Free Radicals was first founded in Los Angeles as a small collective of Asian American activists in April 2015 who wanted to explore the intersection of science and social justice through the development of a blog. Over the past three years, the Los Angeles Chapter has grown into a diverse group of disaffected scientists, radical educators, and community organizers. The Los Angeles Chapter creates political education resources in support of local grassroots campaigns:
War on Drugs, War on Gangs, broken windows and now… predictive policing. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has always implemented racist policing practices to target, surveil, and harass Los Angeles’ Black and Brown communities. Now, LAPD is using algorithms to practices these same racist policing practices under the guise of objective science. Data is not inherently objective, but reflects the ideological and biases of its creators. Free Radicals is partnered with the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition to demand LAPD dismantle its predictive policing programs: PredPol and Operation LASER. These predictive policing programs only serve to operationalize the racial biases that have always been present in LAPD, while diverting accountability from the violent institution of policing. Learn more HERE. As part of this partnership, Free Radicals and Stop LAPD Spying Coalition developed the Algorithmic Ecology framework and organizing tool which is used to map, visualize, and the communicate the fight against violent algorithms like PredPol.
Although cities have opened their doors to universities and tech giants, these moneyed industries often concentrate wealth for wealthier (and predominantly white) professionals, while often displacing neighboring low-income communities of color. Free Radicals is working to combat this form of gentrification, which we call sciencewashing, or the practice of using science to gloss over the impacts of displacement. Specifically, we fighting the development of a biotech corridor stretching from USC’s Health Sciences campus in Boyle Heights to Cal State LA’s campus in El Sereno, cutting a swathe through neighborhoods that are actively resisting gentrification.