Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib left Detroit’s police chief outraged and insulted after a tour of his department’s new video surveillance facility — by telling him he should only hire black employees to be facial recognition analysts, a report said.
“I think non-African-Americans think African Americans all look the same,” the freshman congresswoman told the city’s top cop, James Craig, during a tour of the department’s Public Safety Headquarters, The Detroit News reported.
“Analysts need to be African-American, not people that are not,” she insisted during the tour, which was open to the press and which left several officials outraged.
Craig protested immediately, telling Tlaib that he trusts “people who are trained, regardless of race, regardless of gender.”
Afterward, he told the News, “It’s insulting We have a diverse group of crime analysts, and what she said — that non-whites should not work in that capacity because they think all black people look alike — is a slap in the face to all the men and women in the crime center.”
Tlaib has been critical of facial recognition software. She was invited to visit the facility in person after she tweeted in August a link to a news story about Sen. Bernie Sanders calling for a federal ban on the technology.
The lawmaker included a caption addressed to the Detroit Police Department, telling them “You should probably rethink this whole facial recognition bull—-.”
After Monday’s meeting, Tlaib was asked by a Detroit News reporter if by her remarks she meant that white people aren’t fit to analyze facial recognition software.
“No, I think there has actually been studies out that it’s hard for — African Americans would identify African Americans, or Latinos, same thing.”
The next day in a prepared response, Tlaib’s spokesperson Denzel McCampbell provided the newspaper with a link to the study in question.
“The studies (Tlaib mentioned are) related to cross-race effect or other-race effect,” McCampbell said.
“This has shown that individuals are less accurate when identifying people from a race other than their own.
“Detroit has a black population of more than 80%, so that is where her basis came from and what she was trying to convey when it comes to accurate identification.”