Posted on August 18, 2020

NYPD Used Facial Recognition to Track Down Black Lives Matter Activist

James Vincent, The Verge, August 18, 2020

The New York City Police Department used facial recognition software to track down a Black Lives Matter activist accused of assault after allegedly shouting into a police officer’s ear with a bullhorn. The mayor’s office says it will “reassess” standards for using facial recognition after criticism that the case shows the technology being used indiscriminately.

On August 7th, the police department sent dozens of officers, including some in riot gear, to the home of 28-year-old activist Derrick Ingram. A stand-off followed, live-streamed by Ingram on Instagram, during which he repeatedly asked officers to produce a search warrant. They refused to do so. After protestors supporting Ingram flocked to the street, the NYPD stood down and Ingram turned himself into the police the next day.

The NYPD has been criticized for the disproportionate show of force in pursuing Ingram, and now also for its use of facial recognition software to track him down. Video of the August 7th standoff captured by FreedomNewsTV shows officers outside Ingram’s home examining a document titled “Facial Identification Section Informational Lead Report,” which includes what appears to be a photo of Ingram taken from his Instagram.


In response to the report, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio told Gothamist that his office would reexamine the standards for police use of facial recognition. “We have to be very careful and very limited with our use of anything involving facial recognition,” said de Blasio. “Those standards need to be reassessed. It’s something I will do with my team and with the NYPD.”