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For Immediate Release: September 5, 2023

Statement: Eric Adams and His NYPD Drones Can’t Violate Our Privacy

Before Labor Day weekend, Mayor Adams and the NYPD announced that they would unleash a fleet of surveillance drones to spy on “large outdoor gatherings.” This move is an outrageous and illegal violation of New Yorkers’ right to privacy. Mayor Adams’ drones will be used to target primarily working-class Black, brown and immigrant New Yorkers as they gather on a rare and precious holiday meant to celebrate the labor movement and the rights of working people. Indeed, drones were visibly present surveilling J’Ouvert celebrations and the West Indian Day Parade.

Deploying drones to spy on social gatherings is in clear violation of the NYPD’s legal obligations under the Public Oversight of Surveillance Technology (POST) Act. The POST Act, passed by the City Council in 2020, requires the police to publish a report on any new methods of surveillance or new surveillance technology at least 90 days ahead of time to allow the public a chance for comment. Flouting the legal obligations of the POST Act, Mayor Adams and his allies in the NYPD continue to enforce the culture of impunity endemic to the NYPD, whose officers act as if they are above the laws they are meant to uphold. It’s not surprising, then, that the city will have to pay out $13 million to protesters brutalized by the notoriously violent NYPD in 2020, or that Eric Adams’s police force stops and searches Black and brown New Yorkers at an even higher rate than they did during the Bloomberg years.

Finally, Mayor Adams publicly boasted that his interest in using drones for surveillance and policing was sparked by his recent junket to Israel’s far-right government, which has used drone technology both to carry out war crimes in its illegal occupation of Palestine, and to help suppress the recent protest movement against Netanyahu’s right-wing and anti-democratic reforms. It is shameful that, after his meeting with the Israeli leaders responsible for both war crimes and a right-wing takeover of Israel’s own legal system, Eric Adams openly admired and pledged to copy their technologies of racist, genocidal surveillance.

We demand that the Mayor and the NYPD immediately halt any plans they have to deploy surveillance drones in the future, that they cease any current or developing actions to spy on private residents of New York City, and that they abide by their legal obligations as outlined by the 2020 POST Act for all future considerations of surveillance technology. The state legislature should also pass the bill proposed by DSA-endorsed senators Jabari Brisport and Julia Salazar that would make the use of robot drones for surveillance illegal.

Working people make this city great, and we refuse to have our rare, cherished moments of rest and celebration violated by Eric Adams and his flying spies.


ABOUT NYC-DSA: New York City Democratic Socialists is the local chapter of Democratic Socialists of America—the largest socialist organization in the United States with over 85,000 members. NYC-DSA is run by its 6,000+ members and activists who are working together to build a democratic socialist organization in the five boroughs.