Boggs Center – Living for Change News – July 29th, 2019

July 29th, 2019

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Thinking for Ourselves

Duggan and Deceit
Shea Howell

The debate over increased surveillance in our city is not going to go away. Last week the Detroit City Council voted in a 6 to 3 split to allocate of $4 million for the expansion of DPD’s Real Time Crime Center and the development of two “mini” crime monitoring centers.The 8th and 9th precincts will receive new centers, for $2 million. Another $2 million will be used to upgrade the current Real Time Crime. Like the original $8 million used to set up the main center in Public Safety Headquarters, these efforts will be funded by bonds.

The decision to establish and expand these Centers is linked to the controversial use of facial recognition technologies. Increasingly the public is becoming skeptical of the Mayor and his motives.

Over the last few weeks the public debate has established that these technologies are racial biased. It has been made clear that there is no evidence that these technologies actually deter or solve crimes. As Free Press editor Nancy Kaffer observed, the questions surrounding the use of this facial recognition technologies are complex and “should cause any reasonable person to wonder why the Detroit Police Department has pushed forward with the controversial software, absent, for some portion of the period it has been in use, a departmental standard operating procedure, a policy directive approved by the board of Detroit Police Commissioners, satisfactory answers about how and when the software is to be used, its error rate, the implications for its combination with Detroit’s expanding Project Greenlight network of video cameras, or transparency with the residents the software is meant to either police or protect.”

This debate is also surfacing manipulative efforts flowing from the Mayor’s office. One clear technique the Mayor uses is to divide up the various programs he is putting together. Consider for example the lack of a full accounting of the cumulative public funds committed to creating this network of surveillance.

While still in the shadow of bankruptcy, in 2016, Duggan allocated $8 million to set up the first digital video surveillance center. This week he added $4 million. In 2017 he spent another million to contract with DataWorks, buying and implementing facial recognition technologies. Now he is planning a “Neighborhood Real Time Intelligence program setting up high definition surveillance cameras at traffic lights with a goal of establishing nearly 500 such cameras by 2020. The city will spend approximately $8.9 million in local and federal traffic signal modernization funds for the installation of the cameras. Aside from whether or not it will be legal to redirect federal funds for this, Duggan will have spent more than $21 million on a network of cameras without a single piece of evidence that it works. This is before the possible expanded contract with DataWorks. At a time when crime is going down nationally and locally why is the Mayor committing such vast expenditures of public money to this project?

The Mayor is dividing up more than the money. He is also hiding the extent of the network he is creating and his efforts to consolidate public support. In March of 2019 neighborhood groups began getting emailsfrom Duggan’s staff asking them to circulate petitions to support his multi-million dollar crime program linked to surveillance cameras. The email read: “In order to continue making Detroit a safe place to live, work, and play, we are asking you to gather signatures from your neighbors pledging support for the Neighborhood Real-Time Intelligence Program.” These cameras were described as extending the Project Green Light efforts and pitched as a crime fighting tool.

Now Duggan is running around trying to separate Project Green Light from Neighborhood surveillance, and both from facial recognition.

There are many ways for us to create safe, healthy, sustainable communities. But none of these are encouraged by Duggan. Instead his record is one of deceit and manipulation.
Let’s All Take Our Shoes Off
Frank Joyce

What an inspiration it was to attend the dedication of a statue of Viola Liuzzo this past Monday. It was one of those moments where the Beloved Community came together in real time.

Hundreds of people were there. Young, old, black white, etc. Most of Viola’s children and grandchildren attended. The MC for the program was her grandson Josh. All of the children spoke briefly and gave voice to the values their mother embodied.

In the middle of the program Susan Bro was introduced and gave a short but moving speech. Susan is the mother of Heather Heyer, the young women killed in Charlottesville. Heather is sometimes referred to as the modern Viola Liuzzo.

The statue is located at Viola Liuzzo park. It is a beautiful and well maintained neighborhood space near 8 Mile and Greenfield in Detroit with fitness equipment, children’s playground stuff, bio-retention ponds and now the statue. The evolution of the park itself has been a decades long effort to pay tribute to her life and her sacrifice. It is close to the home she left to go to support the Selma to Montgomery march in 1965. Dorothy Dewberry Aldridge, a member of the National Council of Elders (NCOE) has been a dedicated member of the committee that has brought the park and the statue to life. (Note in the photo the delightful detail that she is carrying her shoes.)
(photo credit: Detroit News)
Here’s hoping we all have more opportunities to spend time in the Beloved Community.

(photo credit: Detroit News)

Here’s hoping we all have more opportunities to spend time in the Beloved Community.

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