We've all heard about brave fire-fighters being asked to rescue pussies stuck up trees (ouch, sorree!), but Saturday's call out surely took the biscuit. "Randy Sandy," a blow-up doll, had been stuck on one of Brighton's CCTV cameras by activists pointing out that camera technology is now so advanced it can strip people of their clothes! Brighton Police however were not amused and rung for the fire brigade to remove offending objects including a startled-looking Sandy.
Nine other cameras were also targeted by activists - stirred into action by a talk on surveillance at Justice's? Direct Action Conference. Apart from Sandy, one camera had a bag put over its head, while one resident refused to come down for two hours from a pole, complaining that it looks straight into his bedroom window. Meanwhile a mobile spy camera was placed on a nearby block of flats watching the entrance of the Conference and later in the day two cops walked into a crowded pub and arrested someone they'd spotted on their "rogues gallery." Brighton's CCTV control room is linked up to a face recognition programme which has a role call of people on the "wanted list" enabling them to cross check files on known activists and pick up any they consider to be wanted.
(Originally published in SchNEWS 119, Friday 16th May 1997.)
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