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D.J. Prator Fights City Hall and Wins: One-Man Crusade Ends Ticket Trap in Downtown

With a camera and a web site, D.J. Prator fought the law and won -- and saved downtown drivers hundreds of dollars each in the process.

Last night, SoCal Connected's Laurel Erickson reported how Prator got a "no right turn" sign at the intersection of 7th Street and Broadway in downtown taken down in a matters of weeks after catching the city red-handed for setting up what appeared to be a ticket trap.

The city usually spends years taking away such a road sign. The extraordinarily fast action was "like an admission of guilt," Prator tells L.A. Weekly, that the some city official was up to something very sketchy.

In an interview with the Weekly, Prator, who lives in downtown near 7th Street and Broadway, says the Los Angeles Police Department officers hung out at the intersection and were poised to pounce on drivers who made seemingly illegal right turns.

"Personally," says Prator, "I just think it was a set up. It was a ticket trap."

The sign stated no right turns between the times of 3 and 6 p.m. -- the height of rush hour in downtown. But Prator says the sign was obscured in a way that made it impossible for drivers to notice it.

"It was virtually impossible to see," says Prator, who would personally warn drivers to the annoyance of police.

Prator lives in a largely Latino neighborhood, and thought the LAPD and the city were singling out minorities for the tickets. Outraged, he set about documenting the police giving tickets with his camera last year. Then he posted the pictures and his fight to get the sign taken down on his web site: 7th-and-Broadway.com.

The tickets the cops were handing out were not cheap: $234 a pop! Prator estimates that the city could make hundreds of thousands from the sign every year, which could quickly add up to millions.

Prator says the traffic sign was a gold mine for the city.

The citizen then took his case to the L.A. City Council and the Department of Transportation. The City Council did nothing, says Prator, but an official with the Department of Transportation responded to Prator, looked into it, and told the citizen that he didn't know why the sign was there.

Usually the process to take down such a sign takes years of City Hall red tape, but within several weeks on October 31, 2012, the sign disappeared -- and so did the LAPD.

"That was my victory," says Prator. "I just felt the police and the city were targeting minorities, and I had to do something about it."

Watch the Socal Connected report.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.


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