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Tue Nov 3, 2020, 11:25 AM

Facial recognition used to identify Lafayette Square protester accused of assault

Hat tip, Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Greater Washington heads to the polls

By Libby Solomon (Writer and Editor) November 3, 2020

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Police identified a Lafayette Square protester with facial recognition
Authorities used facial recognition software to identify and arrest a man accused of assault during a June protest in Lafayette Square, the first public acknowledgment of the use of this software during President Donald Trumpís order to clear the area for a photo op. (Justin Jouvenal and Spencer S. Hsu / Post)

Legal Issues

Facial recognition used to identify Lafayette Square protester accused of assault

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By Justin Jouvenal and Spencer S. Hsu
November 2, 2020 at 1:45 p.m. EST

A line of U.S. Park Police officers pushed protesters back from Lafayette Square on June 1, firing pepper balls and rolling canisters spewing irritant gas into the retreating crowds on H Street NW, video shows.

Amid screams and smoke, a man in a tie-dye T-shirt pulled an officer to the ground and punched him in the face, before disappearing into the chaos, according to charging documents. ... The man grabbed another officer, before police caught up with him and attempted to make an arrest, authorities said. But the man wrestled free and vanished once again.

The protester might never have been identified, but an officer found an image of the man on Twitter and investigators fed it into a facial recognition system, court documents state. They found a match and made an arrest.

The court documents are believed to be the first public acknowledgment that authorities used the controversial technology in connection with the widely criticized sweep of largely peaceful protesters ahead of a photo op by President Trump. The case is one of a growing number nationwide in which authorities have turned to facial recognition software to help identify protesters accused of violence.

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Justin Jouvenal
Justin Jouvenal covers courts and policing in Fairfax County and across the nation. He joined The Post in 2009. Follow https://twitter.com/jjouvenal

Spencer Hsu
Spencer S. Hsu is an investigative reporter, two-time Pulitzer finalist and national Emmy Award nominee. Hsu has covered homeland security, immigration, Virginia politics and Congress. Follow https://twitter.com/hsu_spencer

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