DC Housing sues over ‘aggressive’ level of built-in surveillance

DC Housing sues over 'aggressive' level of built-in surveillance


A DC public housing resident filed a lawsuit earlier this month with town’s housing authority and DC police, saying that “disproportionate surveillance” on his complicated was a privateness violation.

Schyla Pondexter-Moore has lived within the Highland Dwellings in Southeast Washington for 14 years, in accordance with a lawsuit filed within the U.S. District Courtroom for the District of Columbia.

The lawsuit says that in 2017, the DC Housing Authority started putting in a safety system on the property and changing video surveillance. When Pondexter-Moore acquired a discover that employees would wish to enter his property to finish the job, he refused, in accordance with the lawsuit.

“Whereas the DCHA has made a number of makes an attempt to put in a digital camera in Ms. Pondexter-Moore’s dwelling and an influence field in her bed room, it has refused to reply to Ms. Pondexter-Moore’s repeated requests for primary details about the cameras’ capabilities and objective.” aforementioned.

On January 31, 2018, Pondexter-Moore was arrested by a DC Housing Authority safety guard and interrogated when questioning employees on the property, telling him that he “does not have any rights as a public housing resident and may’t cease the employee from putting in the cameras,” in accordance with the lawsuit.

The encounter turned violent, the lawsuit stated, because the safety guard slammed Pondexter-Moore into the constructing and “bumped” him. [her] his son leaned towards the wall” and tried to intervene. In response to the lawsuit, minutes later, eight DC cops arrived on the facility to arrest the mom and son, who spent the evening in jail whereas the cameras have been arrange.

Courtroom data present that Pondexter-Moore was initially charged with easy assault and injury to property, however the fees have been dropped.

The lawsuit stated right now that the safety system at Highland Dwellings was too intensive—greater than 80 cameras, a part of the DC Housing Authority’s 650-camera “large surveillance program” in public housing complexes, monitored from the company’s headquarters close to Union Station.

The swimsuit stated cameras with infrared and zoom capabilities have been “capturing intimate particulars about Ms. Pondexter-Moore’s life”. In response to the lawsuit, some cameras in Highland have been positioned “proper subsequent to residential home windows” and the residence complicated’s safety system “can observe each private and non-private areas”.

“A number of cameras in such a small house enable residents to sleep, eat, elevate their kids, tidy up, and bathtub, amongst different issues,” the swimsuit says.

The lawsuit says Pondexter-Moore is a “sufferer of disproportionate surveillance” and seeks unspecified compensatory damages and elimination of the cameras.

The DC Housing Authority declined to remark, as Pondexter-Moore did by means of his attorneys. DC police directed inquiries to the lawyer normal’s workplace, and he declined to remark.

Matthew Guariglia, a coverage analyst on the Digital Frontier Basis, a privateness advocacy group, stated the proliferation of cameras signifies that petty crimes like graffiti lead to a disproportionate police response, significantly in Black and working-class neighborhoods. Nonetheless, there is no such thing as a proof that such a surveillance improves neighborhood security, he stated.

“The extra individuals stay their lives below microscopes, the extra the authorities will suspect,” he stated.

In an announcement posted on Twitter, the Georgetown Regulation Civil Rights Clinic, which represents Pondexter-Moore, stated it shared surveillance footage of the DC Housing Authority with DC police. every day actions.”

“The DCHA’s 24-hour surveillance of public housing residents – who’re overwhelmingly individuals of coloration – is one other instance of extreme policing and surveillance of Black and brown communities in DC,” he stated.

DC Council approves housing administration overhaul at last meeting of 2022

Whereas the lawsuit was filed days earlier than the DC Council handed laws to scale back the scale of the housing company’s board, the authority has come below hearth for alleged mismanagement.

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) proposed laws to DC Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) earlier this month to shake up and downsize the board. 1 in 4 units. The laws enacted on December 20 appears to present the mayor has more influence over the agency.

Outgoing DC Legal professional Basic Karl A. Racine (D) beneficial in a report earlier this month that the DC Housing Authority be “really unbiased.”

“DCHA is captured by the prioritization of political affect and political loyalty over data and experience,” Racine stated in an announcement. “This has led to a lack of process focus, an absence of management and steadiness, and a expertise exit that has penalties for our most weak residents.”

Michael Brice-Saddler contributed to this report.

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