The NAACP branch in Michigan’s second-largest city is criticizing President Joe Biden’s gun control plan, saying it is going to “encourage over-policing.”
Biden is “encouraging cities to use COVID relief funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan,” Fox 17 reported, to “hire additional law enforcement officials or pay overtime where the funds are directly focused on advancing community policing strategies.”
Biden’s plan “also suggests cities can use the money to invest in technology and equipment to allow law enforcement to more efficiently and effectively respond to the rise in gun violence resulting from the pandemic.”
The NAACP is claiming that will “encourage over-policing” and fund surveillance programs.
“It encourages over-policing of Black and brown communities, which ultimately results in the unnecessary harms and deaths of Black and brown people,” Carlton Mayers, a policing reform adviser to the Grand Rapids chapter of the NAACP told WOOD-TV.
“We are very much so not in support of just arbitrarily giving money to law enforcement and not to community resources to deal with gun violence and violent crimes,” he said.
“They can use the money not only to hire more police officers but also to use and purchase technology and other equipment. We’re very concerned about that.”
The city of Grand Rapids was considering implementing a program called ShotSpotter, a network of microphones spread throughout a city intended to automatically detect gunshots and dispatch police.
Gayle Harvey, the NAACP’s executive officer of external relations, told WOOD-TV ShotSpotter would “target black and brown communities before crimes even take place.”
In an op-ed published by WZZM, Mayers criticized the amount the city of Grand Rapids devotes to policing compared to community programs and said the community should be involved in any surveillance program decisions:
Similar to Detroit, Grand Rapids’ Administrative Policy on Acquisition and Use of Surveillance Equipment and Surveillance Services should be amended to create mandatory community processes like a Community Advisory Committee, a publicly accessible surveillance impact report, and public hearings before the City Commission, including written and oral testimonies and a month-long public comment period.
In 2016, Detroit implemented “Project Green Light,” a facial recognition program supporters say “has been a deterrent for crime against businesses and buildings with the Green Light cameras installed,” Bridge reported.
Opponents argue “the technology has a pattern of misidentifying Black and Brown faces, which can be troublesome in a city that is 80 percent African American.”