2007-06-05 – Bike Group Rails Cops – Metro NY

Metro New York
By Michael Rundle
JUN 5, 2007

EAST VILLAGE. Police officers seized approximately 15 bicycles chained to lampposts on E. 6th Street in a raid last week, and arrested two bystanders, according to Times Up!, a bicycle advocacy group.

Officers from Manhattan’s 9th Precinct used circular saws to cut the locks off roughly 50 bikes between First and Second avenues at around 7:30 p.m., members of the organization charged at a press conference yesterday.

At first NYPD allowed people to claim unlocked bikes — without proof of ownership — but later took the remaining bikes away in an unmarked cargo van, which the group said was an illegal seizure of property.

“When I came home there were about 15 cops on the street,” said witness Caroline Dorn. “They came through with two or three saws which sent sparks flying into the air.”

Bill DiPaola, executive director of the nonprofit, believed the raid was part of a larger campaign against cyclists, saying this type of action chokes the growth of alternative and non-polluting transportation in the city.

Times Up! showed several photographs and six minutes of edited film footage shot by local residents that depicted cops loading bikes into a van, and the arrests — reportedly of Robert Carnivale and Carol Vale — by a plain-clothes officer.

Carnivale said he did nothing to provoke his arrest except film the raid and ask a lieutenant for his name.

“I guess I started asking too many questions. It was probably the worst experience of my life,” he said.

Police said the bike seizures were made in response to public outcry.

“The precinct captain responded to complaints by the 10th Street Block Association President Marilyn Appleburg, Jack Brown of Committee to Restore Safe Sidewalks (6th St) and others in the community about problems of chained bikes between 1st and 2nd Avenues in particular,” NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said in an e-mail. “Some bikes were returned to owners at the scene; others [claimed bikes] at the precinct after demonstrating they knew the combination to locks or otherwise identified themselves as owners to the precinct’s satisfaction.”