Friday, April 15, 2011

NYPD Continues Crackdown On Cyclists, Stops Brooklyn Rider On Sidewalk, Arrests Bystander (Video)

[UPDATED BELOW] A quiet corner in Brooklyn became the scene of an unfortunate arrest by the NYPD after they stopped a cyclist for riding on the sidewalk, and ended up arresting a vocal bystander.

Video uploaded to YouTube yesterday shows a cyclist on the corner of Claver Place and Putnam Avenue in Brooklyn in the company of an NYPD van, after being stopped for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk, part of the NYPD's sustained crakdown on cyclists. Just this morning, The New York Post reports a woman on the Upper East Side was given a ticket for riding with a tote bag strapped onto her handlebars.

Passersby good naturedly gave the Brooklyn scofflaw hard time. "Riding on the sidewalk, huh?" one asked. "You a grown man," another told him, "you know that's against the law!"

An officer in the van took issue with this particular bystander, telling him to "mind your own business." "I wasn't even talking to you!" the boisterous witness responded. And with that, the officers hopped out of the van and approached, demanding, "give me some I.D.!" "Get your hands out of my face," the bystander responded. "I'm gonna issue you a summons right now," the officer continued. "A summons for what?" the bystander demanded to know. A call for backup is made, and the witness recording the scene remarks "the NYPD is crazy." It was at this time the officer and bystander realized where the situation was headed and decided to apologize to each other and defuse the situation. Just kidding! Actually, the situation went from ridiculous to outrageous.

The officer and his new friend argue back and forth, with the officer making demands, and the man questioning those demands.

"Stay right here." "For what?"

"Give me your ID?" "Why?"

"Stay right here, you're detained now." "Detained for what?"

By this time, two more cruisers arrive and an arrest is being made. "Yo, do me a favor" the cop asks his just arrived colleagues, "put him under." "I got it all on video" the man recording tells those on the street.

Nearly three minutes later, and after the arrest was made, you can, for the first time, hear the officer state his reason for doing so: "Interfering with police business."

Neighbors and family members have gathered around and everyone seems to be confused  and upset over what just happened. Amid the growing commotion, the cyclist tells the growing contingent of officers, "I did not do anything. I did not do anything." It's at this time the video ends and there was no more information available. It's unclear if the cyclist did actually receive a ticket, but if he did, he might look foward to an apology. The other guy probably won't be so fortunate.

UPDATE I: The person who recorded the scene, YouTube user JoshuaBamboo, adds more information about the incident in the video's description. The cyclist was a friend who had stopped by to visit.
"He rode up on the sidewalk from the street to our front door. In NYC this is illegal. You are supposed to stop in the street, get off the bike and walk it on the sidewalk. Although he was merely coming from the street up to our front door, those few second were illegal. NYPD rolls up and tickets him for this ($150 fine or appear in court!).

Meanwhile our neighbor walks by while this scene is unfolding. They exchange some banter. We all laughed. He keeps walking.

From there everything escalates... Seems completely unnecessary to me...

At the end of the day, he was charged with harassment, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest."
UPDATE II:  From JoshuaBamboo on Twitter, "just met with the family. He was finally released; charges weren't dropped."

For more on the NYPD crackdown on cycling in New York City, visit BikeBlogNYC's excellent reference page, Crackdown 2011, collecting reports and resources from across the five boroughs.

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