People congregate beside a commemorative mural for Freddie Gray, near the location he was arrested on June 23, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (AFP)
Police in the US
city of Baltimore have been recording footage of everything happening in the city from the sky since January in a secret program recently exposed.
The program was initially revealed by Bloomberg last Tuesday, saying it “adapted from the surge in Iraq. And they neglected to tell the public.”
The system used planes with “industrial imaging cameras” attached to them that yielded “a searchable, constantly updating photographic map that was stored on hard drives.”
“As the plane flew, computers stabilized the images from the cameras, stitched them together and transmitted them to the ground at a rate of one per second,” revealed the report.
The public had been kept in the dark until this week when the revelation made elected officials and civil liberties advocates to demand “an immediate stop to the program pending a full, public accounting of its capabilities and its use in the city to date, including in the prosecution of criminal defendants,” according to The Baltimore Sun.
“Widespread surveillance violates every citizens’ right to privacy; the lack of disclosure about this practice and the video that has been captured further violates the rights of our clients who may have evidence supporting their innocence that is kept secret,” Paul DeWolfe, the Public Defender for Maryland said in a statement earlier this week.
The surveillance was conducted in collaboration with a private company and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake is said to have been unaware of the program.
Baltimore is where police brutality against minority neighborhood has triggered protests by Black Lives Matter activists following the death of 25-year-old African American Freddie Gray in the hands of the US police while being transported in a van.
“This whole city is under a siege of cameras,” A 52-year-old local activist told Bloomberg. “In fact, they observed Freddie Gray himself the morning of his arrest on those cameras, before they picked him up. They could have watched that van, too, but no—they missed that one. I thought the cameras were supposed to protect us. But I’m thinking they’re there to just contradict anything that might be used against the city of Baltimore. Do they use them for justice? Evidently not.”
Baltimore police also has 700 street level cameras as well as 250 others at local businesses.
According to NSA surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden, US government surveillance methods far surpass those of an ‘Orwellian’ state, referring to George Orwell’s classic novel “1984,” which describes a society
where personal privacy is continuously invaded by spy agencies.