Sandra Bland‘s death in 2015 ignited a long overdue national discussion on prison reform and police brutality. In the last two months alone, we’ve witnessed the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police—and more recently, Terence Crutcher and Keith Lamont Scott.
Inspired by Sandra Bland’s video series, “Sandy Speaks,” in which Bland discussed police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, NY multimedia artist, American Artist, created a chatbot that answers questions about police procedure, privacy, prison reform and surveillance as a way to examine the relationship between technology and surveillance, and to info for people who may be unaware of their rights.
“The conflictual [sic] relationship between United States law enforcement and the public is mediated through surveillance,” said American Artist in the bot’s outline. “In lieu of strategies such as dashcams, body cams, and pedestrian cell phone footage—sold as strategies to keep police officers under control—police brutality and lethal use of force has escalated. Increased surveillance only serves to protect the interests of those in power, a principle epitomized by the case of Sandra Bland.”
In all of her videos, Bland greeted her audience with the phrase, “Good morning Kings and Queens!”—the chatbot does the same, before encouraging the user to ask any questions about Bland, the police or prison reform. American Artist urges users to ask the bot everything from “What can you tell me about prison?” and “What is Black Lives Matter?” to “Am I required to put out my cigarette if I get pulled over?” and “What are my rights if I get arrested?”
Try “Sandy Speaks,” below.