PHOENIX – On Tuesday, Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio questioned the decision to deploy surveillance cameras to a peaceful protest organized by small business owners at Arizona’s Capitol in the hopes of “reopening the economy.”
Currently owners of businesses deemed “nonessential” by Governor Doug Ducey have been compelled to close their doors and send their employees to the unemployment lines in an effort to “flatten the COVID-19 curve.”
Beginning Sunday and continuing through Tuesday, those business owners, the unemployed, and many conservatives held protests across the state urging the governor to allow them to return to some semblance of productivity. The protestors, who showed up at the state Capitol in Phoenix were “spied on” by Phoenix Police using a surveillance camera mounted to the back of a pick-up truck. Images of the truck filled social media pages including DiCiccio’s.
In an interview on the James T. Harris show on NewsTalk 550 KFYI, DiCiccio laid out his concerns. “We don’t need the government watching our every move,” DiCiccio told Harris, “especially when they’re protesting our government. We have a right in the Constitution to protest our government and what this does is chills free-speech.”
“People don’t want to be videotaped,” said DiCiccio, “and this video tape is kept for an inordinate amount of time. This machine captures images and they are able to use them at a later date. It’s insane.”
Harris asked DiCiccio if City officials had approved the use of the camera. “Yes, they did absolutely 100 percent approved it. They always put it out there in the name of safety but think about it – they are capturing peoples visuals, their images. You just don’t need the government following you around; especially people who are protesting the government.”
“I believe this was a move to chill free-speech,” explained DiCiccio. “That’s exactly what it was. There was no valid reason. Whether you’re on the right or the left you shouldn’t have the government looking at everything you do.”
The belief that the camera was used as part of an effort to squelch dissent stems from the fact that DiCiccio, a conservative, is eager to reopen Arizona’s economy, while Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, a progressive, is adamant about keeping it closed down.
DiCiccio told Harris that he has a plan to “responsibly and safely open Phoenix.” He suggests “opening our economy May 1 with social distancing, and adequate monitoring in order to make necessary readjustments with a goal of fully reopening June 1,” without restrictions.
“Delaying extends suffering of the hardworking public, losing their homes, not able to feed their kids and will not have jobs to go back to,” said DiCiccio of reports that the governor might keep the state shut down until mid-June.