Where Critical Mass Goes, Police Harrasment Follows
It was a beautiful day today in the North Park Blocks for this months Critical Mass. The sun was out, the city attorney was about (who was in the mass), the police were there in force, and the people of Portland didn't disappoint.
I arrived just shortly after 5:30 p.m. entering the park to enjoy some shade. After a little while of waiting a few friends arrived and we began to converse to pass the time. Shortly after some yummy food from the always awesome folks at Food Not Bombs bells rang signaling to everyone it was almost time to start to pedaling.
As the mass began (at about 6:00 p.m. with police following suit) everyone was in high spirits making noise, smiling, laughing, having a great time. Going through downtown Portland like always, critical mass zigzagged all about for about twenty minutes before heading over the Hawthorn Bridge.
By this time like always we waved goodbye as the bicycle police went back to work doing better things like stopping crime. Everyone crossed the bridge and started to head up Hawthorn.
Still with the police "escorting us" handing out tickets left and right to people for whatever reasons the mass went through a neighborhood as neighbors looked out from their houses, sidewalk, and yards. On our way back out yielding for a tri-met bus everyone decided to head back up Hawthorn from 10th.
With the support of the Hawthorn area behind us like always, we continued on. A little ways from where I was I noticed a person who had been stopped by the police in front of a Safeway, so I decided to break away from the mass at that point and witness what was going on. Apparently the person who had been stopped didn't have id and was (from what I overhead) about to be arrested for not having any. I guessed the police changed their minds and rather then arrest this person, gave them a ticket.
I decided to go and head on down Hawthorn.
While on my way a few police cars were off in the distance with their lights on. I noticed a small group of six people off to the side on a sidewalk so I asked what just happened. It seems that a friend had been stopped for something I'm not sure of, but was later let go. With that I joined these people still, talking to them now starting to head in the general direction I was going anyway.
One... two, three, four, five, six, seven we all turned a corner, no traffic in front of us in sight. All of a sudden a big huge air horn sounded. Everyone just though it was some ass hole behind us trying to get by. We couldn't make out the type of car it was because the sun was in our faces, not to mention we had to pay attention to the road in front of us.
As we all in a group turned the corner the horn sounded again and a man on a speaker said, "you in the black sweatshirt and backpack stop," so we all did as the police officer seemed to be paying special attention to me.
he got out of his unmarked dark blue car and turn on his lights parking somewhat on the side of the street and pointed at me... "You, come here," so I got off my bicycle and walked over to the officer.
"Am I being detained officer Johnson?" I said name-tag now visible.
"Why am I being detained?"
"Because you failed to stop at a stop sign," said the officer.
"Well why am I the only one being stopped when there are all these people who were riding with me and are not being questioned?"
Then the officer went into a whole explanation of why he was stopping me, asking if I was a "sheep" for riding with these people going through a stop sign. I told him no I'm not but asked again why I was the only one who was being detained if we all ran a stop sign. The officer then asked for my id. I don't have a valid Oregon id, just some school id so I handed it over not really feeling a vibe to say no and get arrested.
Officer Johnson then asked where I lived and not having a home I answered, "a friends." With that the officer went back to his car and tried running my name. I guess he couldn't do it from the car he was in so he called for another car, but before he did officer Johnson started to talk on his cell phone to someone on the other line after dialing. Officer Johnson then called in on his CB for another car which showed up five to ten minutes later.
Officer Johnson then got out of his car, got into a marked police car and then started to run my name again. Another officer stood guard over me as I watched on the corner, just standing there... waiting.
Again with my id in hand officer Johnson went back to his car with now a book of tickets that he had been filling out. While in his car I watched the officer ad he pulled out a digital camera. I turned around not wanting my picture taken still standing there.
Officer Johnson then said my name hoping I would look up, I didn't so instead took his camera and tried taking a picture of my face looking down at the ground. Again and again he tried taking a picture trying to be sneaky about it, but was obvious.
When I asked officer Johnson what he was going to do with my picture he said, "it's for my file."
Still not allowing for a decent shot of myself the officer took note of my video camera asking me why it was okay for me to film them out on the streets but he couldn't take a picture of me. I pretty much didn't say anything after that and just continued to not allow my picture to be taken.
The people I was with were like, "what the fuck? Why are they taking pictures of this guy?"
I like to think it was my dashing good looks but I know better. Still officer Johnson went on...
"Why are you trying to hide your face? Are you hiding something that you don't want us to know?"
I then said, "I just don't want my picture taken."
"Well why not? Your not lying to us are you?"
"No, I'm telling the truth."
With that the officer gave me the ticket he had been holding onto and went into the whole process of showing up for court. I asked if I was free to go, "oh yeah, you can go," said officer Johnson and then started to head back to his car.
Can someone say selective enforcement? Well I can, and that's what happened out there on the streets of Portland today.
If anyone wants to show up in support my court day is on 09/24/03 Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in circuit court room 106, address: 1021 SW Fourth Ave.
See you in court.
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