Tlaib Statement on Detroit City Council Vote to Extend Facial Recognition Contract

Sep 29, 2020

DETROITCongresswoman Rashida Tlaib (MI-13) released the following statement on the Detroit City Council’s 6-3 vote to renew the city’s facial recognition technology contract, which expired in July, for an additional two years:

“Today’s Detroit City Council vote approving a contract that will allow for the continued use of racist facial recognition technology ignores the voices of Detroiters who have been calling for racial justice, real community safety, and real accountability for the Detroit Police Department. I applaud Council President Jones, Council President Pro Tem Sheffield, and Councilmember Castañeda-López for their votes against facial recognition and with the people, and look forward to continuing to work alongside Councilmembers and my colleagues in Congress to protect Detroiters and all people from this racist technology. 

“The public spoke overwhelmingly against facial recognition. It’s disappointing that their voices were ignored with today’s vote. No matter the spin DPD employs, the fact remains that this racist technology, with an unconscionable error rate for Black and brown faces, has already been used to ruin the lives of two innocent men and their families—that we know of . Those two lives alone are more than enough to conclude this technology has no place in Detroit. DPD cannot point credibly to any increase in public safety due to the use of facial recognition technology, and yet the Council has renewed its use in perpetuity, inherently accepting innocent lives ruined as collateral damage.

“Violent crime has risen this year despite the use of facial recognition and cooperation with federal law enforcement under the impeached President’s direction. We all want to live in safe communities free of fear and violence, and we should listen to the people in our communities who are telling us the current approach of DPD is not delivering them the safety they deserve. Instead of spending more money on surveillance, we should be rethinking our approach to community safety, investing in fighting poverty with better paying jobs, secure and affordable housing, and health care for our residents. 

“Today’s vote doubles down on faulty, racist technology that has already ruined lives. So we must double down on our own commitment to banning facial recognition in Detroit and working towards real safety in all of our communities. I am committed to continuing the effort to ban facial recognition technology on the federal level—we cannot ignore the facts and we cannot ignore what residents are demanding.”

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