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Jun 8, 21

Tucson Anti-Repression Crew Statement on DPS Surveillance of activists

Statement from Tucson Anti-Repression Crew (TARC) on recent article from Perilous Chronicle which exposes the extent of police and state surveillance of local anti-racist activists.

Earlier today, June 8th, Perilous Chronicle published an article revealing that the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) was conducting surveillance of numerous Tucson residents based off their suspected participation in protests against police violence in the Summer of 2020. The article reveals that DPS curated dossiers of Tucson residents that include private personal information, speculation on their role in protest activities, perceived relationships between individuals, organizational affiliations, and photos pulled from their personal social media profiles. The documents obtained by Perilous also show the intention of the Arizona State Patrol to continue to both physically and digitally follow particular individuals to, “lead us to others.”

The surveillance of 1st Amendment protected activities by law enforcement may not come as a surprise to many, but it should not be overlooked as it lays a foundation for dangerous incursions on effective social movements. When powerful movements rise up to hold police across the country to task for their abuses, the response from police is to go to any lengths necessary to protect their own. Such surveillance is intended to not only generate arrests, but to cast a chilling effect on those who stand up to police violence.

We have seen this before in response to powerful movements. In 2003 the Denver Police Department [DPD] was sued by the ACLU for creating extensive dossiers and files on community activists and organizations. The ACLU won their suit and yet DPD continues to violate the court orders to cease such activity. In Phoenix last Summer local police attempted to add activists to the gang database, citing “ACAB” as a gang. “Gang jacketing” activists is a dangerous ploy, but we cannot ignore the way in which this happens on a daily basis in marginalized communities. Young people in racialized and poor communities are labeled as gang members, followed and harassed, their friendships criminalized, with no outside oversight or transparency, and no burden of proof on the accusers. Whether the gang label is placed on folks for their political activities or their social location, we stand in defiance against the police forces who use this tactic to illicit control and compliance.

Tucson Anti-Repression Crew is dedicated to defending the movements that arose in response to the murder of George Floyd. We stand in unequivocal solidarity with those targeted by the State for their participation in the uprisings of 2020, regardless of whether it has been deemed criminal or not.

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photo: Joe Gadd via Unsplash

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Working to contribute to cultures of resilience against state repression in southern so-called Arizona.

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