Topic: Cops and Cameras
As organization dedicated both to police accountability and to defending political dissent, we are deeply disturbed by both the acquittal of the former police officer who killed Anthony Lamar Smith and police use of force against the protests in response to this acquittal.
Remember – It’s legal to #FilmThePolice and #CopWatch. Observing, documenting and filming police activity and abuse is a key tactic in holding police accountable.
Militarization of American police forces is becoming more and more common and, as a result of digital-age technologies and the use of smaller-scale surveillance cameras both publicly and privately, many people living in the United States today believe they have no privacy and, indeed, no right to expect privacy. They are misinformed.
The LASD is one the most militarized police departments in the world using massive amount of tactical weapons, and human and electronic surveillance technology. The addition of Drones would further signify the structural and operational formation of LASD as an occupying institution that operates as a counter-insurgency force.
The NYPD’s newly released body camera policy fails New Yorkers and police transparency – it won’t help address police brutality, abuses and unjust killings of New Yorkers.
Sessions has a long and documented history of opposing the rights of vulnerable populations, disregarding the First Amendment, and championing torture. As Attorney General, Sessions would be head of the department in charge of overseeing the protections of civil rights and the most powerful law enforcement in the nation. Given his historic hostility to civil liberties this is unacceptable. Sessions was rightfully rejected as a judicial nomination and should be similarly rejected for Attorney General.
In January, the Baltimore Police Department began a months-long partnership with an Ohio-based private company known as Persistent Surveillance Systems. Persistent Surveillance was hired to conduct hundreds of hours of aerial surveillance over the city of Baltimore using specialized cameras mounted to a Cessna that patrolled 32 square miles of the city.
Community leaders should press state and local agencies, and the FBI, to be fully transparent about how they use face recognition; if those agencies refuse, advocates should use state and federal Freedom of Information laws to take them to court. Advocates should also press city councils, state legislatures, and law enforcement for laws and use manuals that protect individual liberties and civil rights.
The response by North Dakota and Morton County to the Water Protectors highlights several very serious issues plaguing our country. It brings to the forefront the legacy of colonialism and racism, that has culminated in the disrespecting of the sovereignty of indigenous people, as well as, the use of state violence against those who try to retain their sovereignty. It is part of a larger trend of law enforcement viewing democracy as the enemy and responding to protest with military style gear and tactics. Finally, it demonstrates the willingness of the state to trample on dissent in order to defend corporate profits. “