This is Where Surveillance Happens

By Aura Bogado Apr 28, 2014

The New York Police Department recently dismantled its Muslim surveillance operation. The controversial program, known as the Demographics Unit, profiled Muslims of all ages, and even crossed state lines to do so.  

But where, exactly, did this surveillance take place? A new project by Josh Begley–the data artist behind @dronestream–has published about 400 images found in 45 or so documents related to the unit. The images on are of places like delis, community centers, restaurants, cricket fields, pickup soccer parks and more that the NYPD deemed suspicious. Begley points out that documents he scoured, courtesy of Associate Press, are "pretty wild to read." Take Newark Fried Chicken in New Jersey, for example, the place for which the complete "information of note" reads:

Owned and operated by Afghanis.
Location is medium size fast food restaurant that sells fried chicken, and cold drinks.
Location is in good location and has seating capacity for 10 to 15 customers.

Nothing noteworthy, right? Yet the fried chicken joint aroused suspicion.

The documents detail the nationality of owners and/or those who frequent the surveillance locations–and many times, it’s not just Muslims who gather there. Begley also reminds us that although the NYPD has shut down its Demographic Unit, this kind of surveillance hasn’t stopped. "As as Hina Shamsi and folks at the ACLU will tell you, the catalogue of violence continues," says Begley.

You can see all the images on