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State NAACP Chief Says Red Light Cameras Unfairly Target Minorities, ‘Tax On The Poor’

February 23rd, 2013 · 25 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events

Scot X. Esdaile, president of the Connecticut NAACP is turning up the heat on state legislators as they weigh approval of red light cameras they claim will enhance transportation safety and generate revenues for municipalities. Statement from Esdaile:

Legislation has been introduced again this year to permit red light cameras in Connecticut cities, and the NAACP of Connecticut is prepared again to oppose it.

Two bills would permit red light cameras in municipalities with populations of 48,000 or more and another would set the limit at 30,000. In any case, these bills would impose automated ticketing unequally on the people living in urban areas. As we noted last year, that means disproportionately targeting minorities and the poor for a form of extra traffic enforcement that is inherently unfair, a type of geographical racial profiling.

Typically, 90 percent of red light camera tickets are issued for right-on-red violations, often involving harmless, technical infractions such as the failure to come to a 100 percent stop before turning. The ticket is issued automatically to the owner of the car, regardless of who was driving. Weeks or months may pass between the alleged offense and the mailing of the ticket, so that the driver is unlikely to recall the circumstances in order to mount an effective defense. And, of course, the car’s owner may be out of luck if contesting the ticket means losing a day’s pay, or even a job, to attend a hearing.

Not only does this kind of ticketing amount to a regressive tax on the poor, it enriches the private companies that run the cameras and pocket half of the proceeds or more. Their claims that the cameras improve safety are tainted by the profit incentive and refuted by independent studies that find otherwise.

Across the nation, concerns about the unfair treatment of minority drivers have helped spur opposition to red light cameras. In 2011, voters in minority neighborhoods of Houston provided the strongest support for a successful ballot initiative to remove red light cameras in that city. In 2008, the NAACP of Cincinnati forced a referendum that banned red light cameras. And the burden of red light cameras on minority drivers in Miami has spurred a statewide movement to repeal enabling legislation in Florida.

The NAACP remains convinced that red light cameras are unjust, unnecessary and wrong for Connecticut.

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25 Comments so far ↓

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Mr. Esdaile is on glue. If minority drivers don’t want to be ticketed for running red lights the solution is simple: DON’T FUCKING DO THAT, period.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    I would have thought education or lack of education in the inner cities would have been a more important topic for the state NAACP.
    Cameras at red lights? Give me a break. It’s simple. Light turns yellow prepare to stop, light turns red it means STOP. God, it’s not rocket science. It’s simple. Obey the law, NO PROBLEMS.

  • Mojo

    *** Don’t know about its affect on minorities but urban city drivers in general will feel the effects when they start getting traffic tickets in the mail for offenses they won’t remember! Take off too soon, ticket, stop a bit short pass the camera, ticket, don’t stop long enough before taking that free right turn, ticket! Trouble with traffic lights at intersection not working properly, ticket! Of course you can always take time off and contest the ticket in court since these cameras are rarely wrong or have mechanical problems, no? The system is not as cut and dry as those already drinking the kool-aid would have you believe. Also, how about for all the times P/D vehicles fail to obey public traffic signs and lights without reason; will they get a ticket in the mail thirty days later? *** BIG BROTHER’S WATCHING FOR THE SAKE OF REVENUE, NOT SAFETY. ***

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Why not take it an extra step and take a picture of all the drivers? I’m sure you’d catch more drivers talking on their cell phones than running red lights. This has very little to do with the danger of passing a red light or turning on red. In the event this bill is passed, they’ll be monitoring the lights 24 hours a day 7 days a week. But if one decides to contest a ticket, rest assured traffic court will only be open on weekdays.

  • Local Eyes

    Seen on a billboard on I-95:
    What Scot X. Esdaile calls “geographical racial profiling,”
    People in Connecticut call BREAKING THE LAW.

  • Local Eyes

    Traffic cams don’t discriminate against minorities. Traffic cams discriminate against those who run red lights.

  • Ron Mackey

    The camera is not the problem, the problem will be the humans who will review the videotapes and make the decision.

  • Local Eyes

    Based on Ron Mackey’s worldview, all parties would have an incentive to obey the traffic light–what’s wrong with that?

  • Local Eyes

    THIS just in:
    If you wait for the green light, the traffic cam will NOT take your picture.
    NO violation, NO photo.

  • Ron Mackey

    Local Eyes, try reading what I said again.

  • Bridgeporteur

    They’ve made traffic flow in Bridgeport dysfunctional in heavily minority neighborhoods. The lights and the “walking lights” at say, Railroad Avenue and Boatwick Avenues? When was the last time anybody walked there? 1950? Or the traffic light at Kossuth Street at the Off Track Betting site? When is there ever a car coming the other way? All this “traffic improvement” is another industry scam to be exacerbated with cameras and fines; in, yes, “minority neighborhoods.” The Finch Police State Creeping!

  • BOE SPY

    These cameras will do away with the ‘three-second rule.’ When you are in BPT and you get a green light, wait three seconds before going. That way you will not get t-boned by the uninsured driver running the red. Look at these sample ‘red light camera’ photos.
    www .nassaucountyny.gov/agencies/TPVA/RLC-sample.html
    Who is driving any of these cars?

  • Ron Mackey

    Let me try this again because I’m a little slow, who will review the videotape, will it be a human, will it be a computer, who will make the decision and every single violation be given a fine?

  • Mojo

    *** The only time human review may come into play is if enough people contest a particular same type and place ticket in court claiming a mechanical malfunction. Otherwise it’s all set up to run by computer and cameras with the blessings of “Big Brother Government” in hopes of picking more pockets at a faster rate of speed all in the “real” name of revenue and not necessarily safety, no? It will be interesting to see if fear of violations resulting in tickets will actually cut down traffic accidents at those sites! First test runs should be done at the streets surrounding both City Halls, Bpt P/D’s, State trooper barracks and Bpt fire houses to see how it works out, no? *** DID I DO THAT! ***

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    This is a bunch of bovine fecal matter, just a truckload of manure. Scot X. Esdaile is going to paw through it, looking for a pony branded “Racial Discrimination.”

  • TheSqueakyWheel

    From an experience in the Bronx. I ran a red light and when the ticket came it had 3 photos. One of the rear plate, a broadside view of the car I was driving, and a driver’s side shot, intended to show the driver. Yes it is a revenue tool, as opposed to a safety tool. The bottom line is obey the law, and you will keep your money in your pocket.

  • Booty

    Just a question. How long do you expect such a device to survive before being vandalized, especially in some of our better neighborhoods?

    If you google “defeat red light camera” you can even find ways to make your license plate overexpose the camera picture, but be perfectly visible to the naked eye.

  • yahooy

    Why do we have to worry about ‘minorities’ getting caught running red lights? Can the camera tell the difference? I guess Mackey thinks the person reviewing the pictures will be a racist white guy with an agenda. Seriously?

  • Ron Mackey

    yahooy, once again why do you go there? I NEVER mentioned ‘minorities’ at any time.

  • yahooy

    Oh. You must have been trying to imply the ‘humans’ reviewing the tapes would be prejudiced against Martians.

  • Ron Mackey

    yahooy, if you kept reading you would see I was seeking information on HOW the system worked, nothing else.

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