February 21st, 2012 | City

Bloomberg criticizes Levin for NYPD remarks

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg walks with NYPD officers in the 2011 Veterans Day Parade.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg walks with NYPD officers in the 2011 Veterans Day Parade. Photo by Creative Commons.

On Monday, University President Richard Levin issued a statement calling the New York Police Department’s surveillance of Mulsim students at Yale “antithetical” to the values of the University.

But at a press conference on Tuesday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sharply criticized Levin’s comments, saying the New York Police Department’s surveillance helped “keep the country safe,” Capital New York reported.

“If going on websites and looking for information is not what Yale stands for, I don’t know,” Bloomberg said at a Tuesday press conference. “It’s the freedom of information … Of course we’re gonna look at anything that’s publicly available and in the public domain. We have an obligation to do so. And it is to protect the very things that let Yale survive.”

Over the weekend, an Associated Press report revealed that the NYPD routinely trawled the websites, blogs and forums of Muslim student associations at Yale, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, recording in reports sent to the police commissioner the names of students and professors involved in Muslim student associations.

Reporters at Brooklyn Public Library pushed Bloomberg on his defense of the surveillance, pointing to a case documented by the AP in which an undercover NYPD officer accompanied students on a rafting trip.

Bloomberg denied that such a move was a step too far, saying that the job of law enforcement is to “make sure that they prevent things,” a job that requires them not to stay away from “anything that smacks of intelligence gathering.”

When reporters asked him whether he was aware of the rafting trip, Bloomberg demurred and talked about his daughter.

“I’ve been on a white rafting trip,” he said. “I went down the Rogue River [in Oregon] with my daughter years ago. It’s the last time I went whitewater rafting or probably ever talked about it.”

The NYPD also monitored Muslim students associations at New York University, Rutgers University and Syracuse University.