Monday, December 7, 2009

Communique on earlier surveillance camera destruction -- Santa Cruz, CA

In late July and late October, 2009, attacks against intersection and freeway surveillance cameras took place in Santa Cruz County. Thirty cameras had their cables cut, rendering them inoperable. This was done as an act of resistance against increasingly pervasive surveillance technologies.



Through surveillance cameras installed everywhere, they can know our movements and activities. Through ATM and credit card databases, they can know what we purchase and where. Through telecommunication systems, they can monitor to whom we speak and the content of our conversation. Through the internet, they can trace our social networks and know what projects we work on. Modern technologies have perfected social control to a point never before imaginable, allowing the transformation of the entire urban space into an open-air prison.

In late July and late October, 2009, attacks against intersection and freeway surveillance cameras took place in Santa Cruz County. Thirty cameras had their cables cut, rendering them inoperable. This was done as an act of resistance against increasingly pervasive surveillance technologies.

We assume that a police state requires a massive presence of troops, tanks on street corners, and helicopters in the sky. The modern reality is much different. Progress has allowed those in power to replace menacing weapons with the omnipresence of their technological instruments. The most efficient police state is one that has no need to put police on display. The fact of being watched by an inanimate object rather than an armed person does nothing to change our suffocating condition. Even the psychological effects aside, there is always an agent behind a surveillance camera.

Cops and bureaucrats are likely to claim that the cameras are not used for surveillance. Though one cannot take anything they say at face value, this claim partly beside the point. Even unwatched surveillance cameras perform a repressive function. First, their presence accustoms us to being watched, making their proliferation a less frightening possibility. Second, as we become accustomed, the existing cameras prepare the way for more insidious detection and surveillance technology. Lastly, the feeling of being watched has strong psychological effects, not least among them is the normalization of behavior. This normalization of behavior, a “self-policing” of sorts, does not happen haphazardly—in fact, it happens neatly in line with business and government interests.

After Halloween this year, Police Chief Howard Skerry stated that the police helicopter had a certain “psychological effect”. The police are clear about the fact that they wish our communities to live in fear. Recently, cops and bureaucrats have advocated installing additional surveillance cameras in downtown Santa Cruz. We will continue to resist this totalitarian re-engineering of our world.

Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

Keep Santa Cruz Weird.

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/11/30/18630970.php

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