Raymond Michael Rodden was bored this week, so he drove to downtown Phoenix and began walking around, snapping photos of the federal courthouse and the state capitol with his iPhone. The 33-year-old man ended up jailed, unemployed and homeless; his iPhone, iPad and Macintosh laptop confiscated as “evidence.”
All because they found it odd he was taking photos at 3 a.m. “They told me they’re going to keep my computer because they want to see my search history,” he said Saturday evening in a telephone interview with Photography is Not a Crime.
“They wanted to know if I belonged to any extremist groups like the national socialist movement or sovereign citizens. They wanted to know what kind of books I checked out of the library.”
However, the only charges pending against him, if you even want to call them charges, are citations that he walked into an alley – a bogus charge that applies only to motorized vehicles – and that he neglected to change the address on his driver license after moving to Phoenix from Tucson last August.
They couldn’t even keep him jailed on the initial charge of an outdated warrant out of California because the San Obispo County Sheriff’s Office did not want to bother extraditing him from Phoenix.
“The warrant was not even valid in Arizona,” adding that it was over a probation violation for unlawful use of a vehicle, stemming from a 2001 incident in which he took his roommate’s car without permission after a heated argument.
That old roommate is still one of his best friends, allowing him to stay in his Tucson home after he was kicked out of the Phoenix home that was part of his employment.
“I was living in my boss’s house taking care of his son,” he said. “Now he thinks I’m some crazy person.”
The fact that the Phoenix police bomb squad tore his boss’s car apart searching for explosives before impounding it most likely convinced him that Rodden was not the most suitable person to care for his six-year-old son as he worked as a long-distance truck driver.
“The most radical thing I do is read Photography is Not a Crime and Cop Block,” he said. So like most people who read those sites, he knows his rights when it comes to dealing with police. And that is exactly why he is going through this ordeal.
It started Thursday at 3 a.m. when he was sitting at home, unable to sleep. He decided to drive to downtown in his boss’s car, which he had permission to do. He parked the car in front of the Phoenix Police Department and began walking around downtown, which is a ghost town at that time.