Margaret Flowers is the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland. She published the following statement on her campaign website on August 24th, 2016:
Monte Reel of Bloomberg News reports that since January, Baltimore City police have been working with a private corporation, Persistent Surveillance Systems, to keep Baltimore communities under constant aerial surveillance. The secret surveillance program was funded through the Baltimore Community Foundation to keep the funding anonymous. Bloomberg exposed the surveillance program and the funder, a former-Enron trader John Arnold from Texas known as “the King of natural gas.”
This news is disturbing on many levels. Here are some quick points as I digest this news:
1. Surveillance of city residents that is funded by private dollars and done in secret is a violation of the public trust and seems to cross a line of legality under the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. Following on the discovery of the use of Stingray technology by police, it makes one wonder what other programs are being used by the Baltimore police without public knowledge.
2. Militarizing the police further than they already are is a problem when we should be doing the opposite. The police need to become public servants who are accountable to the public.
3. This is a huge waste of resources – if the city did decide to fund it, it would waste dollars that should be used to solve the underlying crises of poverty and lack of education, jobs, affordable homes and access to health care that fuel violence and crime in our city. The recent DOJ report found that Baltimore City Police are already overusing resources such as the use of police helicopters to enforce nuisance laws.