The history of surveillance of Black and Brown people goes back to the time of slavery and still continues today.
We know that cities around the country have engaged in surveillance tactics against Black Lives Matter protesters. In Boston, Memphis and New York City, we’re seeing emails and other documents that show that they have used social media to surveil Black Lives Matter Activists, and the FBI is using surveillance tactics to identify and surveil what they’ve deemed “Black identity extremists,” people who are generally engaging in free speech, First Amendment protected activity, including black activists who are part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
When we see governments including the FBI and local governments employing surveillance techniques, we know that Black and Brown communities are more likely to be targeted and are more likely to suffer consequences, including being arrested, being detained and even being killed.
Stopping law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology is one step that we can take. It won’t stop systemic racism, but it will take one powerful tool away from the institutions that surveil Black and Brown communities.