First Black Tape, Then Illegal Surveillance of Black Students – Have Things at Harvard Gone Too Far?
Cambridge, MA — Early Tuesday, April 5, four Harvard Law School students found a voice-activated recording device in Belinda Hall. The device appears to have been used to spy on a group of students on campus for several days.
According to Keaton Allen-Gessesse, a third-year student, “In this time frame, Belinda Hall hosted admitted students engaging in personal conversation, a sexual assault bystander training complete with survivor narratives, and tenants from the Greater Boston area sharing their stories of eviction.”
“Someone went out of their way to buy an expensive, sophisticated piece of equipment,” said third-year student Rena Karefa-Johnson. She added, “given the criminal nature of the act, we have spent the last few days consulting with counsel to ensure the protection of all potentially harmed parties.”
“We think that this was an intentional effort to surveil our movement,” said third-year student Bianca Harlow. “Recording oral communication without the consent of all involved parties is a violation of our community standards and Massachusetts law.”
“Surveillance as a tactic to suppress movements is not new – it has been used historically by the government, institutions, and individuals to dismantle racial justice movements by pre-empting action planning, publicly distorting internal dialogues, and chilling speech,” said second-year student Titilayo Rasaki.
Second-year student Simmi Kaur stated, “It’s a threat: no space is yours.”