9/19/2008Arizona: Cops Arrest Man at Anti-Camera Demonstration
Police in Scottsdale, Arizona arrest man a second time at anti-camera protest. Update: Intimidation, or capture of an eBay scammer?
Police in Scottsdale, Arizona are continuing to crack down on those who disagree with the city's photo enforcement policies. Jason Shelton, 36, was arrested yesterday at around 6pm while videotaping more than a dozen activists who peacefully stood on the red light camera-equipped street corner of Shea Boulevard waving signs. The signs described automated ticketing machines as "scameras" and urged passing motorists to visit CameraFraud.com, the group responsible for organizing the event.
"Bring your favorite sign expressing your views on the fraudulent cameras, or use one of ours," the announcement for Thursday's protest stated. "Be ready to have some fun with some passionate citizens who care."
Scottsdale Police cared enough to send four undercover officers in a pair of unmarked white GMC vans to monitor and videotape the event (view vans). According to eyewitness accounts provided to TheNewspaper, Shelton at one point walked over to the vans assuming they were driven by employees of Redflex, the private Australian company that operates speed camera vans for the state. As soon as Shelton got near with his camera, irate officers wearing jeans and military-style ballistic vests leaped from the vans to arrest Shelton who was armed only with a cardboard sign and a camera (view arrest photo).
Last month, Scottsdale Police arrested Shelton on the charge of "obstructing of government operations" because he videotaped a similar protest involving a Redflex speed camera van. Last Friday, police ordered a private speed camera operator to conduct surveillance of a camera protest planning meeting held at Peter Piper Pizza on East MacDowell Road. While devoting a significant amount of resources to deal with the peaceful protest, police solved only 33 percent of robbery cases in Scottsdale according to the department's 2006 annual report. Similarly, a total of 158 serious assault cases and 3151 automobile burglary and vandalism cases went unresolved.
Update: Scottsdale Police released a statement claiming the charges against Shelton were related to an alleged eBay auction scam, not the photo enforcement protest.
"SPD learned of a planned photo enforcement demonstration by a group that Mr. Shelton associated with," Scottsdale Police said in the statement. "Detectives went to the publicized demonstration site to locate and arrest Shelton. Once there, Mr. Shelton was located and arrested without incident at 6:45 PM. Shelton was booked on a single felony Theft/Fraud charge and held in custody."