Published on Jul 13, 2020
In this time of grief and uprising, we have been examining the ways that we, as a company, have supported systems that destroy Black lives, and what we can do to meet this moment of possibility. It is slow work and much of it should be quiet work.
Over the past ten years, we have come to know that policing in America is not compatible with a healthy, equitable democracy; that policing in America destroys precious Black lives like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Rekia Boyd, Quintonio LeGrier, Bettie Jones, Harith Augustus, and Laquan McDonald.
It is to our regret that we did not always have this understanding. Between 2012 and 2015, DataMade built the following tools that support policing:
DataMade has developed sites like CrimeAround.us that uncritically display crime report data published by the City of Chicago. When Black communities are over-policed, the policing itself produces a high volume of crime reports. These communities are then characterized as high-crime, justifying even more policing.
Under the Open City group, we built a website called CAPSure that promoted the Chicago Police Department’s community policing (CAPS) program. Community policing is a strategy that the City itself has already mostly defunded and abandoned, has been proven to be ineffective at fostering peaceful communities, and serves as a rhetorical device that mystifies and conceals basic contradictions between reality and society’s aspirations.
We regret that we did these projects, and are beginning to work through how to repair harms that our work has caused. We have taken down every site we control that has supported police and redirected it to this statement or a similar one written in partnership with our clients.
DataMade cannot support this institution of policing and we call on our colleagues in the civic tech and larger tech community to divest themselves of technologies and contracts that support policing and incarceration.
One step we are taking now, publicly, is to say that DataMade will never again build tools or technology that supports policing or incarceration.
With our staff and community we will be finding the appropriate reparations for the harms we have caused. We will follow up with a post in Fall 2020 about further steps we have identified that more broadly repair and prevent further harm.
We encourage other civic tech organizations to reflect on their own work and evaluate if and how they have benefitted from or support systems of oppression in America. Injustices are not just perpetuated by distant, powerful institutions, but by our own organizations and under our own reckoning and control. If we want to contribute to realizing a just world, we have to do the work.