Petition to End Ring Program
The Houston Police Department’s partnership with Amazon Ring has no place in the hometown of George Floyd, murdered at the hands of Minneapolis Police in 2020. The Houston Police Department must cancel its participation in Amazon’s Ring Neighbors Program, which allows police to access residents’ Ring cameras without probable cause or any warrant.
Amazon’s Ring has quietly secured over 1,600 partnerships with law enforcement agencies across the country, including the Houston Police Department, allowing them to tap into the personal Ring Doorbell Cameras of everyday citizens. The Houston Police Department also collaborates with the Houston Regional Intelligence Service Center through which the Department of Homeland Security monitors protests and other “dissident” activity.
Surveillance programs are a fundamental component of police and policing within the oppression of Black people and wider communities of color in the US. In both purpose and architecture, these programs are racist and predatory to their core. They are designed to criminalize the communities they claim to protect, abusing technology to violate the public’s privacy and civil liberties.
HPD is building toward a surveillance state. HPD uses StingRay cell-site simulators to invade privacy and collects camera footage from neighborhood license plate readers, all of which can be used in the city’s Real Time Crime Center. The Real Time Crime Center continuously monitors all priority one and two calls-for-service throughout the city. Houston DSA filed two public records request for the locations of HPD license plate readers and the camera footage or data sources in use at the Real Time Crime Center. HPD denied both requests citing “sensitive information” after invoking the Texas Attorney General. HPD is committed to operating an unregulated spy network in secret.
From: [Your Name]
We demand that the Houston Police Department’s (HPD) stop invasive surveillance and spying through programs like the Real-Time Crime Center and Ring Neighbors Partnership, and the use of enabling technologies like StingRay cell site simulators and license plate readers. The HPD Neighbors Partnership creates a culture of fear and suspicion, criminalizes innocent behavior, turns neighbors against one another, promotes racial profiling, invades privacy, is not evidence based, and wastes resources.
We, the undersigned, demand that the City of Houston disarm and gradually defund the Houston Police Department. We demand the immediate and permanent termination of all city partnership agreements with Amazon Ring, the immediate end of camera data use at the real-time crime center. We demand that the City Council and Houston Police Department make legislative commitments to bar the future use of surveillance, facial recognition, or any other invasive policing technologies. We demand the City of Houston repurpose all newly available funds towards public, socialized reinvestment in communities.