Guilty While Pedaling

Bikes, cameras, action!

And the evidence of the crime for those nabbed during bike protests staged during the Republican National Convention is—what else?—the bikes. More than 300 bicycles seized from protesters who were arrested at anti-Bush bike-ins have been held at a Queens warehouse pending resolution of charges against the owners.

"It is pretty clear they are using the bikes as leverage," said protest organizer Matthew Roth of the bike advocacy group Time's Up. "They have hinted as much: 'If you want your bike, just plead guilty.' " Not so, said officials. A spokesperson for Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, whose office is prosecuting some 1,800 people arrested—most on disorderly conduct charges—said the office will begin photographing the seized bicycles this Wednesday so that they can be released to their owners.

That was good news to Roth, but he said authorities are duplicating their efforts. "When we were arrested, they took pictures of us with our bikes. They have them already."

Cops seize protester and instrument of crime.
photo: Shiho Fukada
Cops seize protester and instrument of crime.

Bikes aren't the only possessions authorities decided to hold on to. Legal Aid lawyer Steve Wasserman said that dozens of people have complained that their cameras had not been returned after their release. Wasserman said that he had been told that police are examining film to see if it contains evidence of crimes.

"I don't know who told him that," said Barbara Thompson of Morgenthau's office. "We have not heard of anyone going through cameras, digital or otherwise."

 
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