In the coming weeks, the Los Angeles City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti could push forward a harmful program that targets and surveils Muslim communities. The federal government's Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program operates under the guise of "community-led" efforts to prevent violent extremism, but ends up targeting and criminalizing Muslims specifically.
That's why Muslim communities around the country—from Boston to Minneapolis—have rejected CVE funding.
Last week, the Public Safety Committee passed the CVE resolution—sending it to a vote before the entire City Council in the coming weeks. However, our coalition turned out 50 folks to the meeting voicing their concerns in public comment. The committee acknowledged the concerns of the community, and as a result, it stipulated a quarterly public report of the program.
Los Angeles was one of only three cities selected by the federal government in 2015 for the CVE program. The city created the "LA Framework for CVE" in private, unpublicized collaboration with law enforcement and a handful of Muslim organizations.
The vast majority of local Muslim organizations and community members were never consulted.
If they had been, the city would have heard the concerns we have about how CVE programs single out Muslims for surveillance and scrutiny, and breed mistrust within community—when we all know, that type of violence exists in many communities throughout the U.S.
When the CVE program was started by the Obama administration, it already had a disproportionate focus on Muslim communities. Under Trump, the administration has removed any pretense that this isn't an anti-Muslim program.
Last year, DHS revoked CVE funds from the sole recipient that was focused on fighting white supremacy1—even though reports show that white supremacists are responsible for more extremist deaths than any other group.2
LA should be taking cues from the communities that will be impacted by this program—not following the lead of Homeland Security and the Trump administration.
1. "Controversial Trump Aide Katharine Gorka Helped End Funding For Group That Fights White Supremacy," Huffington Post, Aug 15, 2017
2. "White supremacists responsible for most extremist killings in 2017, ADL says," CNN, Jan 17, 2017