Rep. Rashida Tlaib Pushes for Hiring Only African-American Facial Recognition Analysts

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) takes part in a panel discussion led by Aimee Allison, touching the changes of the face of power in the United States after a history making number of diverse members were sworn into Congress the past elections, during a keynote discussion of the Netroots Nation progressive grassroots convention in Philadelphia, PA, on July 13, 2019.  (Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Rep. Rashida Tlaib Pushes for Hiring Only African-American Facial Recognition Analysts

Tlaib calls out a flawed facial recognition system that is used to find and identify suspects. Often, incorrectly.

Published October 2nd

Written by Angela Wilson

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders was the first presidential candidate to call for a national ban on facial recognition software by law enforcement. Michigan’s Rep. Rashida Tlaib agrees with him and is pushing the agenda in her state. 

On Monday October 1, during a tour of the Detroit Police Department’s Real Time Crime Center, Tlaib told the African-American Detroit police chief she thinks he should only hire Black facial recognition analysts because “non African-Americans think African-Americans all look the same.”

While viewing live video footage from traffic lights around the city, she explained to police chief, James Craig, how “analysts need to be African-Americans, not people [who] are not.”

After Craig shook his head at her recommendation, she pushed, “No, this happens all the time. It’s true.”

As an example, the 43-year-old Rep. cited the media’s confusion with telling the difference between Rep. Elijah Cummings and Rep. John Lewis, who are frequently confused by non-African Americans. She explained, “They’re totally different people. I’m just saying,” Tlaib concluded. 

Craig responded to Tlaib’s suggestion, stating, “I trust people who are trained, regardless of [their] race and regardless of gender. It is about the training.”

“But it does make a huge difference,” Tlaib persisted, claiming the facial recognition error rate among African-Americans, especially women, was 60 percent.

Later, Tlaib’s spokesman verified Tlaib’s statements to The Detroit News by including a link to a Memorial University of Newfoundland study, which, “has shown that individuals are less accurate when identifying people from a race other than their own.” 

Said Tlaib’s spokesperson, “Detroit has a Black population of more than 80%, so that is where [Rep. Tlaib’s] basis [for her argument] came from and what she was trying to convey when it comes to accurate identification.”

Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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