LOS ANGELES (Jun. 27)
A coalition of Arab American groups has filed $2.4 million in claims against law-enforcement agencies in Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, alleging that police and sheriff’s officers exchanged confidential information with the Anti-Defamation League.
The claims are a first step in anticipated invasion-of-privacy suits claiming that the officers swapped their confidential computer data on individuals and groups for intelligence gathered by ADL, an attorney for the Arab American coalition said.
“What we’re seeing here is pure political surveillance” for “purposes of dirty tricks, for disruption, for discrediting,” Abdeen Jabara, vice chairman of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said at a news conference here last Thursday.
Other plaintiffs are the National Association of Arab Americans and a group calling itself the American Federation of Ramallah, Palestine.
The Arab groups’ charges come in the wake of an investigation by the San Francisco Police Department into ADL’s information-gathering activities. While no charges have been lodged, the police suspect some of the activities were illegal.
But the Arab groups’ latest claims were labeled “totally ridiculous” by a spokesman for the San Diego Sheriff’s Department and denied by ADL officials in Los Angeles and New York.
“These specious allegations come as no surprise,” said David Lehrer, ADL regional director for Southern California. He pointed out that “most of the groups active in attacks on ADL and law-enforcement agencies have a long record of antipathy toward ADL and Israel.”
In New York, ADL National Chairman Melvin Salberg called the charges “a further effort to inhibit appropriate and legal cooperation with the ADL, a longtime valuable supporter of law enforcement in the fight against hate crimes and violence.”
Earlier last week, some 65 people demonstrated for 90 minutes outside the ADL office in Los Angeles, and other rallies were held in front of ADL offices in Washington and other cities across the country.