Black Lives Matter Paterson Statement on the Use of Facial Recognition Software in New Jersey

February 14th, 2022
Black Lives Matter Paterson Press Release
Statement on the Use of Facial Recognition Software in New Jersey

Recently, the Acting Attorney General of New Jersey Andrew J. Bruck’s office released a statement asking for public input regarding the topic of Facial Recognition software being used for policing communities in the state. Informed by well-documented research that finds embedded biases present in facial recognition technology and the misuse of personal data by law enforcement across the country, we at Black Lives Matter Paterson unequivocally reject this latest attempt to expand the ever increasing surveillance and policing of our communities.

Numerous studies point to the inherent biases programmed into technologies, where people of color have significantly higher chances of being misidentified and subsequently criminalized. More so, without proper forms of accountability, expanding the surveillance and policing apparatus in our communities will only lead to a broader misuse of power. BLM Paterson is not the first to outright reject this technology, but joins a growing number of organizations and cities, including the city of San Francisco, which in 2019 banned the use of facial recognition by its police department.

As the nation enters its third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities are confronting difficult decisions on how to return to normal. Faced with increased inflation, a housing crisis, and crime, many of us, in a way of overcoming our vulnerable state, seek to grab onto quick solutions offered our way. Yet, instead of reacting on impulse, it is important to understand the roots of this violence. In line with numerous studies and extensive research, Black Lives Matter Paterson sees the increase in violence as a consequence of the ongoing pandemic that has exacerbated inequalities across various areas of our community. The proposed spending increase for new surveillance technologies in our communities means a decrease in spending for programs that can better serve our youth and community to more effectively address the roots of crime and poverty. Black Lives Matter Paterson continues to promote crime intervention services and community programs focused on providing opportunities for our youth to prosper and help transform our communities for the better.

Through our community outreach efforts, we continue to provide hands-on assistance, meet with community members and organizations, and develop assemblies and workshops to address the roots of crime and injustice in our city. We invite our political and community representatives to join us in the struggle for racial, gender, and economic justice. We call upon our political leaders to fund and support community-based programs that combat the structural roots of poverty instead of furthering the divide and mistrust in our communities by increasing police budgets. We ask our political representatives to learn the lessons that history has taught us about community safety: “The safest communities don’t have the most cops; they have the most resources.”

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