Michigan representative Rashida Tlaib (D.) told the Detroit police chief his facial recognition analysts should only be African Americans because "non-African Americans think all African Americans look the same."
The Washington Examiner reported that Tlaib criticized the Detroit police department during a tour of its Real Time Crime Center. Tlaib told Police Chief James Craig the facial recognition program's analysts "need to be African Americans, not people that are not. Because let me tell you, no, it happens all the time. It's true. I think non-African Americans think African Americans all look the same."
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"I've seen it even on the House floor," Tlaib added. "People calling Elijah Cummings John Lewis and John Lewis Elijah Cummings. And they're totally different people. I'm just saying."
Rep. @RashidaTlaib said facial recognition techs need to be African-American because "non-African Americans" think all black people look alike.
— Washington Examiner (@dcexaminer) October 3, 2019
Craig pushed back on Tlaib's criticism.
"I trust people who are trained. Regardless of race, regardless of gender," he said.
"I know. But it does make a huge difference," Tlaib said.
Craig, who is black, told Fox 2 Detroit he thought Tlaib's remarks were racist.
"It's a double standard. Certainly as the police chief of this city, if I had made a similar comment, people would be outraged. They'd be calling for my resignation," he said.
"I'm not even going to try to understand why the comments were made. Let's just simply say it was improper. It wasn't right. And we should be talking about other things," he said.
Craig also told the Detroit News multiple members of his staff were outraged by Tlaib's remarks.
"We have a diverse group of crime analysts, and what she said … is a slap in the face to all the men and women in the crime center," he said.
The Detroit News asked Tlaib if her comments meant she believed non-whites should not work as crime analysts in predominantly white communities.
"Look it up," she responded.
The department had invited Tlaib to tour its facility because of her past criticism of its facial recognition software. The freshman congresswoman doubled down on her criticism Wednesday, tweeting she "cannot in good conscience sit by while inaccurate facial recognition technology is deployed in ways that run the risk of false arrests and overpolicing." She did not address her comments about only hiring African Americans.