By Ray Stern
Scottsdale police swooped down on a peaceful photo radar protest last night and arrested activist Jason Shelton [pictured] for the second time in three weeks.
As one photo-radar watchdog Web site reports today, this was another "crack down on those who disagree with the city's photo enforcement policies." The site posts a few photos of the bust along with a short article. Here's the article's description of what happened to Shelton:
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.
Trouble is, the Web site article only got part of the story.
In fact, Shelton was arrested in connection with an eBay scam in which a would-be Canadian car buyer was shirked out of $12,300. [Note -- The Web site updated its article soon after this post was published].
Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark tells New Times that Shelton put a car on eBay in January and accepted a $12,300 payment from a Canadian buyer. The buyer wired the money to Shelton's bank account, but never received the vehicle.
Police have been conducting an investigation since then -- months before Shelton's last arrest in late August. But Clark says police had to wait to nab Shelton until they could obtain bank and eBay records that had been subpoened.
The car Shelton had offered for sale, a 1988 Pontiac Fiero, was found in February at his Scottsdale home and impounded. But it was more difficult to find Shelton, 36, this week, when the cops were ready to make the arrest. Then an anti-photo-radar group called camerafraud.com announced it would be holding a protest on Thursday evening, Clark says. Police figured Shelton would come, and he did.
That's the only reason police were monitoring the protest, Clark says. The protesters were staked out at a photo-enforcement-equipped intersection, asking passers-by to honk if they didn't like photo radar. They were doing nothing wrong and weren't blocking the camera's view, Clark says.
Police realized they were in dicey territory, PR-wise. Their hunch about Shelton had panned out, but police didn't want to be accused of disrupting the demonstration. So they waited an hour as Shelton protested with a few other activists.
"We were in no hurry to go up and make a scene at the corner of Scottsdale Road and Shea," Clark says.
When Shelton meandered over toward police and began videotaping them, police handcuffed him. [This picture of Shelton's arrest came from thenewspaper.com's article].
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Unlike the last time he was arrested, Shelton was very cooperative, Clark says. Shelton was later booked into Maricopa County jail on a felony theft charge.
Sometimes an arrest at a peaceful political protest advances the cause.
This wasn't one of those times.