Category Archives: activism

Community Control Over Police Surveillance Effort Launches with First Wave of Legislation in 11 Cities

Community Control Over Police Surveillance Effort Launches with First Wave of Legislation in 11 Cities

NEW YORK — Local officials in 11 cities announced today that they are launching legislative efforts to bring transparency to the acquisition and use of local police surveillance technologies for the first time. The measures include mandating explicit city council approval and a public hearing process that maximizes community input into surveillance technology decisions. This locally-led, multi-city effort was developed in partnership with 17 highly-diverse national partner organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Campaign Zero, and the Tenth Amendment Center.

In the rare cases where local police data has been available to the public — in cities like Baltimore, MarylandOakland, California; and Lansing, Michigan — the data has shown a disproportionate use of surveillance technologies in communities of color and low-income areas. The partner organizations have created a set of guiding principles to assist community groups in changing surveillance practices. The principles aim to promote transparency, democratic decision making, and community empowerment with respect to if and how surveillance technologies are funded, acquired, and used.

01.) Predictive policing software uses mathematical and analytical techniques to attempt to predict future criminal activity, offenders, and victims. Historically biased data is input into an algorithm of unknown accuracy, which produces biased results that will only continue the trend of over-policing communities of color and low-income communities.

The first wave of cities announcing legislative efforts today are:

Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Madison, Wisconsin
Miami Beach, Florida
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Muskegon, Michigan
New York, New York
Palo Alto, California
Pensacola, Florida
Richmond, Virginia
Seattle, Washington
Washington, D.C.

“The use of surveillance by local police has been spreading unchecked across the country without regard for the communities that they purport to serve,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Today communities and their local elected officials are taking action to address the disparate impact, financial burden, and threats to civil rights and liberties posed by invasive surveillance technologies.”

02.) Biometric technologies allow you to be identified and tracked using a physical trait, run against DMV, social network, and other databases. Technological limitations and biased engineering practices can lead to false-positives, especially amongst people of color, which results in innocent people unjustifiably drawing the attention of law enforcement.

“Local police surveillance technologies, which are disproportionately focused on African Americans and other people of color, are hurting our communities and undercutting the trust necessary for law enforcement to be effective. These technologies are invading our public spaces and creating a culture of fear,” said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and its senior vice president for advocacy and policy. “We need to maximize the active engagement and influence our local communities have over surveillance technology decision-making. This first wave of legislative efforts being taken today across the country is a critical first step to moving local surveillance out of the shadows, ensuring transparency and accountability, and protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

“People of color have long been the targets of government surveillance — but today’s technology makes it more concerning than ever,” said Alvaro Bedoya, founder and executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law Center. “Communities are being confronted with the very real possibility that law enforcement is tracking them wherever they go — at work, school, places of worship and political gatherings. People need to feel safe in their neighborhoods, and this new effort is an important step in the process of taking back control.”

03.) Aerial view of Baltimore from Persistent Surveillance’s Cessna aircraft. | Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek

This surge of legislative action, which is expected to be replicated in an increasing number of cities across the nation, is guided by the following principles:

  1. Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without express city council approval.
  2. Local communities should play a significant and meaningful role in determining if and how surveillance technologies are funded, acquired, or used.
  3. The process for considering the use of surveillance technologies should be transparent and well-informed.
  4. The use of surveillance technologies should not be approved generally; approvals, if provided, should be for specific technologies and specific, limited uses.
  5. Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without addressing their potential impact on civil rights and civil liberties.
  6. Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without considering their financial impact.
  7. To verify legal compliance, surveillance technology use and deployment data should be reported publically on an annual basis.
  8. City council approval should be required for all surveillance technologies and uses; there should be no “grandfathering” for technologies currently in use.

The national partners in this effort are:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation
Campaign Zero
Center for Democracy & Technology
Center for Popular Democracy
Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Crypto Harlem
Demand Progress
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fight for the Future
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Million Hoodies Movement for Justice
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
National Network of Arab American Communities
Restore the Fourth
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Tenth Amendment Center

Additional resources and information can be found here: www.communityCTRL.com

Joseph Buddenberg Sentenced to 2 Years in Federal Prison in Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Case

Joseph Buddenberg Sentenced to 2 Years in Federal Prison in Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act Case

San Diego, CA — This morning in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Joseph Buddenberg was sentenced to two years in federal prison for Conspiracy to Violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act. The sentencing follows his signing a non-cooperating plea agreement in which he plead guilty to conspiring to free thousands of animals from fur farms throughout the U.S. and to cause damage to businesses associated with the fur industry.

State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez Loses Re-Election After Tireless Campaigning from Chicago’s Black Youth

State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez Loses Re-Election After Tireless Campaigning from Chicago’s Black Youth

Chicago, IL — The following is a statement from Assata’s Daughters on their victory in #ByeAnita campaign:


“Chicago Black youth have kicked Anita Alvarez out of office. Just a month ago, Anita Alvarez was winning in the polls. Communities who refuse to be killed, jailed, and abused without any chance at justice refused to allow her to be re-elected as State’s Attorney.  


“We did this for Rekia… 

“We did this for Laquan… 

“We won’t stop until we’re free and Kim Foxx should know that as well.”

About Assata’s Daughters
Assata’s Daughters is an intergenerational collective of Black women and girls. This demographic represents both the largest growing prison population and those leading protests against state violence in Chicago.

Black Chicago Activists Fly ‘Chicago Stands with Laquan, Hillary Stands with Rahm’ Banners Across City Skyline

Black Chicago Activists Fly ‘Chicago Stands with Laquan, Hillary Stands with Rahm’ Banners Across City Skyline

Chicago, IL — This afternoon, as primary voting is underway in Illinois, airplanes are flying across the Chicago skyline towing banners linking Hillary Clinton with unpopular Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez, with whom Emanuel covered up the 2014 Chicago PD’s killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald while campaigning for his own re-election.  The arial banners read

Chicago Stands with Laquan, Hillary Stands with Rahm — #ByeAnita #ByeRahm

“Tell me who you know, and I’ll tell you who you are,” said Tess Raser, an organizer with Assata’a Daughters, the group coordinating today’s banner actions. “To this day, Hillary Clinton has yet to condemn Chicago’s anti-black mayor. Mayor Emmanuel has conspired with State’s Attorney Alvarez during his own re-election campaign to cover up the police murder of Laquan McDonald —a life that to Emmanuel, Alvarez, and Clinton did not matter.  Any politician who supports Emanuel should consider themselves implicated in his misconduct. Anti-black politicians are not welcome in Chicago whether they are running for State’s Attorney or President of The United States.

“Yesterday we dropped 16 banners calling for Anita Alvarez to be ousted from office. 16 banners for the 16 shots CPD fired that killed Laquan McDonald. It took moments for CPD to steal Laquan’s life and nearly a year before evidence of that moment would surface. Anita Alvarez has cosigned on CPD’s wanton disregard for Black life and has conspired to suppress evidence of this disregard. Anita Alvarez does not care about Black people, and she must go.”

Photos and Video will be made available HERE

About Assata’s Daughters
Assata’s Daughters is an intergenerational collective of Black women and girls. This demographic represents both the largest growing prison population and those leading protests against state violence in Chicago.

Imprisoned ‘Guantanamo Diary’ Author Granted Periodic Review Board Hearing

Imprisoned ‘Guantanamo Diary’ Author Granted Periodic Review Board Hearing

New York, NY — The American Civil Liberties Union announced today that a Periodic Review Board hearing has been scheduled for June 2 to review the detention of Guantánamo prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi.

Slahi’s deeply personal memoir, “Guantánamo Diary,” climbed to the top of The New York Times bestseller list last year and has been translated and published in more than 25 countries. The Mauritanian citizen has been imprisoned since 2002, but the U.S. government has never charged him with a crime.

An online petition demanding Slahi’s release has gathered nearly 50,000 signatures.

“Mohamedou Slahi will finally get the hearing that President Obama ordered five years ago and that Mohamedou has sought for years, including fighting for it in court,” said Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU National Security Project.“More than anything, Mohamedou wants to show the board that he poses no threat to the United States and should be allowed to return home to his family where he belongs.”

The PRBs, as they are known, assess whether a Guantanamo prisoner’s ongoing detention is justified or not, based on whether he presents a significant security threat to the United States. They include officials from the military and intelligence communities, as well as the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, and State. President Obama created the process in 2011 and ordered it completed within a year, but it took two years for the first hearing. Since then, the boards have cleared for release 19 out of the 22 detainees for whom it has issued decisions.

“After being detained for 14 years without charge, Mohamedou has in many ways become the poster child of the US government’s program of indefinite detention.,said Nancy Hollander, one of Slahi’s attorneys. “Despite the conditions of his detention, Mohamedou’s spirit and kind nature has shone light into some of the darkest corners of Guantánamo’s detention camp and his book has helped people all over the world see the deeply human side of what has come to seem like an unending cycle of conflict and injustice.”

PRBs are different from, and do not substitute for, habeas review in federal court, which determines whether detention is lawful. In 2010, the federal district court judge in Slahi’s habeas case ordered him released, but the Obama administration successfully appealed. The case was sent back to the district court where it is now awaiting further action.

Lt. Col. Stuart Couch, refused to prosecute Mohamedou after determining that the U.S. military extracted statements from him by torture. And the former chief prosecutor for the Guantánamo military commissions, Col. Morris Davis, has said that he was unable to find any evidence that Slahi had engaged in any acts of hostility against the United States.

Slahi was born in Mauritania in 1970 and won a scholarship to attend college in Germany. In the early 1990s, Slahi fought with the mujahidin in Afghanistan when they were part of the Afghan anti-communist resistance that included al-Qaeda and were supported by the U.S. The federal judge who reviewed all the evidence in his case noted that the group then was very different from the one that later came into existence. He worked in Germany for several years as an engineer and returned to Mauritania in 2000. The following year, at the behest of the U.S., he was detained by Mauritanian authorities and rendered to a prison in Jordan. Later he was rendered again, first to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan and finally, in August 2002, to the U.S. prison at Guantánamo, where he was subjected to severe torture.

Slahi was one of two so-called “Special Projects” whose treatment then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld personally approved. The abuse included beatings, extreme isolation, sleep deprivation, sexual molestation, frigid rooms, shackling in stress positions, and death threats. He was also told that his mother was being arrested and brought to Guantanamo.

Slahi’s book, Guantánamo Diary, the first and only memoir by a still-imprisoned Guantánamo detainee, was published from a 466-page handwritten manuscript. In January 2015, after a years-long battle with government censors, the book was released with over 2,500 government redactions.

Book excerpts and video and audio content can be found at: http://www.Guantánamodiary.com 

More information is at: https://www.aclu.org/feature/free-mohamedou-slahi