Florida Man Arrested While Protesting Red Light Cameras

Categories: Activism

redlight5.jpg
pasa47 via Flickr creative commons
A Central Florida man named Mark Schmidter is being celebrated among libertarians after he was arrested September 14 while protesting red light cameras at an intersection in Apopka.

According to a police report Schmidter posted online, officer Robert Campbell saw him in the intersection. The officer claims Schmidter was walking in the roadway and approaching cars. The cop initially thought he was panhandling and told him to stay out of the road. When the officer passed by again later, he again saw Schmidter in the road and stopped. As the cop approached, he saw that Schmidter's shirt read "BAN CAMS."

The officer wasn't then aware of Schmidter's digging-in-heels past fighting authorities.

The officer wrote, "I asked the male for his identification card and he told me he did not have one on him. I then asked him for his name and date of birth, in which he responded what right did I have to ask him for it. I told him I was stopping him for a pedestrian violation and asked him again for his name and date of birth. He refused to give me his name, saying I did not have the right to, and for me to show him the pedestrian law that he violated. I tried to explain to him that I did not need to show him proof for the stop prior to identifying him. He continued arguing about the stop, so I asked him if he had a permit to protest the red light cameras, and he said no. I told him it was also against City Ordinance to protest without a permit. I told him if he refused to identify himself to me, I will place him under arrest for obstruction/resisting, however the male still refused to provide his name."

The cop tried to put Schmidter in cuffs, but he allegedly pulled his hands away, resulting in a charge of resisting arrest.

Then a friend of Schmidter's came out of a restaurant to stand up for Schmidter, and "other protesters across the street began heckling me for making a bad arrest," the officer wrote.

At the police station, Schmidter again refused to give his name and asked for legal counsel. The officer told him: "I was not asking him incriminating information, which did not constitute the need for counsel. I told him that by law, he is obligated to identify himself during a police investigation. He asked me to show him this law and I told him I am not required to show him the law."

He was charged with Florida Statue 316.2045 - Obstruction of public streets, highways, and roads.

Schimter later wrote on Facebook: "When I was arrested 9/14/13, I spent 11 hours in jail, my bond was $500. Charge was 'Resisting Arrest Without Violence' Florida Statute 843.20. But I wasn't being arrested for anything! And a mail in Traffic Citation "Obstructing and Hindering in a traffic highway FS 316.2045."

Schmidter had been passing out info promoting banthecams.org, which argues that "red light cameras increase death and injury" as people brake hard to avoid tickets. It claims that red light cameras in Florida generate $250 million in 70 jurisdictions and that authorities shortened the length of yellow lights at intersections by 1.5 seconds so more people would be caught and the cams become more profitable. When Georgia mandated an extra second for yellow lights, cameras there became unprofitable, the group alleges.

But this isn't Schmidter's first brush with authorities. He became known during the Casey Anthony trial, when, as the Orlando Weekly explained:

he was involved with "the Fully Informed Jury Association," a group that believes in the concept of "jury nullification," or the right of jurors to make their decisions based on whether they believe in a law or not, and not just whether the defendant actually violated the law. Chief Judge Belvin Perry was not amused by the notion and effectively banned protestors from interacting with jurors outside the court, except in "free speech zones." But Schmidter supported the idea so much that he found himself arrested and sentenced to 141 days in the summer of 2011 for handing out pamphlets to jurors explaining jury nullification.

Schmidter served the time and appealed (and racked up a contempt-of-court charge along the way), arguing that charges of jury tampering should not have applied, since he wasn't trying to influence a specific jury but rather was exercising his freedom of speech.

A spokesperson at Sudbury Law in Orlando said they once represented him but couldn't immediately comment.

Schmidter did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

Kim Walsh, a public information officer with the Apopka Police, said, "His perception of what happened and his viewpoint is probably very different than what's in the charging affidavit... There's two sides to every story. You cannot be walking around in traffic."

Schmidter has fans and solicits donations for his legal defense on a Facebook page called We Are Mark Schmidter.



My Voice Nation Help
19 comments
fantastika
fantastika

DC collected $300 million last year. Now they are "upgrading" - cameras to detect Right Turn w/o complete stop, proper speed, stopping before the white line and not an inch further, etc.

Chief Judge Belvin Perry giving 141 days in jail to a man handing out pamphlets is a tyrannical government out of control, intoxicated on its own power.  

And the media complains about Russia!



Mike Roddy
Mike Roddy

I got a ticket in the mail from a camera the other day in Ft Lauderdale and now I slam on my brakes at every yellow light! Although I have a 'Safe' driver rating, I almost caused a 6 car pile-up the last time the light turned yellow...

Alex Johnson
Alex Johnson

They should go. Nothing but a regressive tax on working people. i was at the hearing of the Broward County Commission, it it was clear the only motivation to install them was revenue.

dregstudios1
dregstudios1

Traffic cameras are just another form of Policing for Profit as Capitalism distorts our Justice System.  These companies are bottom-feeders and take a 40% cut of the tickets while creating MORE dangerous intersections by fixing the lengths of yellow lights to entrap drivers.   You can read about how private companies and crooked politicians have turned our Police forces on their ear in every attempt to squeeze money out of the general public at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/08/the-privatized-police-state.html

Doug McAuliffe
Doug McAuliffe

Red Light Camaras are more of a safety hazard and municipally-enforced electronic pick-pocketing than anything else. They need to GO!

smdrpepper
smdrpepper topcommenter

I wouldnt say libertarians love him..since it was them who got those cameras up in the first place.  But everyone else, yeah they hate those cameras in all the states they are in.

Lynne Dear
Lynne Dear

Didn't I read that the camera at 163rd street and Biscayne brought in $1M every 8 months? why would they do away with it, when they can't collect taxes from all the foreclosed properties???

Bob Newman
Bob Newman

Cameras disguised as "public safety" are really just a revenue source for cash scrapped cities. Of course, they will statistically prove that they have reduced traffic incidents, but let's face the reality....it's all about revenue!

GimmyTruth
GimmyTruth

The issue is:  How can I be charged with "Resisting Arrest Without Violence"  when was not being arrested for anything in the first place? And we must be allowed to peacefully protest in the streets!

bigtowron
bigtowron

@smdrpepper 

How did the Libertarians get the cameras put up? Why would Libertarians want them up? I think you meant Liberals!

FRED
FRED

@smdrpepper  

if you obey the traffic laws, why would you have an issue with the cameras?

I can't count how many times I see people running red lights.   

What is a better alternative?



FRED
FRED

@GimmyTruth  

 You can NOT protest in the STREET.  

You can protest on the side walk.  he was in the traffic  like a pan handler.   and was arrested after refusing to move to the sidewalk.

 

givens.dan
givens.dan

@FRED @smdrpepper 

How about a fair traffic light camera? With an appropriate length yellow light (as in Georgia) as opposed to one specifically designed to generate profit for the city at the expense of safety for the public.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

Loading...