Audio: Smash Surveillance Fiesta turns the lens on criminalization

Smash Surveillance Fiesta (photos by: Congreso)
One morning during Carnival season this year, New Orleanians woke up to find dozens of flashing surveillance cameras mounted along major thoroughfares across the city. Emblazoned on each camera was the blue logo of the New Orleans Police Department — the first indication that the cameras were part of the city’s new $40 million security plan.
Reactions to the cameras have ranged from confusion to alarm, especially among residents who are more likely to be impacted by mass surveillance; those who are vulnerable to criminalization. In a sense, the NOPD cameras are situated on the figurative and literal intersections of weakened transparency and heightened policing.
With these concerns in mind, a coalition of social justice groups came together in front of City Hall on February 23, 2018 to express their opposition to the cameras. Led by the Congress of Day Laborers (Congreso de Jornaleros), the Smash Surveillance Fiesta was a point of convergence between immigrant rights activists and other anti-oppression groups.
Speakers from Congreso, BreakOUT!, Stand with Dignity, and the Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans stepped up to the megaphone, flanked by activists carrying surveillance camera piñatas and protest signs that read “I am NOLA 2” and “No transparency, no vote.” Chants and cheers reached a crescendo when kids began to smash the camera piñatas, in a symbolic gesture that delivered catharsis and, well, a whole lot of candy.
City Hall will vote to expand the NOPD cameras on Thursday, March 8.


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