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Coalition stages camera demonstration

Friday, March 26, 2010 | 7:30 p.m. CDT; updated 1:43 a.m. CDT, Saturday, March 27, 2010
Standing at the corner of Ninth Street and Broadway on Friday, Dan Viets makes clear his opposition to Proposition One, which would allow the use of city surveillance.

*CORRECTION: Karen Taylor leads Keep Columbia Safe. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported her affiliation.

COLUMBIA — A demonstration in downtown Columbia on Friday might have made residents feel a bit closer to the plight of paparazzi-chased celebrities in hopes of raising opposition to Proposition 1.

The demonstration was sponsored by the Keep Columbia Free Coalition, a recently formed alliance created specifically to urge Columbia voters to reject an upcoming proposal to install surveillance cameras in downtown Columbia.

Dan Viets, director of the Mid-Missouri chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the event was designed to be a “mock surveillance” protest in which demonstrators with cameras will take pictures of people who go by.

“It’s meant to raise consciousness that it’s something people don’t want; to be put on camera all the time,” Viets said. “It’s a creepy thing for the government to put us under surveillance just because someone might possibly commit a crime.”

The demonstration was held at the corner of Ninth Street and Broadway from 4 to 6 p.m.

Mayoral candidate Paul Love, who spoke during the demonstration, said he opposed Proposition 1 because of its implications for individual privacy.

“Our law is based on precedent, so if we’ve agreed that it’s OK to watch us, then it’s OK to watch us,” he said. “Anything that you agree to do today is still OK tomorrow, and they’re going to have a lot more capability to track you tomorrow than they do today.”

Attempts to reach Karen Taylor, the creator of the Keep Columbia Safe* group that supports Proposition 1, were unsuccessful.

The Keep Columbia Free Coalition, which is a union of the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the ACLU, the Liberty on the Rocks organization and the Boone Liberty Coalition, is now authorized to accept campaign contributions and spend money to promote their opposition to Prop. 1, which will be voted on April 6.

The coalition doesn't oppose surveillance cameras in high-risk areas such as parking garages where they are used mainly to protect private property. Likewise, it does not object to private businesses installing their own surveillance cameras because what they record is not public information.

Flakne, the secretary of Keep Columbia Free, said Liberty on the Rocks is a grass-roots non-partisan organization that grew out of the Ron Paul Revolution movement. The group meets weekly at The Heidelberg restaurant to discuss current political issues.

The Boone Liberty Coalition is not affiliated with a political party, but members share a similar philosophy to the Libertarian Party, Flakne said.

Flakne, a member of Liberty on the Rocks, said he was approached by Viets to work together on a common goal of opposing the camera initiative and to educate voters on its implications.

“There’s a lot of younger folks in Columbia that do not understand the issues,” Flakne said.

MU student Erika Adair, in passing by the scene of the demonstration today, said she wasn’t concerned about the issue and would be hesitant to vote on it because she didn’t know much about it.

“The only time I’m worried about getting stuff stolen from me is when I set my purse down in a place, not on the street,” she said. “I’m not at all scared, but I’m from Kansas City so it’s a drastic change."

In addition to today’s demonstration, Viets said the coalition will sponsor a screening of the film “1984” at The Blue Note on April 2 to raise awareness about the camera initiative. The screening will feature speakers to describe the issue and ask for donations to the campaign.

Flakne said though the Keep Columbia Free campaign does not currently have much funding, he hopes to run radio ads if more money is raised to publicize the reasons why he feels Proposition 1 is a bad idea.

"There's a lot of half-truths and mistruths about crime rates downtown," Flakne said. "We're just struggling to get the truth out."


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Comments

Ray Shapiro March 26, 2010 | 8:32 p.m.

Way to go Mr. Viets and all sensible Columbians who will Vote down this unfairly restrictive use of general funds from the city coffers.
Bob McDavid is the only mayoral candidate who supports this knee-jerk reaction to Karen Taylor being "turned down" for special city-financed surveillance cameras restricted to a specific private business area.
Get a better proposition written or explore a properly administered teenage curfew program.
Better yet, use a CIT approach for "The District."
Ignore the biggest signs being put up in Columbia.
VOTE NO on Proposition I.
http://www.abraxis.com/wdarling/blueprin...

(Report Comment)
Erica Warren March 26, 2010 | 10:29 p.m.

"Attempts to reach Karen Taylor, the creator of the Keep Columbia Free Coalition that supports Proposition 1, were unsuccessful."

Karen Taylor is the creator of the Keep Columbia Safe Coalition, not the Keep Columbia Free Coalition. I am glad that Karen Taylor recognizes that Columbia is a safe place to live (hence, KEEP Columbia Safe). It is too bad that she would like to see our liberties diminished, though. Keep Columbia Free! Keep Columbia Free! Keep Columbia Free! Vote NO on Proposition 1 April 6th!

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin March 26, 2010 | 10:39 p.m.

NO Votes are winning 54% to 39% among 654 polled on the Columbia Heart Beat poll, which has been up for several months.

Given that long-term trend, which set up some time ago, I predict this measure will go down to defeat.

POLL: Will you vote Yes or No for downtown surveillance cameras?
http://www.columbiaheartbeat.com

(Report Comment)
Michael Sleadd March 27, 2010 | 8:01 a.m.

I'll vote NO! A thousand times NO! If a business wants to buy and install cameras that is fine with me, but I don't want my movements filmed by the city for anyone to see on request.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox March 27, 2010 | 10:06 a.m.

I'll vote yes. What do I have to fear from some cameras, I'm not so delusional as to believe I'm interesting enough that people will pour though days of video to catch glimpses of me going out to eat or out to get a drink. Considering my frequency of even minor infractions of the law is so low it seems that cameras would only serve to exonerate me of a crime or act as evidence in a crime perpetrated against me. Cameras are getting cheaper and data is getting easier to store, if you're that concerned you privacy is being eroded by a few cameras in a public area you really aren't paying very close attention to the real dangers of technology and information. Because if you were you'd understand if Big Brother really wants to follow you, street corner cameras are about the least effective method next to throwing darts at a map.

(Report Comment)
Christy Welliver March 27, 2010 | 11:18 a.m.

I will vote NO! As has already been said, "If a business wants to buy and install cameras that is fine with me, but I don't want my movements filmed by the city for anyone to see on request."

(Report Comment)
Paul Love March 27, 2010 | 12:14 p.m.

I spoke with Karen for a little while after the League of Women Voters forum. The Keep Columbia Safe Coalition intends to remain active after the election regardless of the outcome. Coincidentally so do I :) One of the things we discussed was working together to strengthen the neighborhood watch. We need to encourage Columbians to look after one another and to keep one another safe.

While Karen and I may disagree on the methods for doing so our goals are the same, namely making Columbia a very safe place to live. Perhaps the most shameful portion of this whole affair is that the camera also caught another person who just walked by while her son was being harmed. This person did not call out, did not summon assistance nor did they come forward after the event to identify the perpetrators of this despicable act. This is perhaps the greatest thing we can do to not only improve the safety of our community but to make it stronger as a whole. We need to learn to look out for on another to become involved.

I encourage you to do so on April 6th. In this posting I do not ask for you to vote for a particular cause or candidate I simply ask that you review the issues and candidates and get out and vote. Stop on the way to or from work. Take your children to the polls with you either on the way to daycare or school. Take them with you on the way home. Show them that you care what is happening and teach them to be involved.

Thank you for your time and patience

Paul Love
Columbia Mayoral Candidate 2010
Love4mayor.org
Love4mayor@gmail.com
Love4mayor on facebook and twitter

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro March 27, 2010 | 4:45 p.m.

I'll tell you what Paul.
You get the "Karen Taylor-District/Chamber-Bob McDavid" group to "fire" Vangel and "hire" Viets before April 6th, and I'll cast my vote for you.
Otherwise, I vote No on Proposition I and Yes for Sid Sullivan and know that it will be his vast experience, resume, wisdom and independence that will best help straighten out this mess.
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...
("Mike Vangel owns an advertising and marketing firm that bears his name. He’s also working with Keep Columbia Safe, the group that petitioned to put a measure authorizing security cameras downtown on the April ballot.")
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...
Also, whatever happened to this?
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...
And most of all:
http://www.columbiamissourian.com/storie...

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 28, 2010 | 8:12 a.m.

The observation has been made, elsewhere, that there seems to be a disconnect in this matter on the part of certain individuals. Why would someone who favors and lobbies for government programs having the effect of increasing government intrusion in our lives be terribly concerned about the installation of cameras in public places?

One would expect objectors to be of the "Tea Party/Limbaugh/Palin" variety.

Btw, among the so-called democracies what city has the highest density of surveillance cameras? London. Do citizens object to them?

(Report Comment)

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