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Santa Cruz Indymedia | Police State and Prisons

SURVEILLANCE CAMERA SABOTAGE CLAIM
by anonymous
Monday Nov 30th, 2009 9:27 PM
In late July and late October, 2009, attacks against intersection and freeway surveillance cameras took place in Santa Cruz County. Thirty cameras had their cables cut, rendering them inoperable. This was done as an act of resistance against increasingly pervasive surveillance technologies.
Through surveillance cameras installed everywhere, they can know our movements and activities. Through ATM and credit card databases, they can know what we purchase and where. Through telecommunication systems, they can monitor to whom we speak and the content of our conversation. Through the internet, they can trace our social networks and know what projects we work on. Modern technologies have perfected social control to a point never before imaginable, allowing the transformation of the entire urban space into an open-air prison.

In late July and late October, 2009, attacks against intersection and freeway surveillance cameras took place in Santa Cruz County. Thirty cameras had their cables cut, rendering them inoperable. This was done as an act of resistance against increasingly pervasive surveillance technologies.

We assume that a police state requires a massive presence of troops, tanks on street corners, and helicopters in the sky. The modern reality is much different. Progress has allowed those in power to replace menacing weapons with the omnipresence of their technological instruments. The most efficient police state is one that has no need to put police on display. The fact of being watched by an inanimate object rather than an armed person does nothing to change our suffocating condition. Even the psychological effects aside, there is always an agent behind a surveillance camera.

Cops and bureaucrats are likely to claim that the cameras are not used for surveillance. Though one cannot take anything they say at face value, this claim partly beside the point. Even unwatched surveillance cameras perform a repressive function. First, their presence accustoms us to being watched, making their proliferation a less frightening possibility. Second, as we become accustomed, the existing cameras prepare the way for more insidious detection and surveillance technology. Lastly, the feeling of being watched has strong psychological effects, not least among them is the normalization of behavior. This normalization of behavior, a “self-policing” of sorts, does not happen haphazardly—in fact, it happens neatly in line with business and government interests.

After Halloween this year, Police Chief Howard Skerry stated that the police helicopter had a certain “psychological effect”. The police are clear about the fact that they wish our communities to live in fear. Recently, cops and bureaucrats have advocated installing additional surveillance cameras in downtown Santa Cruz. We will continue to resist this totalitarian re-engineering of our world.

Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.

Keep Santa Cruz Weird.




HOW TO DISABLE INTERSECTION CAMERAS

You locate a camera at an intersection, open up the base plate for the pole that it is mounted on, pull out the camera's cables and cut them.

PLANNING AND EXECUTING AN ANTI-SURVEILLANCE ACTION

1) Scout out the locations of cameras in your town or city region and make a map. Once the map is made, examine camera locations to determine intersections and roads to focus on. You may want to free up certain routes of travel from cameras or you may just want to get them out of your neighborhood. You may even try to eliminate them from your city entirely.

2) Take note of which poles have cameras mounted on them (some poles may have multiple cameras mounted). Observe which direction the cameras are pointing and look around the area to see if there is a way to approach the base of the traffic poles while minimizing exposure to the cameras. Near the ground on the traffic pole is a base plate. The base plate is about one foot off of the ground and is either metal or plastic with the approximate dimensions of 4-inches by 5-inches. The base plate is where you can access the cameras cables. The base plate is typically held in place with a single screw that requires a six-sided hex wrench to unscrew (turn counter-clockwise to unscrew). Some base plates occasionally require a flat-head screw driver or other tool to remove. Also, observe what the cables look like that connect to the camera at the top of the pole. You will need to find these cables when you open the base plate. They are typically two separate black round wires or a single black wire (with the two wires integrated). When you open the base plate there will be a jumble of wires of different colors (red, white, green, etc.). The colorful wires are used for traffic lights and are easy to decipher from the black cables. You will cut the black wires.

3) Dress to conceal your features and to prevent the transfer of finger prints. Cold weather is a good time to do this type of action, as you can wear scarves, hats, and gloves without appearing conspicuous. Halloween might be another good time to go out. You want your face to be obscured to hide your identity should you be observed or archived on camera. Wear gloves when handling tools, the base plate or wires.

4) Clean your tools. You will need a wire cutter and a hex wrench set - find one that is not metric and has wrenches of different sizes as there is some variation in screw sizes used on the base plates. Occasionally, the base plate will require a flathead screwdriver. (In this town you will also need tin snips to cut through a metal band that the city has placed over the base plate after the first incident of camera sabotage occurred). Try to find wire cutters that have insulated handles certified for electrical work to reduce the chance of shock. Tools should be cleaned thoroughly of finger prints if you have touched them before, use mineral spirits to wipe them down. You may want to dispose of your wire cutters after use or file them down and store them in a safe place. These tools are fairly affordable or stealable. Try to acquire them long before the action from an area away from where the action will occur. Pay in cash if purchased.

5) Deployment considerations.
Aside from operating solo, there's a couple other formats to consider.

Street Demonstrations - A group of people who have experience with this method of sabotage could take advantage of street demonstrations to cut the wires of intersection cameras and then blend back into the crowd.

Small Group - This can be done with a group of trusted friends who coordinate their activities and select intersections to disable. You will want to consider whether to pair up, work alone, mob an intersection, or try some other combination. Maybe a small group could stand around and conceal the person gaining access to the camera wires.

6) Other Methods - Traffic cameras that are used for ticketing by taking a photo of your license plate when running a red light are often lower to the ground. These can often be spray-painted over as they are reachable from the ground. The cables on these cameras are typically protected by metallic flexible tubing requiring more than wire cutters to cut through.

EXPERIENCES

When the wires are cut there is typically one black wire that sparks and one that doesn't. The one that sparks is the power source. When the wires are cut, the positive and negative wires sometimes touch, this causes arcing of the electricity, which causes the spark. It is hoped that this occasionally causes a power surge and destroys the camera unit. Cutting this wire will sometimes cause pitting on the wire cutters. Of the thirty cameras cut only once was shock felt, only once was a loud "bzzzzt" sound heard along with a big spark, and occasionally all of the intersection lights would go out for some unexplained reason. These cameras don't require much voltage, so accidental shock should not lead to any injury to yourself. Wearing insulated gloves or shoes will add more layers of protection against shock if you want to be extra safe. DON'T DO THIS TYPE OF ACTIVITY IN THE RAIN! The wire that doesn't spark is used to transfer the images via fiber optic or coaxial cable. As far as I know the fiber optic cable cannot be spliced back together requiring the entire cable to be completely replaced.

The cameras you destroy will likely be repaired. But a war of attrition may make a camera surveillance network too costly for your city to maintain on its limited budget.