Wrong direction for camera protests - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

Wrong direction for camera protests

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Posted: Sunday, April 26, 2009 5:01 pm | Updated: 3:04 am, Sat Oct 8, 2011.

Our View: Last Sunday’s unwarranted killing of the driver of a freeway photo enforcement van while he was talking to his wife by cell phone was horrifying, as 68-year-old Thomas Patrick Destories is accused of driving past the van and deliberately firing his gun several times directly at the driver’s window.

Last Sunday’s unwarranted killing of the driver of a freeway photo enforcement van while he was talking to his wife by cell phone was horrifying, as 68-year-old Thomas Patrick Destories is accused of driving past the van and deliberately firing his gun several times directly at the driver’s window.

But nearly as chilling is how some opponents of speed cameras have tried to rationalize the killing or to shift the blame to someone else other than who is accused of the shooting. Nearly everyone agrees the van driver’s death was unacceptable.

But some people have suggested they can understand why a speed-camera critic might choose to fire bullets into an empty photo enforcement van.

Certainly, Sunday’s attack could be seen merely as a more extreme form of other recent “protests” against speed cameras that have included assault with a pick ax, placing boxes with Christmas wrapping paper over the camera housing, and covering the lens shields with Post-It notes. All of these actions take a similar approach to disrupt or disable the cameras as protesters have yet to convince the state or most local governments to turn them off.

No wonder law enforcement was swift to condemn even nonviolent meddling with the cameras, and sought to fully prosecute those protesters who were caught. There appears to be a slippery-slope mentality out there that unsuccessful efforts to keep the cameras from operating should be answered with more extreme — and more violent — responses.

None of these actions should be acceptable in a civilized society as there are plenty of legitimate means to shut down speed cameras.

Arizona’s appellate courts never have addressed doubts about their constitutionality. The Legislature has shown plenty of interest in ending the state program and reforming how photo enforcement is generally used.

And, in the ultimate power of the people, several initiative petitions are being circulated with the goal of banning the use of speed cameras to punish civic traffic violations.

If none of these routes work for speed-camera protesters, then they should realize the real problem is with their own attitudes and priorities, and not the cameras themselves. 

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