In May and June of 2020, the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) spied on Black-led protests against police violence with a business district's vast network of surveillance cameras. During the first week of mass demonstrations following the police killing of George Floyd, the SFPD tapped into a network of more than 400 cameras owned by a business improvement district to conduct live mass surveillance of the protests.
This surveillance invaded the privacy of protesters, targeted people of color, and chills and deters participation and organizing for future protests. The SFPD also violated San Francisco’s new Surveillance Technology Ordinance. It prohibits city agencies like the SFPD from acquiring, borrowing, or using surveillance technology, without prior approval from the city’s Board of Supervisors, following an open process that includes public participation. Here, the SFPD went through no such process before spying on protesters with this network of surveillance cameras.
In October 2020, EFF and ACLU of Northern California filed a lawsuit against the City and County of San Francisco on behalf of three protesters. We seek a court order requiring the city to stop the SFPD from acquiring, borrowing, or using non-city networks of surveillance cameras absent prior Board approval.
Read the complaint, press release, and lead plaintiff's statement. Watch a video of the lead plaintiff and two of her lawyers. Check out the ACLU of Northern California's case page.
Meet our clients:
Hope Williams is a Black San Francisco activist. Williams organized and participated in several protests against police violence in San Francisco in May and June 2020. Read her statement and watch her video.
Nathan Sheard is a Black San Francisco activist and community organizer at EFF. In his personal capacity, Sheard attended one protest and helped protestors with legal support in May and June 2020.
Nestor Reyes is a Latinx activist, native San Franciscan, and community healer. Reyes organized and participated in several protests against police violence in San Francisco in May and June 2020.