Sign the pledge: Say no to CVE in Chicago
As groups that represent, work with, and support Muslim communities from across Illinois, we know that the Muslim community is collectively facing challenges posed by various law enforcement agencies, such as surveillance and “anti-radicalization” efforts.[1] CVE, or Countering Violent Extremism, is a program created by the Department of Homeland Security, and is largely based upon the PREVENT program in the United Kingdom designed to “prevent domestic terrorism”.[2] The program disperses grants to community, and law enforcement organizations in exchange for information about individuals who are “vulnerable to radicalization”. This effectively turns trusted community leaders, including religious leaders, mental health professionals, counselors, and teachers into informants.[3] Their efforts are focused almost entirely on the Muslim community, but also threatens the African-American and Hispanic communities, and is very far-reaching.[4]

The results of this controversial program is startling. A key problem with CVE initiatives is that there is little to no evidence that someone is likely to become violent.[5] On the contrary, these programs are stigmatizing, ineffective and divisive.[6] In 2014, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced CVE pilot programs -allocating $10 million - in Boston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, and Montgomery County, Maryland.[7] As of April 2018, the National Governors Association has selected four new states with which to develop a "roadmap" to "prevent targeted violence"-- essentially, the implementation of state-wide CVE programs, one of which is Illinois. Even though the Illinois model seeks to correct the flaws of CVE through its public health model, this model still assumes that community members can identify individuals who exhibit early warning signs to radicalization to violence or who may be in the early stages of planning an act of ideologically-inspired targeted violence, despite the growing number of research studies that demonstrate that there are no proven indicators, early warning signs, and risk factors of radicalization. The Illinois program therefore relies on faulty science and reinforces the racial impetus behind targeted prevention paradigms. Moreover, the Illinois model is funded by a Department of Homeland Security CVE grant in addition to state funding.

Communities in Illinois can prevent these discriminating programs by taking proper action. To increase mutual trust, government agencies should reset engagement efforts with American Muslims to cover a broad range of issues, rather than focusing resources on contentious counterterrorism programs. Furthermore, counterterrorism and law enforcement officials should focus on what has been proven to work, rather than trying to identify pre-terrorists based on disproven criteria. Lastly, providing funds for social and educational programs should be conducted outside the counterterrorism and law enforcement umbrella, and include safeguards to prevent them from turning into vehicles for intelligence gathering.[8]

We, the undersigned group of stakeholders, call on the City of Chicago to cease all funding toward CVE efforts and all surveillance measures until measures requested are met.

1. Cora Currier and Murtaza Hussain. "Letter Details FBI Plan for Secretive Anti-Radicalization Committees." The Intercept. April 28, 2016.
2. Patel, Faiza, and Meghan Koushik. Countering Violent Extremism. Report. Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law. New York, NY: Brennan Center for Justice, 2017. 20. Center CVE Report.pdf.
3. "Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): A Resource Page | Brennan Center for Justice." America's Faulty Perception of Crime Rates | Brennan Center for Justice. February 12, 2015.
4. Patel and Koushik, 18.
5. Currier and Hussain.
6. Ibid
7. Patel, Faiza, and Meghan Koushik. "Countering Violent Extremism." Brennan Center for Justice. March 16, 2017.
8. ibid

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