to these charges, and we will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners to prioritize and promote public safety.” 

According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court[1]:

KAI JOHNSON is a member or associate of a racketeering enterprise known as the Stevenson Commons Crew.  In order to fund the enterprise, protect and expand its interests, and promote its standing, members and associates of the Stevenson Commons Crew committed, conspired, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence against rival gangs, including murder and assault; conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute narcotics; and obtained, possessed and used firearms, including by brandishing and discharging them. 

On August 31, 2021, JOHNSON murdered Malik Tunstall and Price Tunstall in the vicinity of 805 Taylor Avenue in the Bronx, New York.

On April 4, 2021, JOHNSON shot at rival gang members in the vicinity of 877 Taylor Avenue in the Bronx, New York, which resulted in a 16-year-old being grazed in the head with a bullet.

JOHNSON, 27, is charged with one count of racketeering conspiracy, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of life in prison; two counts of murder in aid of racketeering, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of the death penalty or life in prison, and a mandatory minimum sentence of life in prison; two counts of murder through use of a firearm, which carries a statutory maximum sentence of the death penalty or life in prison, and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison; two counts of being a felon in possession of ammunition, which carries a statutory maximum of ten years in prison; and one count of using and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, which was brandished and discharged, which carries a statutory maximum of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison. 

The maximum potential sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of HSI, DOI, and the NYPD.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment constitutes only allegations, and every fact described herein should be treated as an allegation.

Comptroller Lander, Islamic Relief USA, and Hunger Relief Organizations Kick Off Ramadan With ‘Iftar On The Go’ Program To Distribute Free Halal Meals


Comptroller and hunger relief organizations call for stable and sufficient funding for healthy, fresh, and culturally appropriate meals especially during Ramadan, Passover and Easter.

 The Office of NYC Comptroller Brad Lander is kicking off Ramadan with a series of events in partnership with Islamic Relief USA, community-based organizations, elected officials, and hunger relief organizations to distribute nearly 14,000 halal iftar meals to families in need at grab-and-go sites in every borough.

“In a city as rich as NYC, no one should have to go hungry. Yet food insecurity remains a persistent issue across every community in our city, exacerbated by the pandemic’s economic disruptions. I am grateful for the work of Islamic Relief USA and so many relief organizations who are working to ensure families in need this Ramadan don’t go hungry. As we work to secure an equitable recovery for everyone in our city, ensuring access to healthy, fresh and culturally appropriate food must remain a high priority,” said Comptroller Brad Lander. 

The number of people seeking support from food pantries and programs approximately doubled during the pandemic as people lost jobs and income, peaking in May of 2020. Feeding America estimates that more than 1.4 million New Yorkers are food insecure, up from 1 million in 2019. While New York City’s recovery is underway, it remains uneven and prices are rising just as pandemic relief programs are ending. Demand at food pantries across the city is still far higher than it was before the pandemic.

“The month of Ramadan is a time of generosity and reflection. With all of the strife and suffering taking place presently, Muslims around the world have an opportunity, if not an obligation, during this holy month to further increase their spirit of altruism and make sacrifices in order to decrease the plight faced by so many of our most vulnerable populations. Food insecurity, unfortunately, remains a persistent problem, with millions in the United States struggling to get by and provide for their families. Through our partnership with the New York City Comptroller’s Office, we hope to mitigate it by providing hot, nutritious meals while working on solutions to address hunger’s structural causes,” said Sharif Aly, Chief Executive Officer at Islamic Relief USA.  

“As Muslims in New York City and around the world observe Ramadan, a sacred month of fasting and devotion, Food Bank For New York City is today more than ever committed to providing cultural, community, and religious relevant food to those who struggle to put food on the table for themselves and their families. The spirit of empathy and togetherness of Ramadan is reflected in our mission, and we are proud to partner again with NYC Comptroller Brad Lander and Islamic Relief USA to serve our City’s diverse Muslim communities with appropriate fresh food for Iftar meals,” said  Leslie Gordon, President and CEO of Food Bank For New York City. 

“Iftars on the Go is in its second year of an all  inclusive food security program sponsored by the collaborative efforts of the NYC Comptroller’s Office and Islamic Relief USA. Providing healthy nutritional hot halal meals during the holy month of Ramadan is not only essential to our communities but spiritually rewarding for the giver and the receiver. It is an asset and blessing in more ways than one,” said Jamilah LaSalle, Co-Founder of the Bait-ul Jamaat – House of Community. 

“Food insecurity persists throughout many communities in NYC and it is our collective responsibility to create long term solutions that make sure families don’t go hungry. A lack of culturally appropriate emergency food continues to be a problem for some of our most vulnerable community members, meaning survivors of domestic violence, undocumented people, and others don’t have access to food that meets their dietary and cultural needs. Sapna NYC is grateful to be partnering with Comptroller Lander and Islamic Relief USA to bring halal meals to our community in the Bronx, ensuring that during this holy month they can focus on the spiritual and not worry about putting food on the table. These food distributions also allow us to connect with community members to serve them in other ways, be it SNAP applications, COVID vaccines, or mental health counseling,” said Diya Basu-Sen, Executive Director of Sapna NYC. 

“The Gambian Youth Organization is located in the 15th congressional district in the Bronx, which has the highest amount of food insecurity for children. With our years battling against food insecurity, we know there is a need to provide families with nutritional meals, especially in the month of Ramadan where families gather to break their fast. No family should have to go a day without a nutritional meal. We are extremely excited to partner up with Islamic Relief USA and the NYC Comptroller’s office for this year’s Iftar on the Go initiative, which allows us to give back to our community on a greater scale, and continue our fight against food insecurity,” said Salim Drammeh, President of the Gambian Youth Organization. 

“We are so happy to be participating in the Iftar-on-the-Go program for the second year in a row with the NYC Comptroller’s office and Islamic Relief USA. This program acknowledges religious diversity and food insecurity both at once during the month of Ramadan – a wonderful way to bring communities together,” said Lamiya Khandaker, Project Manager at Majlis Ash-Shura: Islamic Leadership Council of New York. 

“I would like to thank NYC Comptroller Brad Lander and Islamic Relief USA for providing the help and support to Muslim New Yorkers during the Holy Month of Ramadan and making “Iftar On The Go” more easily accessible to low-income New Yorkers through partnership with local community-based organizations. We are in the 3rd year of COVID-19 pandemic and thousands of families are still recovering from the hardships and financial challenges. During this unprecedented time of their lives, they must decide how to deal with food insecurities, health challenges and meeting the daily living expenses. By providing them religiously and culturally appropriate food during the holy month of Ramadan, we are working together for more just and equitable New York City for every New Yorker,” said Erum Hanif, Chief Executive Officer at Apna Brooklyn Community Center.

“The Holy month of Ramadan is around the corner. Food insecurity has been exponentially growing with COVID-19 Pandemic.  We are very grateful for Iftar on the Go offered by Islamic Relief USA and the NYC City Comptroller Brad Lander. The community needs it especially in this particular momentAllah bless us with more to come!” said Djeneba Toure-Diaby, CEO at Zeina Lorraine Inc. Community Food Pantry.

Iftar on the Go halal meal distribution locations and dates are available below:


Partners: Islamic Relief USA & Majlis Ash-Shura Islamic Leadership Council of New York
Location: 35-13 23rd Avenue, Astoria, Queens, NY 11105


  • Thursday, April 07 at 6:30 PM
  • Thursday, April 14 at 6:30 PM
  • Thursday, April 21 at 6:30 PM
  • Thursday, April 28 at 6:30 PM


Partners:  Islamic Relief USA & Zeina Lorraine Inc. Community Food Pantry
Location: 203 W 133 Street, New York, NY 10030


  • Thursday, April 07 at 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, April 14 at 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, April 21 at 11:00 AM
  • Thursday, April 28 at 11:00 AM

Partners: Islamic Relief USA & Food Bank for NYC
Location: Community Kitchen and Food Pantry, 252 West 116th Street. New York, NY 10026


  • Thursday, April 07 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 14 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 21 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 28 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM


Partners: Islamic Relief USA & Majlis Ash-Shura Islamic Leadership Council of New York
Location:  722 Church Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11218


  • Monday, April 04 at 7:33 PM
  • Monday, April 11 at 7:41 PM
  • Monday, April 18 at 7:48 PM
  • Monday, April 25 at 7:55 PM

Partners: Islamic Relief USA & APNA Brooklyn Community Center
Location:  225 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11235


  • Wednesday, April 06 at 2:00 PM
  • Wednesday, April 13 at 2:00 PM
  • Wednesday, April 20 at 2:00 PM
  • Wednesday, April 27 at 2:00 PM

Staten Island

Partners: Islamic Relief USA & Bait-ul Jammat – House of Community
Location: 192 Corson Avenue, Staten Island, NY 10314


  • Wednesday, April 06 at 10:00 AM
  • Wednesday, April 13 at 10:00 AM
  • Wednesday, April 20 at 10:00 AM
  • Wednesday, April 27 at 10:00 AM


Partners: Islamic Relief USA & SAPNA NYC
Location:  2348 Waterbury Ave, 1st Floor, Bronx, NY 10462


  • Friday, April 08 at 3:00 PM
  • Friday, April 15 at 3:00 PM
  • Friday, April 22 at 3:00 PM
  • Friday, April 29 at 3:00 PM

Partners: Islamic Relief USA & Gambian Youth Organization
Location:  2252 Webster Avenue, Bronx, NY 10457


  • Thursday, April 07 at 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 14 at 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 21 at 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, April 28 at 7:00 PM

Attorney General James Warns Hate Group to Immediately Stop Spying on Muslim Communities


AG James Takes Action to Support Muslim Communities on Eve of Ramadan    

Calls on DOJ to Investigate Investigative Project on Terrorism for Federal Criminal and Civil Rights Violations    

 Warns Against Discriminatory Action Targeting Communities 

 On the eve of Ramadan, New York Attorney General Letitia James warned a known anti-Muslim hate group to stop spying on Muslim communities. Attorney General James sent a cease-and-desist letter to Steven Emerson and the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT) directing them to immediately stop any unlawful and discriminatory surveillance they may be conducting on Muslim communities in New York. The action follows reports that IPT paid informants and infiltrators for over a decade to spy on Muslim houses of worship, Muslim advocacy groups, and prominent Muslim leaders — blatant violations of their civil rights. Attorney General James also issued a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), requesting an investigation into IPT’s possible violations of federal criminal and civil rights laws. As a charity that operates in New York, IPT is required to follow state laws, and is subject to enforcement by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). Furthermore, Attorney General James warned against any discriminatory action targeting communities.  

“As we enter the holy month of Ramadan, it’s more important than ever that we show our support for our Muslim communities and stand up to Islamophobia and hate of any and every kind,” said Attorney General James. “Let me be clear: We will not bow to hate, we will not enable bias, and we will not empower Islamophobia. I urge DOJ to stand with us and use its considerable power to protect Muslim communities throughout New York and across the nation. Our constitution protects the rights of all communities to live without harassment or intimidation; we will remain vigilant in the protection of these rights.”

In December 2021, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) revealed that for more than a decade, IPT paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to spies in order to gain access to Muslim organizations and leaderships to record confidential conversations and documents. Most notably, IPT reportedly infiltrated the Ohio chapter of CAIR, through its then-leader, Romin Iqbal, who leaked confidential documents and recordings. In another undercover operation, IPT paid more than $100,000 to Tariq Nelson to spy on members of a mosque in Virginia and record privileged conversations without other participants’ knowledge.   

The documents and recordings collected by IPT include a 2010 meeting of national Muslim leaders discussing the negative responses to the proposed Islamic center near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan, and a 2015 discussion of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric. Public statements from those involved in the operation suggest that IPT targeted the organizations and individuals in a concerted effort to infringe on the rights of Muslims, including their right to worship, peacefully assemble and organize politically, petition the government, and to vote.   

In her letter to IPT, Attorney General James warns the organization that its actions could violate state and federal laws. New York Civil Rights Law prohibits discrimination or harassment against an individual exercising their civil rights on the basis of creed and prohibits the intimidation of an individual on the basis of their religion or religious practice. Attorney General James is immediately requiring IPT to:   

  • Cease and desist any ongoing or contemplated unlawful espionage operations against Muslims and Muslim organizations within the state of New York;
  • Cease and desist from any further discriminatory activities against Muslims in New York; and
  • Fully comply with the requirements of the New York Civil Rights Law and all other applicable state and federal statutes.          

In a coinciding letter to DOJ, Attorney General James urged the Biden Administration to launch an investigation into IPT for violations of federal criminal and civil rights law. Attorney General James maintains that although OAG stands ready to enforce New York state civil rights law, a DOJ investigation into IPT’s possible violations of federal law would send the message that the federal government will also use its powers to protect Muslims’ rights.