Dear friends and comrades,
This year marked a decade since the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition formed in 2011. Our first meetings took place on the streets and in homes, as community conversations about what surveillance, privacy, suspicion, and spying meant to different people. Those conversations gave rise to organizing, with our early membership including youth, day laborers, immigrants, formerly incarcerated people, academics, undocumented people, unhoused people, artists, lawyers, journalists, students, and faith-based and community organizations. Over the years, we have helped lead movement-building to expose and dismantle the police state in Los Angeles and across the globe.
All our work is accountable first and foremost to an organizing base made up of those who are most vulnerable to police violence, particularly in the Skid Row community where we are located. We work to build power among that base and across the city. Collective study and community research are crucial to our work, decolonizing “expertise” about surveillance and policing. Our wins over the decade have included:
- Ending LAPD’s first-generation predictive policing programs
- Confronting UCLA’s complicity in LAPD surveillance programs
- Grounding LAPD’s drones for years and forcing one of the most restrictive drone use policies in the nation
- Dwindling LAPD’s Suspicious Activity Reporting national security behavioral surveillance program
- Exposing nonprofits that work with police to promote surveillance technologies
- Revealing coordination between LAPD’s data-driven policing programs, city prosecutors, and real estate developers
- Uncovering LAPD’s local “fusion center” spy garrisons
- Mobilizing resistance to LAPD’s “community policing” programs
- Popularizing a “watch the watchers” model of surveillance cop-watching
- Ending federal grants to the City of Los Angeles for youth surveillance programs
We had a very busy year in 2021:
- We launched a number of innovative popular education materials, including: thestalkerstate.org, built with visual artists and graphic designers; Fuck 12: 12 Reasons We Reject Surveillance Bureaucracy, a zine about surveillance “oversight” proposals; Grassroots Community Self-Defense, a zine about principles and commitments; Blueprint for Displacement, on LAPD’s violence against people living around Echo Park Lake; and LAPD’s Budget Creep, dissecting the massive growth of LAPD’s budget during Mayor Garcetti’s term.
- We filed our third public records lawsuit against LAPD, to expose details of LAPD’s budget growth over the years. That case – part of our Defund Surveillance campaign – forced LAPD to turn over years of previously withheld budget records, and we are currently analyzing these records with a team of community volunteers. We later filed another public records lawsuit, this one to expose LAPD’s collaboration with UCLA academics.
- We mobilized widespread community opposition to LAPD’s facial recognition policies; to efforts to create a new “public order” command within LAPD; and to LAPD exploiting its violence during the George Floyd uprising to secure more resource and spy powers.
- We shared our analysis in Knock LA (first about the Biden administration’s calls for “domestic terrorism” policing and then about LAPD veterans using “reform” to secure more police resources); in Vice, confronting new legislative proposals to codify use of police surveillance; in Copwatch Media, exposing the Target Corporation’s deep ties to LAPD; in Critical Resistance’s The Abolitionistnewspaper, on building a culture of resistance to data-driven policing; in AI Now’s New AI Lexicon series, on the harmful role of “police reform” institutions; and more.
- We’ve hosted 86 #KnowYourFight community webinars since March 2020, shifting our weekly community meetings that took place at LA CAN in Skid Row to Zoom in response to the pandemic.
- We released Automating Banishment, about the relationship of data-driven policing to real estate development and settler colonialism. This report was researched and written by dozens of community members coming together for collective study. Along with the report, we launched a story map, video series, and interactive website, and we’ve hosted a series of teach-ins and community workshops.
Throughout all that work, our central goal has been building a strong and responsive culture of resistance and grassroots self-defense in Los Angeles. We have over the years had significant, outsized impact using grassroots funding, in-kind donations, and occasional grants. In 2017, a study by the Los Angeles Community Action Network estimated that we benefit from over 300 hours of in-kind donations from community volunteers every week, worth $350,000 per year in volunteer time. In addition to all our volunteer work, in 2021 we were able to hire a full-time attorney to work on community lawyering, writing, and research, as well as two full-time community organizers. In 2022, we hope to continue funding these three positions as well as to hire a full-time research coordinator and to expand our community-based research of the police state.
Thank you for being part of our journey toward abolition over the past decade. Our work is largely funded through community donations, and your support sustains all our research and organizing. Please consider including us in your end-of-year giving, as well as setting up a recurring donation.