‘Let them keep complaining’: Adams dismisses critics of NYPD taking videos of Drake concertgoers in Harlem

Mayor Eric Adams praised the Harlem NYPD chief’s decision to have a police officer record video of concertgoers leaving Drake’s show at the Apollo Theater on Saturday, calling the idea an “innovative” way to communicate with the public.

This event, which was written on Twitter by a New York Times A music critic, he drew sharp criticism for what some said amounted to racist surveillance by the NYPD at a concert that drew large crowds of color. The NYPD, which said the content was used on social media, has been criticized frequently for the controversial surveillance measures it has implemented since 9/11.

Drake, who is considered one of the biggest rap artists in the business, delivered what was later described as his “intimate” performance on the stage.

During an unrelated news conference in the Bronx on Monday, Adams dismissed these concerns as coming from a minority on Twitter that doesn’t reflect “everyday New Yorkers.”

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“Promote to chief,” Adams said of Capt. Tarik Sheppard, who leads the 28th Precinct.

The mayor has “complimented” Sheppard for taking video of the concerts.

“And I encourage all my officers to be efficient in the way we interact with the residents,” he said, adding, “It was a safe event.

Following questions about the video recording, an NYPD spokesperson said the concert footage would only be used to promote public events on social media.

“The police officer shown in the video is a Public Affairs officer involved with the 28th Precinct social welfare team,” the statement read. “The official was taking a video on twitter that will highlight local events. The video will not be used for any other purpose. “

Critics, however, have expressed concern that the video could be used for facial recognition technology, which is legal in New York. The NYPD has historically used a “rap unit” to monitor hip hop performances.

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“The NYPD’s use of a video recording device on hip hop fans at a historically Black theater in Harlem is deeply troubling,” said Will Owen, of the Surveillance Technology Control Project, an anti-surveillance and privacy rights group.

This is another example of the NYPD’s racist use of surveillance technology, following the department’s long legacy of targeting rap concerts. We are very concerned about facial recognition being part of it, and we want the department to destroy any images taken. This is the latest evidence that the city and state should ban its use in places once and for all. “

Recently, the group has joined with lawmakers to demand that Madison Square Garden stop using face recognition to block certain attorneys representing firms suing the organization.

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Adams has been a proponent of the use of facial recognition and other technologies in policing. “We will use all available means to keep our people safe,” he said last year.

Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia University law professor who is an expert on police, was among those who doubted that the people who recorded the concert promoted a sense of security.

“I doubt anyone felt safe because the NYPD was making a digital record of their time at the Apollo to hear a black artist,” he said. “Did the NYPD think there was going to be a riot?”

Adams, however, argued that most New Yorkers welcome a police presence in their communities.

“Those who are crazy find reasons to complain about everything,” he said. “That’s not true. Let them keep complaining.”


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