June 6, 2007
A city environmental group and local bicyclists are calling on the NYPD to stop harassing people riding bicycles after they say police went on a raid last week.
The non-profit organization Time’s Up says officers were videotaped Thursday night sawing off bike locks and arresting bystanders on East 6th Street between First and Second Avenues.
Witnesses say without warning, officers cut the locks off about 50 bikes and then let people walk off with them without showing proof of ownership. They say police also took away some of the bikes in an unmarked van.
One witness, who was videotaping the scene, was arrested after he asked one of the officers for his name and badge number. Another woman was also arrested after questioning the officers.
“I guess I started asking too many questions and I got placed under arrest for disorderly conduct and spent 20 hours down in central booking,â€ said arrested bicycle owner Robert Carnivale.
â€œWhat happened that night is simply unacceptable and unlawful behavior by the New York City police department. It demonstrates, unfortunately, a continued, ongoing pattern of hostility and harassment of New York City cyclists,â€ said civil rights attorney Norman Siegel.
Time’s Up and the cyclists are now requesting a meeting with the commanding officer of the Ninth Precinct. They also want to know how the NYPD plans to return the bikes, and is demanding charges be dropped against those arrested.
The NYPD says some bikes were returned to their owners at the scene, while others were returned at the precinct if the rider could prove that they were the owner.
They also say there were two arrests; one for disorderly conduct, the other for a misdemeanor drug charge.