2004-09-17 D.A. Releasing Bicycles

September 17, 2004



Manhattan D.A. Begins Releasing Bicycles
Seized During RNC

NEW YORK CITY -- As the Manhattan D.A.'s office begins releasing
bicycles to the large number of cyclists arrested during the
Republican National Convention, environmental advocacy group
TIME'S UP! has harsh criticism for NYPD and other city officials
who warehoused cyclists and then their property.

"There was no real reason to hold bicycles for three weeks, just
as there was no reason to arrest many of these people and then to hold
them in jail for two days. The delay in releasing bikes has been an
added indignity and punishment for people who did not deserve either,"
said Matthew Roth, a TIME'S UP! volunteer. "The city warehoused both
the people and their property for about as long as they could."

"The bikes were held on pretense that they were arrest evidence;
it's absurd to think that bicycles would have to be produced at any
court proceeding as physical evidence," Mr. Roth added. He noted
that in many cases the NYPD already had photos of riders with their
bikes.

Over 350 cyclists were arrested during the convention, including
many who were not involved in protests but were nonetheless caught up
in massive police sweeps and arrests in midtown Manhattan. Police
held some arrestees nearly three days before a judge ordered their
release.

TIME'S UP! also jabbed at the bureaucratic process required for
retrieval of bicycles, which involves a two-step process and takes
several hours during the work day. First, cyclists must obtain a
D.A.'s release, available only at the 100 Centre Street courthouse in
downtown Manhattan, and then trek to an out-of-the-way warehouse with
limited hours at 520 Kingsland Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

"Many people use their bicycles for transportation to and from
work, so they have had to spend a great deal of time and extra money
because the city was holding on to their bikes," said Leah Rorvig,
a second TIME'S UP! volunteer. "Imagine if the city seized 350 cars
from automobile commuters for 'blocking traffic' -- people would be
going nuts. If cyclists are committing a moving violation they could
be given a traffic citation rather than being arrested and thrown in
jail."

Mr. Roth noted that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg had
encouraged New Yorkers to ride bikes to alleviate traffic during
the convention, then later the mayor defended mass arrests of
cyclists.

"People are relieved to get their bikes back but are upset and
angered that it took so long," said Mr. Roth. "From the mayor on
down, the city has a lot to answer for here."

Many cyclists will be going to 100 Centre Street, and to Greenpoint
Brooklyn, to attempt to retrieve bicycles on Monday. Members of
TIME'S UP! will be available to speak.

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TIME'S UP!
(http://times-up.org) is a grassroots environmental group that
uses educational outreach and direct action to promote a more
sustainable, less toxic city. For more than 15 years, TIME'S UP! has
worked to educate people about the environmental impacts of everyday
decisions, from the food we buy to the means of transportation we
use.