The New York Civil Liberties Union Central New York Chapter today denounced the decision by the New York Tactical Officers’ Association to feature a keynote speaker at its annual expo who has been labeled an "extremist" and "anti-Muslim” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Nearly 800 law enforcement officers from New York and surrounding areas reportedly attend the annual expo in Verona, where they receive training and advice on police strategies and equipment. This year’s keynote speaker, Ryan Mauro, is a senior employee of the Clarion Project, the group that created the notoriously discriminatory movie “The Third Jihad,” which was once used to train NYPD officers.

“A training session that nearly 800 law enforcement officers have access to is an important matter, and spotlighting a representative of the Clarion Project is harmful to promoting common sense law enforcement,” said Yusuf Abdul-Qadir, director of the NYCLU’s Central New York Chapter. “The Clarion Project is responsible for producing the widely discredited training movie ‘The Third Jihad,’ a tremendous source of misinformation that fostered discriminatory attitudes toward New York City’s Muslim population. New Yorkers across the state are right to question the legitimacy and value of a police training expo that places a Clarion representative in such a prominent position.”

“We also call into question banning of media from attending this expo where manufacturers showcase and sell certain highly intrusive law enforcement technologies. New Yorkers have raised serious concerns about being kept in the dark over the use of military grade surveillance technology in their local neighborhoods. It’s time to lift the veil of secrecy: Police departments should be wholly transparent about using technology that could significantly intrude upon people’s privacy.”