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About the NYPD cracking down on bikes without bells Saturday in Tompkins Square Park


[Screengrab from YouTube]

In case you were wondering about the large NYPD presence in Tompkins Square Park on Saturday afternoon… an estimated 50 cops turned up in the Park ahead of the sixth annual “420 Bake and Race” biking event.

According to published reports, organizer Shardy Nieves was arrested before the event started.

Per Streetsblog:

Nieves said as he walking into the park, he was greeted by the police officers — and one officer showed him a folder full of social media posts promoting the event, whose name is a cheeky pun for marijuana use, though Nieves claimed it actually refers to baked goods and pizza that the riders enjoy after the race.

Nonetheless, he was arrested on what cops said was an outstanding open container warrant.

The timing of his arrest the day of his racing event was suspicious, according to Nieves, who said he was pulled over this past summer for running a red light and was told his record was clean.

Following his arrest, police reportedly took Nieves to his home borough in the Bronx, where a judge dismissed the charges.

Meanwhile, the NYPD wasn’t done in Tompkins Square Park.

Back to Streetsblog:

Police also wrote up cyclists, most of whom were kids of color, for not having bells on their bikes.

Cops confiscated their bikes and brought them to the local [9th] Precinct. Several kids had to wait hours to get them back, according to social media reports and one of the victims.

The NYPD left Tompkins Square Park for Union Square.

You can read the account of the day via this post at Gothamist. (There’s also this 30-minute video taken during the NYPD’s time in Tompkins.)

Council Speaker Corey Johnson shared his thoughts on the NYPD’s actions on Saturday in this tweet…

Safe street advocates wonder why the city won’t give the same attention to reckless drivers. Citing NYPD statistics, Gothamist reported that traffic fatalities in New York City this year have increased by 41 percent compared to the same time period of 2018.

Said City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the council’s Transportation Committee: “There are other priorities that the men and women of the NYPD should have, especially fighting crimes. Targeting cyclists should not be their priority. …We don’t have a history of cyclists being involved in crashes in a number that is alarming. So I hope the NYPD stops this type of practice and focuses their resources to fight crimes.”

In a statement to Gothamist, NYPD spokesperson Detective Denise Moroney said:

The detail was in response to a large gathering of bicyclists called “420 Bake and Race” advertising smoking marijuana and traveling on New York City roadways to various locations. There was a total of four summons written for no bell on a bicycle (1236-B of the VTL) in the area of the park. There were a total of four bicycles were taken into custody for the violation and once the violation was corrected (bell affixed to the bicycle) all bicycles were returned in a 24-hour period. One person was taken into custody for an outstanding warrant. Members of the public and the NYPD have a shared responsibility to ensure safety for all navigating the streets of the city.

The “420 Bake and Race” ended up happening after all, just a little later than originally planned and without as many participants.

• NYPD Intimidates and Cracks Down on Cyclists For No Good Reason (Streetsblog)

• NYPD Seizes Bikes Without Bells, Arrests Cyclist Leading Group Ride (Gothamist)

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