On Sunday April 19th, Tom DeStories shot and killed a Redflex photo radar worker as he sat in his van monitoring speed cameras along the Loop 101 in Phoenix. One of the murderer’s former coworkers said that DeStories didn’t like the idea of photo radar and even bragged about cheating the cameras, according to a report on KPHO.
What could have led someone to do something like this? If you listen to talk-radio here in Phoenix, you might have an idea. There is one station and one person on that station that comes to mind when I thought of who has been leading the charge against the speed cams and fanning the flames of vigilantism: Darrell Ankarlo on KTAR. Not only has Ankarlo ranted about it countless times on his daily radio show, but he has blogged about it and written articles about it Phoenix Magazine.
Take Ankarlo’s Jan 2009 article titled “If I Were King”. Among other things he would do if he were king, he states:
All speed cameras in the state will be chopped down and abolished forthright, and any governor using this wicked taxing device shall be impeached and forevermore banished to Yuma.
Let’s first get past the insult to people living in Yuma. He chooses some interesting words here. Ankarlo says the cameras should be “chopped” down. Like the Travis Townsend did in Dec 2008 with the axe? Doesn’t sound like he’s discouraging that type of behavior here. And he says that they (the cameras) are “wicked”. Wicked as in evil? I suppose we should be afraid , then.
In his Feb 2009 article in Phoenix Magazine, titled “Go, Speed Racers!”, Ankarlo says:
What fascinates me is that we’ve seen only a few instances of vandalism related to these multi-eyed monsters
More fear here, of course. But also another pass on condemning the acts of vandalism against the speed cameras. At the very end of the article, after giving multiple ideas on how to circumvent the speed cameras, Ankarlo adds:
E-mail me with other proven ideas, and I’ll use them for an upcoming column or radio show. Until then, get mad, and do something (legally) to get your freedom back.
If it already wasn’t obvious from his radio rants, now he tells us directly that his goal is to get us mad over the speed cameras…and for us to do something about it once we get mad…legally, of course. I have to wonder if it was the Phoenix Magazine editor who added the “(legally)” disclaimer. Bottom line is that after demonizing the speed camera idea by calling them wicked and by implying that our freedom has been taken from us (don’t forget the lack of condemnation of the previous vandalism)…we’re supposed to get angry and go out to do something (legally). Wink, wink…got it.
I’ll spare the audio clips this time, since there are so many. To sum up his radio rants on the speed cams, he has on three occasions compared to their use here in Phoenix to Hitler’s Nazi Germany. He even encouraged people to speed past the cameras and to send in a copy of their ticket to his show. Further, he said it dehumanizes us and that they would lead to socialism. Socialism? Not sure where that came from. It’s really bad when, even if you buy into Ankarlo’s bizarro logic, some things still seem random.
Perhaps the most blatant encouragement Ankarlo gave to people thinking of acts of speed cam vigilantism was in one of his blog posts titled “We Can Kill Them!”. Interesting title, right? Here’s the loony part:
Speed cams actually got their American start in Texas decades ago. They were removed after proud Texans grabbed their guns and went target shooting. Such an uprising won’t be necessary here if we kill them via our political opportunities first.
So was Destories just being a “proud Arizonan” that Sunday night when he shot at the Redflex van killing Doug Georgianni? Did he think he was justly fighting the rise of a Nazi-like police state here in Phoenix as Ankarlo described?
What responsibilities does someone like Ankarlo have regarding encouraging people to grab their guns to do something about their “freedoms” that have been “stolen” from them by the speed cameras? Does KTAR and Phoenix Magazine bare any responsibility for giving him the platform to make such remarks? How about the sponsors that advertise during Ankarlo’s show?
UPDATE: KTAR via Twitter just 2 days after the speed cam murder:
So Kid, who was in for Ankarlo, seems to be excusing the shooting. We can’t know for sure because the audio is not available for that day. But this is what someone at KTAR (Russ Hill?) seems to be implying with this Twitter message.
UPDATE: A day before my post, Lt. Warriner of DPS said this:
Because of (critics’) vocalness, you could almost say they’ve led to this, too – because of their protests, the encouragement of people to strike out,” he said.