L.A. police drop controversial Muslim mapping plan
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Police have abandoned a controversial plan to "map" Los Angeles' Muslim community as part of their efforts to counter terrorism, the Los Angeles Police Department chief William Bratton said on Thursday.
Bratton said the plan was scrapped after outrage from Muslims and civil rights organizations who had described it as "just as unlawful, ill-advised and deeply offensive as racial profiling."
"It's actually been scrapped," Bratton told KTLA television in an interview. "The Muslim community has made it quite clear over the past week ... that they really felt that it was inappropriate."
News of the plan broke last month when Michael Dowling, head of the LAPD's counterterrorism bureau, testified before the U.S. Senate.
Dowling described the plan as an "attempt to mitigate radicalization" in the second largest U.S. city, whose world class theme parks and Hollywood industry make it a potential target for a major attack.
Dowling said he hoped the mapping plan would "identify (Muslim) communities ... which may be susceptible to violent ideologically based extremism."
The U.S. Census Bureau is barred from asking people their religious affiliation, which makes it difficult to estimate the size or location of Muslim communities.
The Southern California Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a number of Los Angeles Muslim groups wrote protest letters to the LAPD.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa described the mapping plan as "well-intentioned" but said it had created "a level of fear and apprehension that made it counterproductive."
The ACLU welcomed the scrapping of the plan but said it would keep a close eye on the LAPD to ensure it was not repackaged in some other form.
The Muslim Public Affairs Council also expressed relief. "All Muslim organizations are united in purpose to defend the rights of Muslim-Americans while developing a positive and constructive relationship with the LAPD," the group's executive director, Salam Al-Marayati, said in a statement.
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