Biking While Black…(Part 1 of 2)
MC came up with this title when I posted about this on Facebook.
First off, I will not mention the name of the police department in my post, because last time I did this kind of post I kind of got into a legal whirlwind. So, I’ll just say this: The police department I’m talking about is not the Louisville Metro PD. They are a PD surrounded by Metro PD.
Bicyclists and police generally have an unspoken rule. They don’t bother us if we blow through stop signs, and we don’t run red lights when there is traffic. For the most part, the police will ignore you while on a bicycle.
On Saturday, I usually ride my bike around the city using safe biking routes and trails. On one of these routes, I went to one of the malls in the East End. I spent about an hour inside the mall and got back onto my bicycle and headed out.
At a traffic light, I noticed a police car turning left into a shopping center across from the mall. He then slowly turned around and sat a few feet away from the intersection light across from where I was waiting. As I waited for the slow light to turn green, another police car showed up. The other police car slowly turned as well toward the shopping center.
Wow, that’s strange, I thought. I got the feeling something was wrong with the situation, and I wondered if they were watching me.
The light turned green, and I took a left turn.
As I rode forward, a police car swooped in front of me with its blue and red flashing lights. It stopped in front of me. Behind me, the other police car stopped with their lights on as well. They had boxed me in.
At this point, I thought, Well, shit. This isn’t going to go well. First time f’ing getting pulled over on a damn bicycle…
Because of past experiences with the police, I knew this had something to do with my race. The “town/small city” I was in is mostly comprised of upper middle class and rich white people. Black men don’t usually get pulled over for no reason unless we fit some kind of profile.
The police officer in the front car got out.
“Hi, do you have some ID?” he said in a non-demanding tone.
I reached into my backpack and got my wallet out. The police female officer from the rear car got out and stood behind my bike. This wasn’t turning out to be my favorite Saturday.
“What’s this about?” I asked, handing over my ID. At this point, I was livid but maintained a calm demeanor in front of them. I didn’t want to end up in jail. There have been too many times black men don’t know how to handle these types of incidents. You don’t give them a reason to lock you up.
“We’re checking on reports of a black male on a bicycle breaking into cars and stealing GPS devices and technology items. We got a report that he wore black shoes, a grey and black helmet and had a backpack. You fit that description,” he answered. “We’ll check your ID through the radio.”
I can’t f’ing believe this shit is happening while I’m on my bike. I sat down on the sidewalk…
End of Part 1