A day after the terror attacks in Brussels, Ted Cruz stood by his calls for heavy police surveillance of Muslim communities in the United States.
Speaking at a New York hotel, he got wild cheers when he slammed New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for opposing his proposal.
“Mayor de Blasio is very, very unhappy with me because i said we should empower law enforcement to stop radical islamic terrorism,” Mr Cruz said at a political rally. “The mayor’s response is ‘who are the terrorist of which you speak.’”
When asked about how he would act to prevent terror attacks like Tuesday’s attack in Brussels that left 31 dead and more than 200 injured, Mr Cruz said US Muslim neighborhoods should be monitored much more closely.
“We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized,” he said. “We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy Isis.”
The senator from Texas did not expand on his plan to monitor US Muslims, but he did say why he wants to increase surveillance.
“I will say something to the mayor,” he said about Mr de Blasio, before referring to an incident last year when officers turned away from the mayor at the funeral for fellow officers. “Given a choice between terrorists and criminals on one side and the brave men and women in law enforcement, I will stand with law enforcement every time.
“When the heroes of the NYPD stood up and turned their backs on Mayor de Blasio, they spoke not just of the men and women of New York, but for the men and women all across this nation.”
Those harsh remarks from Mr Cruz came after both the mayor and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton condemned the senator’s surveillance plan.
Mr Bratton slammed Mr Cruz for his comments on Muslims, saying he took “great offense” from them.
“The statements he made today is why he's not going to become president of this country,” Mr Bratton said. “We don't need a president that doesn't respect the values that form the foundation of this country.”
In 2012, the New York Police Department acknowledged that such surveillance did not lead to any terror investigations. Police weren't able to find a single lead.
“I never made a lead from rhetoric that came from a Demographics report, and I'm here since 2006,” said NYPD Assistant Chief Thomas Gulati in an Associated Press report. The Demographics Unit was the secret team that spied on Muslims communities in the city.
Mayor de Blasio ended the surveillance after he took office in 2014. Earlier this year, the NYPD settled two cases related to the surveillance.
“I just have to say it's reprehensible. His comments are not about safety and security. It's demagoguery,” Mr de Blasio said yesterday.
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