Panel Descriptions

Panel Descriptions

Monday – Panel 1 – History and Overview of Police Surveillance in the United States

Monday, January 17, 2022 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET | Virtual Zoom Room

The Symposium will begin with a panel discussing what “police surveillance technologies” are and the historical context of their use within the United States justice system. Speakers will spend the majority of this panel discussing how police surveillance technology emerged, how police technologies have been drawn and adapted from the commercial marketplace, and how the “digital era” has fundamentally changed the landscape for criminalization, particularly in urban cities. Lastly, to honor MLK’s legacy we will discuss how our country’s modern, unprecedented surveillance powers might be contextualized by understanding their use against communities of color, religious minorities, immigrants, and dissidents in the past. 

Tuesday – Panel 2 – The Expansion of Police Surveillance Technology 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET | Virtual Zoom Room

This panel will discuss how technology now sits at the core of police operations, and how police departments today use surveillance cameras, gunshot detection systems, automated license plate readers, facial recognition software, body cameras, drones, and numerous databases to prevent, respond and investigate crimes. This panel will discuss how technological innovations have changed the landscape for police surveillance, and how the near future holds even more possibilities. In this panel, practitioners, scholars, and activists will discuss how and why certain innovations are adopted, and the consequences—both intended and unintended—of technology-driven solutions to the problem of crime.

Wednesday – Panel 3 – Surveillance of Social Movements and Public Protest

Wednesday, January 19, 2022 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET | Virtual Zoom Room

Practitioners, activists, and legal scholars will join together to discuss how technology is fundamentally reshaping how political demonstrations are monitored by the police. This panel will discuss how police and federal agencies utilize their extensive resources to track, identify and surveil Black Lives Matter protesters, and ask if far-right, white supremacist groups engaging in protest are being surveilled to the same extent. This panel will also discuss the differences between “situational awareness” and “surveillance” and how social media monitoring, though a powerful tool for protest, can be used as a weapon to magnify the power of the police. Lastly, this panel will discuss how cities across the country have started putting civilians in charge of police surveillance through Civilian Control over Police Surveillance ordinances, and in contrast how other activist groups have made it their mission to end police surveillance alongside larger police abolition efforts. 

Thursday – Panel 4 – Ending Targeted Police Surveillance of Communities of Color

Thursday, January 20, 2022 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET | Virtual Zoom Room

This panel will cover the disproportionate impact police surveillance technologies have on members of racial minority groups. Scholars and researchers will discuss how digital surveillance tools such as facial recognition technology, predictive algorithms, and social media monitoring, among others, are heavily relied upon by police during investigations despite evidence that the technology is flawed and disparately impacts people of color. Using the Detroit Police Department’s “Project Green Light” as a case study, this panel will discuss the ways in which activists are fighting against police use of high-tech surveillance technology to track, identify, and arrest Black individuals and monitor the Black community in particular. 

Friday – Panel 5 – Reform Discussions 

Friday, January 21, 2022 | 12:00 – 1:00 PM ET | Virtual Zoom Room

Speakers will explain what “reform” of police surveillance technology means to them, current reforms they endorse, proposed reforms that they believe we should be suspicious of, activism efforts worth endorsing, and what they envision as the best path forward. We will conclude the Symposium by highlighting the current and future status of police surveillance reform. It is our hope that these closing remarks will encourage community participation from all attendees and inspire future action.