Feathered Bastard

Video of Alleged Photo Radar Attacker Travis Munroe Townsend

Right off the bat, I have to say that in this video Travis Munroe Townsend, 26, the alleged attacker of a Glendale photo enforcement camera (and, if guilty, an American hero, in my opinion), doesn't look a thing like the photo of him released yesterday by DPS. In that pic, he looked like some blond college dood. In this video, released today by the Arizona Superior Court, he looks darker and with facial hair. (Unless that's just bad lighting.) DPS tells me yesterday's photo was from his Arizona state driver's license. Which I guess makes sense. Who looks like their driver's license mug shot? Especially since in AZ, your driver's license doesn't expire till you're 65.

Townsend had the gonads to do what we all think of doing, but would never act on because we don't want to get arrested and go to jail: i.e., take a pickax to one of those bloody photo enforcement devices. For this, he will face one count of criminal damage, one count of interfering with signs and signals, and one count of criminal trespass. This is not something I personally would have done. Nor is it something that I would advise or encourage folks to do. On the other hand, if Townsend ever sets up a defense fund for himself, I'd be tempted to send him a $20 donation to help pay for his lawyer.

I motor down the 51 every day, going through three of these enforcement zones on the way to the office. And every time I get on that freeway, I curse Janet Napolitano, Redflex and anyone else I can think of who's involved with this highway robbery. Those cameras are a constant, annoying reminder that we're living in a police state, and the police state is paying close attention.

Spare me, please, the bull that this is about safety. We all know this is about money. Nappy herself said she expected photo enforcement tickets to raise $90 million for the state budget. This, from a politico who likely does not have to drive herself anywhere.

I used to live in California, and there, the trick question on the driver's test was, "You are driving on a freeway posted for 65 MPH. The traffic is traveling at 70 MPH. You may legally drive: a) 75 mph or less; b) 70 mph or less; or c) 65 mph or less." The right answer is "b." That's because you're supposed to go with the flow of traffic.

I know, we're not in California. We're in Arizona, where we take what's shoved down our throats, right? Townsend apparently felt differently. I think a lot of people feel differently. The people adding Post-it notes to the speed cameras or spraying them with Silly String, have a less violent method of dealing with the situation, and a rather ingenious one, I might add.

The activists over at CameraFraud.com have an even better idea than the two cited above: grassroots activism, and a push for a proposition to ban the speed cameras.

I would advise folks to go the CameraFraud.com approach, mainly because we can win this thing, people. CameraFraud.com recently issued a statement concerning Mr. Townsend's pickax solution to the dilemma:

There is a significant difference between civil disobedience and mindless damage. It's unfortunate that the person chose not to follow the example of Rosa Parks or Gandhi, both of whom protested against oppressive government by thoughtfully and peacefully breaking the laws they felt to be unjust. In addition, the person arrested was not member of CameraFRAUD.com's public Meetup group.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons