#924: A Letter to Send

May 7th, 2018

If Senate Bill 2562 passes, police in Illinois will be able to use drones to spy on any group of 100 or more people assembling peacefully.

Bill sponsor Sen. Martin Sandoval (D-Chicago) sold the measure that would let police spy on protest rallies by arguing it would prevent mass shootings.

The bill will pass if the House approves it.

The following is an edited version of an email I sent my House representative this morning. My hope is that it inspires you to write your own letters to your own representatives about why you feel this bill should fail. To quote James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

Use this form to find your representative.

My name is Paul Dailing. [Explanation where I live in the district.] We’re invested in the community, and I hope you’re invested in us.

There’s a bill that just passed the Senate and is heading toward you in the House. It will allow police to use spy drones to surveil and monitor peaceful gatherings of more than 100 people exercising their First Amendment right to assemble. The reasoning is popular and spurious.

Sen. Sandoval sold this measure by citing the mass slaughter of civilians in the Las Vegas shooting, whipping up the cowardly and paranoid of the Senate by talking about the true, terrifying fact the Las Vegas killer booked a room — but didn’t show up — near Lollapalooza.

How would a police surveillance drone have stopped the Las Vegas shooter? If you can’t answer that question, don’t vote for this bill.

I am not making light of the mourning families and friends of those killed. This bill is. This bill is making an absolute mockery of their deaths by using it as an excuse to monitor American citizens through a completely irrelevant, spurious argument.

The bill argues for increased police surveillance by citing a situation that surveillance would not have helped one bit. An unarmed drone eavesdropping on a crowd would have not stopped bullets sprayed from nearby private hotel property. It couldn’t have stopped a bullet. It wouldn’t have saved a life. By nature of the surveillance Sandoval’s bill promotes, the camera would be pointed at the killed, not the killer. It would just be one more finger pointing in the direction of the bullets as the dead lay around.

All this argument is doing is propping up the dead bodies of a terrible tragedy to raise the emotional stakes so that we’re scared enough to trade our First Amendment freedoms for a sense of security. But there’s no security to be had here, just a politician using dead children to promote his agenda.

We’re in an age of protest — against Trump, against police abuse, for gay rights, against institutionalized racism and sexism. Those will be the real targets of the increased power to spy that SB 2562 gives police. None of these unarmed spy drones will knock a bullet out of the air. Each voting tally is just a list of the men and women of the Illinois General Assembly who are willing to sacrifice the First Amendment to preserve the Second.

I hope you’re not one of the elected officials willing to make that trade. I hope you convince others to make the right call and vote against this bill.

Thank you for your time.

Paul Dailing

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