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Saturday, February 24, 2018

With a smashed camera-shaped piñata, New Orleans immigrants and allies call on City Council to vote against surveillance ordinance

Posted By on Sat, Feb 24, 2018 at 12:25 AM

click to enlarge Congress of Day Laborers and allies stood outside City Hall and smashed a camera-shaped pinata to protest a proposed surveillance network.
  • Congress of Day Laborers and allies stood outside City Hall and smashed a camera-shaped pinata to protest a proposed surveillance network.

A few steps away from the doors of New Orleans City Hall Feb. 24, children swatted at a large colorful pinata in the shape of a security camera, standing in for the proposed massive surveillance network that would give the city access to a live camera feed in the front of every business that sells alcohol. Surrounded by painted cardboard cameras mocking the newly installed cameras with red-and-blue flashing lights, the crowd took turns chanting "no mas cameras!"

Congress of Day Laborers with the New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice fears that the camera network would criminalize immigrant communities put under a constant microscope if that data — streamed into the city's Real Time Crime Monitoring Center — is shared with federal immigration enforcement.

"What we need is to invest in jobs, education and our streets," said Congress of Day Laborers organizer Chloe Sigal. "We don’t need to be pouring more resources into criminalization in our communities."
Congress of Day Laborers is calling on the New Orleans City Council to vote against the measure, set for the council's March 8 agenda, and on city officials to ensure
that the private companies contracting with the city to store surveillance data are complying with the New Orleans Police Department’s anti-bias policy with immigration enforcement.

NOPD has said the surveillance network — under direction of the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security — won’t be used with immigration enforcement; NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison has stressed the department’s role in building trust with immigrant communities to prevent crimes from going un- or under-reported.

But advocates say private companies aren’t obligated to do the same and could share that data with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies that could put those communities and their families at risk. A small crowd outside City Hall urged the city to divest from public safety funding and spend more of its budget on education, jobs and housing.

“We need after school programs for children, we need job training, and dignified jobs and dignified housing,” said Congreso member Santos Canales, speaking in Spanish through Congreso organizer Rachel Taber. “It’s not fair that we came here to rebuild New Orleans after the storm, and now that things are going well, they want to criminalize our community. … We live here, we work here, we pay taxes, this is our home. We want to be recognized as part of this community.”

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