Privacy SOS

Tell the Lawrence City Council: Vote ‘yes’ on surveillance oversight, vote ‘yes’ on immigrants’ rights

Across the country, state and local police departments endanger immigrant communities by collecting and sharing information about residents with federal immigration authorities. Oftentimes this information is captured using high-tech surveillance equipment like license plate trackers and biometric fingerprint readers. But communities across the country are pushing back, demanding local control and oversight of police surveillance.

Last month, the Lawrence, Massachusetts City Council voted to approve an ordinance requiring community control over police surveillance. Following the lead of cities across the country, Lawrence’s lawmakers signaled their support for a rigorous process to require transparency, oversight, and accountability regarding all surveillance technology purchases, policies, and deployments in the City of Lawrence.

Unfortunately, in early September, Lawrence Mayor Dan Rivera vetoed the ordinance. Now it’s time for community members in Lawrence to once again make their voices heard at City Hall, to push the council to override the Mayor’s veto.

If you care about immigrants’ rights and privacy, please turn out to the hearing Tuesday night to tell the Council to vote for a veto override.
When: Tuesday, September 18, 7PM
Where: Lawrence City Hall, Lawrence, Massachusetts
Who: Lawrence residents
What: City Council meeting

In the era of Trump, local surveillance oversight is crucial

Any time a government uses advanced surveillance technology, civil rights and civil liberties are at risk. But the use of these tools especially risks violating the rights of historically oppressed communities like people of color, immigrants, Muslims, and the poor. These risks are heightened by the Trump administration’s commitment to a bigoted, authoritarian agenda, marked by outright hostility to immigrants, people of color, and Muslims. While Lawrence—not President Trump—is in charge of its police department, the City receives federal grant monies from the Trump administration for law enforcement activities, and also participates in information sharing programs and task force operations that involve federal agencies. Furthermore, the presence of a United States Immigration office in Lawrence means the city is a target for ICE operations.

It is therefore extremely important that the City of Lawrence does everything in its power to ensure it is only collecting and sharing information about people when absolutely necessary for public safety purposes. Right now, we don’t know what kinds of information the Lawrence Police Department collects or shares with ICE. That’s why we need a surveillance oversight ordinance like the one introduced by Councilmember Pavel Payano, and approved by the City Council.

Take action to defend immigrants and protect privacy

If you live in Lawrence or know Lawrence residents, please spread this message far and wide. We need Lawrence residents to turn out to a City Council meeting on Tuesday September 18 at 7PM at City Hall, to urge the Council to override the Mayor’s veto.

If you can’t make it to the meeting, please take a moment to call or email your City Councilors to tell them you support a veto override and a strong surveillance oversight ordinance for Lawrence. If you have any questions or need more information, please contact Kade Crockford at the ACLU.

© 2018 ACLU of Massachusetts.