Civics: The Capitol Attack Doesn’t Justify Expanding Surveillance

Albert Fox Cahn:

We don’t need a cutting-edge surveillance dragnet to find the perpetrators of this attack: They tracked themselves. They livestreamed their felonies from the halls of Congress, recording each crime in full HD. We don’t need facial recognition, geofences, and cell tower data to find those responsible, we need police officers willing to do their job.

It’s hard to state just how jarring the images from the Capitol were. Not the violence from the Republican rioters, but the passivity, even complicity, of the police. After a quarter century of activism, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen protesters of color and progressives arrested, beaten, and worse.

People speaking out against injustice are met with brutality as a matter of course. But while millions of Americans face violence for protesting legally, white conservatives can break the law with impunity. That’s the failure we witnessed:not the angry mob but cooperative cops who were willing to look the other way or even pose for coup selfies.

This is nothing new in American history, but it’s rarely been captured so vividly. This is our history, same as the countless officers who turned a blind eye, or even lent a hand, to the racist lynch mobs of the past. This is the same racism that fueled the targeting of BIPOC communities for so many generations. And it should also be a moment of reckoning for American police, not a moment to give them greater deference and power.