11 September 2002

An International Day Against Video Surveillance

Alphabetical Listing of Participants

Arizona Surveillance Camera Players -- Tempe, Arizona, USA

Bologna Surveillance Camera Players -- Bologna, Italy

New York Surveillance Camera Players -- New York City, USA

Stockholm Surveillance Camera Players -- Stockholm, Sweden

Original Call to Action

Are you opposed to the use of surveillance cameras in public places?

Are you alarmed by the massive, unnecessary and on-going curtailment of civil liberties that has taken place in the USA and elsewhere (Australia, Austria, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Singapore and Sweden) since 11 September 2001?

Yes? Then help organize and participate in an international day of protest against the video surveillance of public places!

It's easy: sometime during Wednesday, 11 September 2002, get in front of a surveillance camera and show it what you think! Remember, few surveillance cameras pick up sound, so you'll have to use gestures, pantomime, printed words and/or pictures to get your message(s) across.

Make sure to document your "performance," whatever form it takes: videotape it, take photographs of it and/or write on account of what happened. If possible, disseminate your documentation: put it in a fanzine, send it as a "letter to the editor" and/or post it to your website. Be creative!

Don't be shy or afraid to demonstrate your feelings. Your confidence will inspire others.

-- the New York Surveillance Camera Players, 1 June 2002.


On 7 September 2001, a loosely organized network of autonomous groups staged An International Day Against Video Surveillance. Twenty-three groups from eight different countries participated in this action, which (according to the interests of the groups involved) included exhibits, installations, film and video screenings, information tables set up in public places, walking tours and street theatre.

A good deal of the street theatre was staged directly in front of "webcams" (video cameras that periodically or continuously upload images to the Internet) so that these performances could be seen by people all over the world, and not just in one particular location. The use of webcams was also meant to highlight the facts that both the use and the opposition to the use of surveillance cameras in public places are truly international and not limited to just one or two countries or continents.

Just four days after this "International Day Against Video Surveillance," that is, while its participants were still putting together their accounts of what they did on 7 September 2001, a group of terrorists hijacked several commercial airplanes and crashed them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center (WTC), thus killing all of the planes' passengers (and the hijackers themselves) as well as thousands of people who were in the targeted buildings when the planes struck them. Given the "sensitivity" or symbolic power of the locations, the severity of the damage to at least one of them, the large numbers of civilians ("innocent") people killed, and the fact that one of the plane crashes at the WTC and the collapses of both "Twin Towers" took place in front of untold numbers of television cameras, which meant these disasters were watched "live" (and then over and over again on videotape) by hundreds of millions of people -- given all that (and more), it wasn't surprising that the "International Day Against Video Surveillance" was completely upstaged.

On 1 June 2002, the SCP-New York proposed that the follow-up to the first "International Day Against Video Surveillance" be held on the first anniversary of 11 September 2001, and not on 7 September 2002. This relatively modest proposal was immediately attacked, and not, as you might think, by people who were in favor of surveillance cameras or the "war on terrorism." The attacks came from anti-surveillance activists -- some of them participants in last year's performances -- who were afraid that, if the day was moved to 11 September 2002, the international movement against video surveillance would be ignored by the mass media and/or "discredited" in the eyes of potentially sympathetic viewers. These activists feared that any and all anti-surveillance actions taken on that day will be seen as "disrespectful" to "the dead," that is, to the people who died on 11 September 2001.

On 28 June 2002, the SCP-New York responded to these objections by pointing out that it was in fact the Bush Administration that had been and continued to be "disrespectful to the dead"; that had failed to protect the occupants of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon from attack, despite warnings from all over the world; that had used these attacks as justification for attacking and occupying Afghanistan, when 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia; that had used "the war on terrorism" as the pretext for repealing the Bill of Rights and carrying out first-strike attacks against an ever-growing list of countries that had nothing to do with 11 September 2001. "And so, if we speak out against the Bush Administration and perform against video surveillance on 11 September 2001," the SCP-New York explained, "we will actually be showing 'the dead' the utmost respect: an unwavering commitment to the truth."

Contact the Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail SCP-New York

By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998

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