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Friday, February 16, 2007

Police Surveillance Videos

One thing that has particularly scared me since I saw a piece on Indymedia about it is the idea that since September 11, the police have videotaped people at non-violent rallies, marches, etc. In the piece, footage from Police archives showed civilians being zoomed in on, with police indicating those they considered to be leaders in particular. Why were these people being videotaped? The Indymedia piece was suggesting that these people were being documented, for speaking out against the government, as targets to be eliminated. The video showed many of these targets being physically attacked thereafter, and/or arrested, unprovoked.

This is a scary thing that New York is doing something about, and I'm glad. From the article/BoingBoing:

"In a rebuke of a surveillance practice greatly expanded by the New York Police Department after the Sept. 11 attacks, a federal judge ruled yesterday that the police must stop the routine videotaping of people at public gatherings unless there is an indication that unlawful activity may occur.

Four years ago, at the request of the city, the same judge, Charles S. Haight Jr., gave the police greater authority to investigate political, social and religious groups.

In yesterday’s ruling, Judge Haight, of United States District Court in Manhattan, found that by videotaping people who were exercising their right to free speech and breaking no laws, the Police Department had ignored the milder limits he had imposed on it in 2003."

I was pretty happy to hear this. In My Opinion, surveillance is a very dangerous thing when it is used to target nonviolent and liberally-minded citizens. The police, we must always remember, are meant to keep the peace and meant to keep us safe. There is a fine, somewhat blurred line, between keeping us safe and keeping us under control.

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