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‘They Will Run It Through Facial Recognition Software’: NYPD Responds to Video of Officer Recording Fans Leaving Drake Concert at the Apollo Theater 

The NYPD is stealing some of Drake‘s thunder after his much-anticipated concert at Harlem’s famed Apollo Theater over the weekend.

A heavy police presence crowding the doors saw a single officer recording concertgoers as they left the theater, prompting privacy and facial recognition concerns.

“NYPD videorecording every person leaving the Drake Apollo show,” someone on Twitter quote tweeted before adding, “And they will run it through facial recognition software. Another good reason to wear a mask.”

The concert delivered a memorable showcase of Drake’s life before a “packed-out theater,” journalist Landon Buford wrote on his website.

The concert happened on Jan. 21 after some delays. “Drake was supposed to perform at the Apollo back in November, but he postponed it because he was mourning the death of Takeoff,” TMZ reported.

The concert was delayed again in December due to production issues, TMZ added.

Stars the likes of Kevin Durant, Odell Beckham Jr., Justin and Hailey Bieber and A$AP Ferg were all in attendance, according to Buford.

The hyped concert had to pause about 90 minutes into the show when a fan fell from an upper-level balcony down onto the orchestra area Variety reports. A Twitter user recorded the moment a production crew member informed Drake and 21 Savage of the incident.

Apollo Theater confirmed EMS responded to the victim and no major injuries were reported. The theater says it is investigating.

The fan experience took a turn as a slew of officers watched them carefully leaving the venue.

“NYPD hitting Drake shows with facial recognition for patrons on the way out. Let’s see if they keep the same energy at a Rod Stewart or Billy Joel concert,” another Twitter user wrote.

A spokesman for NYPD said to Atlanta Black Star, “The officer depicted in the video is a Community Affairs officer involved with the 28th Precinct’s social media team. The officer was taking video for an upcoming Twitter post that will highlight local community events. The video will not be utilized for any other reason.”

NYPD has been in the spotlight for its use of facial recognition technology over the last decade.

“The NYPD has the ability to track people in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx by running images from 15,280 surveillance cameras into invasive and discriminatory facial recognition software,” according to Amnesty International.

Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, an advocacy group opposed to surveillance practices, said in a 2020 report the “NYPD conducted 22,069 facial recognition searches” between October 2016 and October 2019.

Facial recognition technology disproportionately impacts communities of color, Brookings found in a study. The study also revealed “one out of four state and local law enforcement agencies had access to the technology.”

The NYPD spent $277 million in “secret surveillance equipment” that previously had been “hidden” from the public in the Special Expenses Program Forbes reported, drawing criticism from government watchdog groups. The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project says this controversial secrecy agreement ended up being terminated. 

“NYPD recording every single person exiting the Apollo after the Drake show. Eric Adams is a legit supervillain,” Dee Phunk wrote on Twitter.

Drake NYPD
NYPD cop records Drake concertgoers at Apollo theater. (Photo: Twitter joncaramanica/HotFreestyle)

“Facial Recognition on [people] who have committed crimes on camera and haven’t been caught or are wanted in the state of New York,” an Instagram user said.

Concerns about facial recognition technology are valid, as several Black people have fallen victim to its flaws. Nijeer Parks, Robert Williams and Michael Oliver were all wrongfully arrested because of “erroneous matches” by the facial recognition program, the New York Times reported.

“All three cases were eventually dropped, but in Parks’ case, that took almost a year, including 10 days in jail,” according to information source Wired.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found that “facial-analysis software shows an error rate of 0.8 percent for light-skinned men, and 34.7 percent for dark-skinned women.”

New York City Mayor Eric Adams praised the technology last year in remarks about the city’s gun violence problem.

“If you’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – no matter what, they can see and identify who you are without violating the rights of people. It’s going to be used for investigatory purposes,” Adams said, according to Politico.

At least one Black social media user didn’t mind the police video recording.

“I see nothing wrong here. Don’t do the crime, and you have nothing to worry about. I’m sick of dudes getting mad about safety,” a Twitter user said.

As of this report, Drake has not commented through his social media channels on the controversy that followed the show.

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