A Phoenix, Arizona man has been jailed and charged with unrelated crimes after taking photographs of a federal courthouse, according to the Photography Is Not a Crime blog.
Raymond Michael Rodden, 33, was arrested in downtown Phoenix last Thursday at 3 a.m., and his mobile phone, tablet, and and laptop were seized. The car he was driving, which had been borrowed from an employer, was dismantled in a search for explosives.
Rodden was charged with using an alley as a thoroughfare and with failing to change the address on his driver's license. The Phoenix Police Department also attempted to keep Rodden jailed on a parole violation in California, but authorities in that state declined to extradite. Rodden says the warrant was not valid in Arizona.
Rodden explained he was unable to sleep Thursday evening, so he headed to downtown Phoenix to take pictures of the city's famous Arizona State Capitol and the Sandra Day O’Connor United States Courthouse.
He spoke briefly with Federal Protective Service officers at the courthouse. Soon afterward, he noticed he was being followed by two Phoenix police patrol cars, an unmarked car, and an officer on foot.
When he asked if he was being detained, Rodden was told he was not. Police tailed Rodden for an hour, until he entered an alleyway, when he was arrested.
Online critics of the arrest have pointed out that the law Rodden was charged with breaking, that “no person shall use an alley within the city as a thoroughfare except authorized emergency vehicles,” only applies to persons in vehicles, and not pedestrians.
Rodden was taken to the police department headquarters, where he was questioned by an FBI agent and a detective from the Phoenix Joint Terrorism Task Force. He said he was asked what organizations he belongs to and what books he reads.
“I told them I was not doing anything illegal by taking photos and they kept saying, ‘we’re not disputing that it’s illegal, we just find it odd,’” Rodden told the PINAC blog.
Rodden was released at 2 p.m. His confiscated electronics were not returned. Later that day, he was fired from his job.