Rashida Tlaib facial recognition

Tlaib Tells Police Chief Not to Hire White Cops for Certain Jobs — He Instantly Shuts Her Down

Rep. Rashida Tlaib told the Detroit police chief Monday that he should employ only black people on the department’s facial recognition team because “non-African Americans think African Americans all looks the same.”

However, the chief, James Craig, immediately rejected the Michigan’ Democrat’s suggestion and later called it “racist.”

The exchange took place during Tlaib’s more than hourlong tour of of the Real Time Crime center, where officers monitor footage from video cameras on traffic lights and in and around businesses. Police officials invited Tlaib to tour the facility at Detroit Police headquarters after she last month tweeted that they should “probably rethink this whole facial recognition bulls**t.”

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Tlaib has a record of confused tweets about race, which she has stood behind contrary to evidence.


According to The Detroit Daily News, the tour was “often tense, with Tlaib and Craig wrangling over how the department uses the software, privacy issues, and concerns that the technology misidentifies a disproportionate number of darker-skinned people.”

“Analysts need to be African Americans, not people that are not,” Tlaib told Craig at one point. “I think non-African Americans think African Americans all look the same.”

She went on to say that she has seen people confuse two longserving black Democrats in the House, Reps. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore and John Lewis of Georgia, when in fact “they’re totally different people.”

“I see it all the time, and I love them because they go along with it,” she said.

Craig replied: “I trust people who are trained, regardless of race; regardless of gender. It’s about the training.”

“I know,” Tlaib said. “But it does make a huge difference with the analysts.”

At another point, Tlaib interrupted Craig’s explanation of how police use the technology to demand that he “get some of our money back before we fix it.”

“No,” Craig told her.

Rashida Tlaib goes deeper on race and facial recognition

After the tour, a reporter asked Tlaib whether she was arguing that white people are unqualified to work in the crime center.

“No,” she said, before adding: “I think there has actually been studies out that it’s hard for — African Americans would identify African Americans, or Latinos, same thing.”

Asked whether non-whites should then be barred from working as crime analysts in mostly white communities, Tlaib answered: “Look it up.”

On Tuesday, Tlaib’s spokesman sent the Daily News a link to a 2012 psychology study that suggests facial recognition technology is not exempt from the “cross-race effect,” according to which people are better at identifying members of their own race. Denzel McCampbell said Tlaib was trying to convey the importance of accurately identifying black suspects in Detroit, which is almost 80 percent African American.

However, Craig told the Daily News that Tlaib’s comments were “a slap in the face to all the men and women in the crime center,” whom he said undergo mandatory implicit bias training. He said that both black and white staffers had complained to him after the tour.

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“That’s something we train for, and it’s valuable training, but to say people should be barred from working somewhere because of their skin color? That’s racist,” he said.

The “Squad” has taken a stand

Tlaib in July joined Democratic Reps. Yvette Clarke of New York and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts in sponsoring the No Biometric Barriers Housing Act of 2019, which would prohibit the usage of facial recognition technology in most federally funded public housing.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York — who along with Tlaib and Pressley is a member of the “Squad” of progressive first-term Democratic congresswomen — has also raised concerns about the risk of racial and gender bias in facial recognition technology.

Detroit has nonetheless purchased and implemented the software. On Sept. 18, The Detroit Board of Police Commissioners approved a policy governing its use.

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