Cops suck. It’s a fact. They’re armed, trained to use lethal force, and can almost never be punished for crimes they commit. They protect the wealthy and their private property while enforcing a class structure designed to fuck the poor forever and ever. Cops are overwhelmingly white men, attracting to their ranks an infinite supply of KKK members, military rejects, and high school bullies.
While on the job, cops rape, they scalp, they strangle, they lie to protect each other, and they kill with impunity. On average, cops and private security shoot a black man every 28 hours in America. While virtually all law enforcement agencies follow the same fascist playbook, the Portland Police Bureau’s especially barbaric track record has recently been scrutinized by a Federal investigation and international media coverage.
Despite witnessing cops physically assault and arrest people I know, as a general rule, I do not voluntarily speak to or even make eye contact with police. I mention this so you don’t think me biased when I say: to the cop who almost hit me while I rode my bike last Friday, FUCK YOU.
Insecure, Frustrated Bully With Something To Prove Considering Career In Law Enforcement http://t.co/mAg3bPQn5e
— The Onion (@TheOnion) August 9, 2013
Gone are the days when Critical Mass corked the streets of Portland with throngs of traffic-snarling ‘anarchists’ on bicycles. In it’s place perseveres countless other themed rides. The monthly Midnight Mystery Ride is one of the best.
The start location is almost always different, and isn’t published until only hours prior. The end location is always officially a mystery, but with only so many places to light an obligatory endpoint bonfire, often you can kinda guess. Regardless, it’s always satisfying adult bike fun.
Last Friday, November 14th, there were between 40 and 50 of us cruising merrily through the night up SE 28th Ave between Reed College and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. It was about 1 AM, a time when traffic on this corridor is nonexistent. Our jovial ride was suddenly interrupted by obscene squawking from the speakers of a PPB patrol car. You know the kind – that agro blast sound like the buzzer at the end of basket ball games?
Yeah, that’s the one.
Location where a cop was being a total dick.
Then the cop gets on the PA and yells, “Get over into the bike path!” Yes, the ‘bike path‘ – not the bike lane. This officer didn’t even know the name of our dedicated space. What he also didn’t know, or pretended not to know, is that there’s no legal obligation for cyclists to use the bike lane if it’s already occupied by things like leaves, debris or other riders. As it is across the nation, ALL travel lanes on surface streets are legal for bicyclists.
There’s also a local code stating cyclists are to ride as far to the right as is safe. If there isn’t room, riders are supposed to ‘take the lane‘, meaning you ride to center to prevent motor vehicles from unsafely passing you.
Well, unsafely pass me this cop did.
As the rest of the riders begrudgingly obeyed this prick cop, I refused. Even if I’d wanted to comply, as everyone else took to the bike lane, there wasn’t room left for me to merge in anyway. As such, I was totally within my rights to ride in the multi-modal lane.
Officer Not-Very-Fucking-Friendly didn’t care. He accelerated and passed to my left with just inches to spare. Had I turned or lost control as he approached, he’d have hit me for certain.
I shouted something to the effect of, “I’m exercising my fucking right of way in this lane!” as he raced past – no lights flashing, no emergency required. Just being an asshole cop endangering people on their bikes.
Shocking as it may sound, this isn’t the first time police have tried ruining my day while riding.
A couple years back on my way to work I passed a TriMet bus on Sandy boulevard – legally and safely – as it was slowing to a bus stop. A PPB cop immediately pulled me over to lecture me about what a dangerous thing I’d done. “The bus was stopping so I passed it,” I replied. “You didn’t know it was stopping,” the officer argued. “The number 12 stops at that covered bus stop on every run,” I explained.
Having exhausted this line of illogic, the cop then told me he could write me a ticket for not wearing a helmet. I informed him no such law exists in Portland. Now he was pissed, “Y’know, I ride a bike, too.” He was apparently implying we were in some way similar. “That’s great, but I need to get to work,” I replied as rush hour traffic continued flying by. The conversation over, we parted ways.
This June during Pedalpalooza, one of the finer evening rides that involves a bit of trespass and urban exploration got surrounded by no less than a dozen cop cars. About 100 of us had been bike-partying on the roof of a vacant building slated for demolition the following month. As we were in the process of leaving, the cops swarmed in demanding to see everyone’s identification.
When two friends of mine refused to be detained, they were immediately tackled and arrested. One of the two was female. The cops made sure to twist her arm hard enough until she screamed out in pain – thereby scaring the rest of us into complying. Luckily, all charges against them were later dismissed.
Now, even though the cops were legal in detaining us for trespassing, they couldn’t force us to show ID. They did, however, phrase their words in such a way that implied a threat.
When it was my turn to be personally harassed by the skin-headed cop, he says to me, “You gonna show me some ID, or…?” So even though he’s not ordering me, he’s left the statement open to imply if I don’t hand over identification, there’ll be trouble. I gave him my drivers license. The cop asked if the address was current. I told him it was. That may have been accurate. Spill the tea, Internet. Spill the tea.
I’m sure somebody reading this far is thinking, ‘But cops on bikes aren’t dicks!’
Yes they are. Those same cops will use their bikes as weapons to attack peaceful protesters in a heartbeat. Step off the curb and into the street and expect a dick cop to slam their bike into your face or chest – for nothing more than jaywalking. As a member of PDX Bike Swarm, I’ve seen cops go after us while riding legally as well, ripping people’s bikes out from under them and knocking them to the street.
I don’t know if cops just inherently hate cyclists, but I sure know plenty of cyclists who hate cops. Not just for their racism and murdering, per se, but also from the lack of enforcement of reckless drivers while targeting bike riders as though we’re just as deadly.
Last week I wrote a piece considering if taxi cab drivers were the worst threat to cyclists. Pondering recent and past events, I’m more confident cops are by far the greater antagonist to people on bikes.
Ride safe out there, and fuck the police.
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