NYPD Used Disputed Facial Recognition Technology To Hunt Down Black Lives Matter Activist

NYPD Used Disputed Facial Recognition Technology To Hunt Down Black Lives Matter Activist

facial recognition
The NYPD used disputed facial recognition technology and a disproportionate show of force to hunt down 28-year-old Black Lives Matter activist Derrick Ingram. Photo: Instagram

Controversial facial recognition technology was used by the New York Police Department to track down a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, according to a new report.

Derrick Ingram, who co-founded the nonviolent activist group Warriors In The Garden, ultimately turned himself in to police on Aug. 8 after more than 50 NYPD officers surrounded his apartment building in Manhattan for more than five hours, Newsweek reported.

Police wanted Ingram in connection to an alleged “assault on a police officer” during a protest in Manhattan on June 14, an NYPD spokesperson told CNN.

NYPD barricaded Ingram’s street and used drones, police dogs, and two helicopters in their pursuit of Ingram, according to a statement from Warriors In The Garden. Police also had sharpshooters pointing at the windows of his apartment, CNN reported.

“NYPD arrived to his door stating they had a warrant for his arrest and he needed to open the door immediately. He asked for the warrant to be slid under the door then they quickly shifted their words to ‘We’re working on getting one,'” the statement read.

At the June 14 protest, a struggle broke out between Ingram and an NYPD officer who tried to prevent the activist from crossing a police line, according to NYPD spokesperson Sgt. Jessica McRorie. Ingram allegedly “placed a handheld megaphone directly against the officer’s ear, activated the megaphone and yelled, causing pain and protracted impairment of hearing,” McRorie said.

After the protest incident, the NYPD used facial recognition technology to track down Ingram.

A video of the Aug. 7 standoff captured by FreedomNewsTV shows police officers in front of Ingram’s apartment building examining a document titled “Facial Identification Section Informational Lead Report,” which includes what appears to be a photo of Ingram taken from his Instagram.

“The NYPD uses facial recognition as a limited investigative tool, comparing a still image from a surveillance video to a pool of lawfully possessed arrest photos,” another NYPD spokesperson told Gothamist. “No one has ever been arrested solely on the basis of a computer match.”

The 28-year-old Ingram, a Black Lives Matter activist, lived streamed the incident. During the standoff, the NYPD failed to produce a warrant.

Facial recognition technology is controversial because it lacks the ability to distinguish the faces of Black women and men. The technology is not reliable enough to be used by law enforcement, according to Brian Brackeen, founder and former CEO of Miami-based facial recognition firm Kairos. The technology has a bias problem as its algorithms were written by mostly white men. It has a difficult time understanding varying skin colors, different shades, and genders, Brackeen said.

Brackeen, who was forced out of his company, told Moguldom, “I really hope Kairos stays out of government surveillance. That’s an area we were clear about during my time in leadership there. Government and facial recognition are a toxic cocktail. While it’s enticing, no amount of revenue is worth trading our civil liberties for.”

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 73: Jamarlin Martin Jamarlin makes the case for why this is a multi-factor rebellion vs. just protests about George Floyd. He discusses the Democratic Party’s sneaky relationship with the police in cities and states under Dem control, and why Joe Biden is a cop and the Steve Jobs of mass incarceration.

The NYPD has been criticized for the disproportionate show of force in pursuing Ingram. 

“We’re being specifically targeted with this technology because of what we’re protesting and because we’re trying to deconstruct a system that they’re a part of,” Ingram told Gothamist. “It’s a waste of taxpayer money and dollars that could be reallocated to people struggling throughout this city.”

After the use of facial recognition by the NYPD was revealed, Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a statement saying standards for using facial recognition technology need to be “reassessed,” The Verge reported.