Traffic camera firm invokes 1965 civil rights bill to stop votes in Baytown and Houston, Texas that would ban red light cameras.
citizen-led groups that want the public to decide the future of red
light cameras are racist, according to lawsuits filed by American
Traffic Solutions (ATS) in a pair of Texas cities. The Arizona-based
photo enforcement firm filed in a state court in Baytown on Thursday
and then an ATS-funded front group filed an identical case in a federal
court in Houston on Friday. Residents in both cities signed petitions
placing a ban on automated ticketing machines onto the November 2
ballot, but ATS cites the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965 as a
reason to block these votes.
“Because the camouflaged referendum has been improperly placed on
the ballot, a potential for racial discrimination exists,” Houston
lawyer Andy Taylor wrote on behalf of ATS. “More specifically, minority
voters may lose their ability to elect candidates of their choice in
local, statewide and federal offices.”
ATS claim may come as a surprise to the diverse groups behind
anti-camera petition efforts elsewhere in the country. In East
Cleveland, Ohio the group Black on Black Crime led the effort to gather signatures for a referendum. In Cincinnati, the anti-camera coalition
included the National Association for the Advancement of Colored
People (NAACP) and the Green Party. The American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU) has also battled cameras in Iowa and Rhode Island. Baytown initiative sponsor Byron Schirmbeck suggested the traffic camera industry was disguising its true aim with the racism charge.
The Chronicle has no evidence to support this claim first developed by ATS hired gun Jim McGrath. more
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