Sen. Ted Cruz's controversial proposal that "patrols" should monitor "Muslim neighborhoods" in the United States the aftermath of terror attacks in Belgium has been condemned on both sides of the political aisle, and on Tuesday, New York Police Department commissioner William Bratton added his voice to the chorus.
Bratton, flanked by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who had previously called Cruz's remarks "reprehensible" and example of "demagoguery," told reporters that "the statements he made today is why he’s not going to become president of this country."
“We don’t need a president that doesn’t respect the values that form the foundation of this country,” Bratton added. "As the mayor mentioned, I have over 900 very dedicated officers in this department, many of whom do double duty, and they serve as active duty members of the U.S. Military in combat, something the senator has never seen,” referring to the fact that Cruz has no military experience.
“So before he starts denigrating any population, he should take a close look at who he’s denigrating,” Bratton said. This is not the first time Cruz has provoked the ire of many New Yorkers. In January, Cruz suffered a barrage of bad press in the Big Apple, after he took aim at what he called "New York values."
The NYPD has attempted to procure intelligence by secretly monitoring Muslim enclaves in the past, a practice defended by then-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But doing so yielded little success, according to the Associated Press. They report that in six years of broad surveillance, the so-called Demographics Unit "never generated a lead or triggered a terrorism investigation."
Meanwhile, when reports of the program surfaced, first revealed as part of a Pulitzer prize-winning investigation by the AP, it was met with strong rebuke from the Muslim community and led to a discrimination lawsuit against the city which was ultimately dismissed in 2014. However, the appellate court revived it last fall and two additional lawsuits led to settlement from the NYPD this January.
Bratton, who was appointed by de Blasio, oversaw the decision to abandon the program.
Later on Tuesday, Cruz doubled down on his earlier statements, arguing that it's "standard" police procedure to infiltrate communities overrun with gang activity, and that the same tactics should be applied to areas where radicalization may be taking hold. "Political correctness costs lives," he added.
However, Cruz did not offer clarity about how he would define a "Muslim neighborhood," or how he could pre-emptively engage communities "before they become radicalized" as he suggested during an earlier appearance on CNN.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, said Cruz's remarks send "an alarming message to American-Muslims who increasingly fear for their future and to all Americans who value the Constitution and religious liberties."
In an interview with NBC News, Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for CAIR, compared Cruz's comments to "the dark days of the 1930s" in Europe and "the interment of Japanese-Americans" in the 1940s. "What is a Muslim neighborhood? How many Muslims have to be in a neighborhood before it becomes worthy of checking papers and kicking in the doors of homes and businesses?" he said. "What constitutes a Muslim neighborhood?"
Still, his plan wasn't opposed across the board. His 2016 rival Donald Trump, who spent much of Tuesday advocating for torture techniques to reinstated to combat threat of ISIS, called Cruz's patrol plan a "good idea" which he "100 percent" supports.
Ironically, in the past Cruz had been opposed to government surveillance. He backed the USA Freedom Act in the Senate, which curbed some of the NSA's reach under the Patriot Act. He had also previously opposed Trump's proposal to temporarily ban all Muslim emigration into the U.S., although he did propose legislation in the Senate calling for a three-year moratorium on refugees entering the country.
Cruz emerged triumphant in Tuesday's Utah caucuses and received the high profile endorsement of former 2016 candidate Jeb Bush early on Wednesday.