This Saturday 1-28-2012 a small protest took place at 39th and Southwest Trafficway in Kansas City MO. A recent study came out by the Kansas City Police Department indicating that the cameras do nothing for traffic safety except perhaps making it even worse at the intersections where they are installed. Tracy Ward, a local activist was on hand and organized the event. I noticed a couple of news station reporters on the scene as well.

Tracy Ward with a Liberty Restoration Project protest against KCMO's red light traffic cameras

On Saturday I caught up a bit with Tracy Ward and a few other members of the Liberty Restoration Project as they held one of their semi-frequent protests of KCMO’s automated ticket issuing cameras.

Tracy is currently campaigning for the Sixth District at Large City Council seat, representing an area of south Kansas City where Tracy and her family reside.

Oh, and to interject my own opinionations here. It was KCMO city government over the years that used anti-pedestrian, car-oriented traffic planning methods that eventually led to traffic sewers like that at 39th and Southwest Trafficway where the protests often take place. And they wonder why red light running happens? It’s because the city allowed over-zealous traffic engineers to screw up the roads, skewed in favor of moving cars as quickly as possible with no thought given to anyone not wearing a car around them. So what does the city government choose to do? Fix the lousy traffic engineering and urban planning decisions that have plagued Kansas City for ages? No. Setup some stupid cameras courtesy of the out of state leeches at American Traffic Solutions in Scottsdale AZ to send legally questionable fines to drivers who not only constitutionally have the right to face their accuser (in this case a robotic camera) but to have the accuser prove that it was the person cited on the ticket who was driving the car.

So, a legacy of idiotic urban planning combined with a populace of two kinds of people: 1) Those normally mad as hell and wouldn’t take it anymore but would have to ask off from their sweatshop low-wage job to go fight the ticket, OR 2) The large number of eyes-wide-shut, non-alert sheeple who consist of the American populace, making brainless statements like “If you don’t run red lights then you won’t have any problem.” Yes, thank you so much for pointing out that complete red herring, and for showing your utter lack of understanding of basic American legal structure.

Given that I’m born and raised in KCMO and thus have some kind of affinity for it, which is probably the reason I spend so much time trying to post flattering pictures of Kansas City on my site, I’ll tell you this: In many ways we’re kind of thought of as the “All American City,” which makes total sense seeing as our solutions to fix our own past screw-ups is to not correct the original mistake but to pile more bureaucratic nonsense on top of the issue in publicity-driven stunts to appear proactive at improving public safety while in reality indulging in a Machiavellian revenue generation scheme to shore up the city’s deficit. That’s Kansas City’s way and that’s the American way.

I normally don’t go off into current-event rants on my photo site, so I’ll clarify my own positions just for general principles. Politically and socially I lean left of center, with some bents of libertarianism on occasion. Those occasions are where Mrs. Ward and I are in full agreement. Also, the fact that I’ve been interested in urban planning issues for a number of years and can pretty much point out with ease all of the screw ups that have taken place here that we eventually end up trying to fix by calling in some out-of-town corporate saviour to the rescue in the false name of the public good.

And to make it clear – this photographer has never been ticketed by a KCMO traffic camera, and has not even had so much as a moving violation in over five years. I simply get annoyed at people so willing to be ignorant of their own rights, and so blase about intrusions against said rights. Not rights to disobey traffic laws (the afore-mentioned red herring), but the rights to face one’s accuser and the right for the burden of proof of guilt to be on the accuser (city government) not the burden of proof of innocence to be on the accused.

In 2004 I was stopped and searched without warrant in London for happening to appear “suspicious” near some ambassador’s private residence while I was hobbling about looking for the London zoo. So please, to anyone saying something like “Just don’t run the light and you won’t get a ticket,” please feel welcome to move to one of the most heavily surveilled countries on Earth. I would think the UK would be a lovely place if not for their government’s paranoia – a paranoia that is increasingly and unwittingly seen in the US to justify half-baked ideas like automated traffic surveillance cameras and full body scanners at airports – both of which one is hard pressed to find actual proof of effectiveness.