Social media erupted over the weekend after a video went viral of a New York Police Department officer recording fans as they left Drake’s first show at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Now, the NYPD is providing more context, claiming that an officer was recording fans to use it on social media.
“The officer depicted in the video is a Community Affairs officer involved with the 28th Precinct’s social media team,” read a statement. “The officer was taking video for an upcoming Twitter post that will highlight local community events.”
“The video will not be utilized for any other reason,” the department added.
A New York Times reporter leaving the show recorded an officer as he filmed a video of those exiting the storied Harlem venue.
Still, privacy advocates — such as the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project in New York City — called the officer’s actions “highly concerning,” asking NYPD to destroy the content.
“This is yet another example of NYPD’s racist use of surveillance technology, following the department’s long legacy of targeting rap concerts. We’re deeply concerned facial recognition may have been involved, and demand the department destroy any footage it took,” Will Owen of STOP told Gothamist. “This is the latest proof that the city and state must ban its use at venues once and for all.”
New York City Mayor Eric Adams, for his part, defended the police department’s decision, describing it as a “creative” way of engaging with the local community. “Thumbs up to that great captain,” Adams said of Captain Tarik Sheppard, who heads the 28th Precinct, per Gothamist. “And I encourage all of my commanding officers to be creative on how we engage with our residents. That was a safe event.”
The reaction comes after New York lawmakers introduced a new bill to try and ban the use of facial recognition to remove lawyers litigating against Madison Square Garden at its events.