Bill Balaskas

 

Bill Balaskas & Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, Before the bullet hits the body, 2021, ground mural at Pedion tou Areos.

The work takes its title from the seminal 2018 report by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, which led to the dismantlement of “predictive” policing programmes of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The algorithm presented at Pedion tou Areos describes an area’s predicted rate of crimes based on its historical average rate of crimes combined with recent trends. The Coalition’s community organizing expanded the critique of LAPD’s algorithm beyond just questioning the “feedback loop,” showing how police use the veneer of science to mask their violence and, thus, exposing crime data as a social construct intended to contain, control, and criminalize Black, brown, and poor communities. The Coalition argued that surveillance and crime data create the conditions of police violence “before the bullet hits the body.” These conditions include incidents of police brutality like the 2020 killing of George Floyd, which led to global protests by the Black Lives Matter movement. The installation adopts the visual language of these protests, which included slogans written on major roads in the U.S. Along with the installation at Pedion tou Areos, the project consists of a curated presentation of the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition’s work on Stegi’s website and a series of online discussions.