The New York Police Department kept secret files on businesses owned by second- and third-generation Americans specifically because they were Muslims, according to newly obtained documents that spell out in the clearest terms yet that police were monitoring people based on religion.

The NYPD has faced intense criticism from Muslims, lawmakers and even the FBI for widespread spying operations that put entire neighborhoods under surveillance. Police put the names of innocent people in secret files and monitored the mosques, student groups and businesses that make up the Muslim landscape of the northeastern U.S.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has defended his department’s efforts, saying they have kept the city safe, were completely legal and were not based on religion.

“We don’t stop to think about the religion,” Bloomberg said at a news conference in August after the Associated Press began revealing the spying. “We stop to think about the threats and focus our efforts there.”

Continue Reading on www.usatoday.com