SOS VIDEO SURVEILLANCE is a group founded in 1997 and opposed to the decision made in February 1997 by the "leftist" municipality to install a network of video surveillance network designed to watch public places.
A certain number of responsible associations, cultural activists and sports fans wrote to the Mayor of the commune, the "dissident" Maurice Charrier (he quit the Communist Party and rallied "alternatives"), telling him everything they thought was wrong with his security initiative.
The Mayor and his majority (Socialist Party, Communist Party, Red/Green Alternative) didn't care. They brazenly adhered to their original engagements, especially during the presidential campaign, and also during the legislative sessions that followed. Delegations, meetings, and tentative negotiations all came to nothing. The camera program remained in place.
Thus the decision was made to create SOS VIDEO SURVEILLANCE.
The originality, here, lies is the fact that this town was the first reclaimed by the left to decide to adopt total-security and the logic of Villepinte's symposium. (This symposium permits "the left" to discard that which distinguishes it from the Right where matters of repression are concerned.)
Vaulx-en-Velin opened the road and "justified" the decisions later taken in Lyon, by the socialist Gerard Colomb and the Green Gilles Buna, to install more than 10 cameras in their respective neighborhoods.
Under these conditions, it becomes clear that only the development of action "of the terrain" will alert and sharply emphasize the responsibilities of each. SOS VIDEO SURVEILLANCE lauches itself.
A petition was drawn up. In several days, over 500 people signed it. The debates were shown on TLM, a regional TV station. Several actions were taken, more "direct" ones are envisioned, including the wrapping of a surveillance camera with a garbage bag. . . . Press conferences, participation in diverse meetings followed.
Among the many advantages of taking action is the opportunity to form bonds with other groups, such as "Smile, you're being filmed!" [Levallois] and "No to Big Brother" (Lyon), etc etc. This permits us to measure all of the possibilities of developing initiatives.
Thanks to the Mayor and his "innovative" video surveillance network, Vaulx-en-Velin won an "award" from the [annual] Big Brother Awards: the city government with the worst attacks on individual liberties.
Today, our problems are to come out of a sort of breathlessness, born of longevity, and the difficulty of permanent combat against a security logic that doesn't cease to be affirmed.
The national week of struggle against video surveillance, during the course of which we will be associated with initiatives taken in Lyon, will aid us.
(Published in No to Electronic Watchtowers: Elements of Reflection on Video Surveillance. Translated from the French November 2003 by Bill Brown.)
By e-mail SCP@notbored.org
By snail mail: SCP c/o NOT BORED! POB 1115, Stuyvesant Station, New York City 10009-9998