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National Muslim-led coalition says no to Department of Homeland Security grants

Photo: Larry Gindhart / AFSC

BOSTON/CHICAGO/SAN FRANCISCO/LOS ANGELES (May 19, 2020) On May 19, the Muslim-led National Stop-CVE coalition will host a national day of action to discourage community groups and law enforcement agencies from applying for Department of Homeland Security grants that target and criminalize the Muslim community.

The grants are part of the new Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) program, which is a relaunch of the controversial Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) program. CVE was vigorously opposed by community and civil rights organizations across the country. CVE and TVTP train teachers, mental health care workers, imams and others to use faulty social science and racialized indicators to identify those who are supposedly vulnerable to “radicalization,” resulting in the targeting of vulnerable Muslims by law enforcement. For organizations urgently seeking to free people from incarceration during this pandemic, CVE programs like TVTP further entangle our Black and Muslim communities in carceral systems.

The National StopCVE coalition has launched a nationwide Ramadan campaign to discourage organizations who have previously participated in CVE from applying to this new iteration. The coalition will continue to engage community members beyond Ramadan, building upon five years of community resistance to CVE.

WHO: National StopCVE coalition and partners including:  Muslim Justice League, Palestinian Youth Movement, MPower Change, Believers Bail Out, Muslim Advocates, Council on American Islamic Relations, MSA West, StopCVE Chicago,  Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus,  American Friends Service Committee, and Defending Rights and Dissent

WHAT:  National Day of Action against TVTP grants

WHERE: Social media, follow #StopCVE, #EndTVTP

WHEN: May 19, 2020

This new iteration of CVE is an $80 million program with another round of $10 million in grants, replicating the 2016 CVE grants that spread across the country.

“Instead of funding schools, hospitals, and public infrastructure in the midst of a pandemic, the federal government is allocating $80 million of our tax money to target Muslim communities,” says Fatema Ahmad, Executive Director of the Muslim Justice League and coordinator of the StopCVE Coalition.

The National StopCVE coalition has launched a nationwide Ramadan campaign to discourage organizations who have previously participated in CVE from applying to this new iteration. The coalition will continue to engage community members beyond Ramadan, building upon five years of community resistance to CVE.

“In Chicago, community members will be calling the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Center – a former CVE grant recipient – to demand they refuse to participate in these racist TVTP grants that create a culture of suspicion by encouraging trusted community members to inform on others,” says Mary Zerkel, Coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee’s Communities Against Islamophobia program, part of the StopCVE Coalition-Chicago.

The coalition will also target other law enforcement agencies, including the Boston Police Department, Alameda County Sheriff’s Department, and the Los Angeles Police Department.

"Any program, regardless of how well-intentioned, if conceived with CVE as a primary or secondary factor in its conception, planning, or execution, immediately loses all credibility because it securitizes the services offered and treats its beneficiaries as potential threats," said Council on American-Islamic Relations Government Affairs Director Robert S. McCaw.

“While this is an unusually difficult Ramadan for many of us, it is heartening to see us come together in resisting this abusive program, says Ahmad. “Though the CVE framework is meant to divide us, we are building stronger communities that can provide for ourselves without relying on these discriminatory programs.”

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The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice.

The Muslim Justice League organizes and advocates for communities whose rights are threatened under the national security state in the United States.

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