Private Eyes
Don't smile -- you're on candid cameras

Have you noticed the growing number of surveillance cameras in Manhattan's public spaces? Well, the Surveillance Camera Players spotted this trend a decade ago and have since been doing their part to inform people about it. According to Bill Brown, the group's co-founder, the SCP was spawned by the actions of Giuliani. "In 1996, [he] started reintroducing police cameras into New York City -- in subways, parks, and housing developments. They are a clear violation of the Fourth Amendment," says Brown. "It's a primary tool of racial profiling, and it allows cops and security guards to be voyeurs."

Aside from taunting Big Brother with performances in front of cameras around the city (their first was Ubu the King by Alfred Jarry), the players have also been leading walking tours just about every Sunday since 2000. But they don't practice heavy-handed political preaching. Brown, who holds a Ph.D. in American literature and runs these excursions in his free time, says, "I don't give a left-wing rant. These tours are simply meant to inform people -- because knowledge is power."

At 2 [on 30 July 2006], meet at the southeast intersection of Broadway and Warren Street, 212-561-0106,, free.

(Written by Ken Switzer and published in the 25 July 2006 issue of The Village Voice.)

Contact the New York Surveillance Camera Players

By e-mail

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