Friday, 22 June 2007

Cycling Sensibly

Riding responsibly
I was sucked in. My previous blog entry, Cycling Responsibly, is about a clash between cyclist Stephan Orsak and the law. He was stopped while riding out of the airport. That encounter eventually led to Stephan being tasered, arrested, and detained. He is shortly to face a jury trial on five misdemeanor changes and one gross misdemeanor. You can read his account at greencycles.

Initially, I was angry at his treatment, and put up the previous blog article to help bring attention to his treatment. I called it Standing up for responsible cycling. Then, after reviewing some of the details more carefully, I felt that he had left out some important details, and I modified my blog article accordingly, and retitled it Cycling Responsibly.

Now, I've come around almost full circle. I think the police actions were understandable and for the most part well justified, though I deplore unnecessary use of the taser. It looks as if Stephan was in the wrong, probably from even before he was stopped right up until the present when he is trumpeting a self-serving and misleading account all over the web. Some of the police actions may have been excessive, or not. I can't tell, and at this point I don't trust Stephan's account as a reliable guide. I was an idiot to blog too quickly; my bad. But having blogged, I'm going to finish the story as best I can.

Also, I have found it interesting the information one can obtain on-line; this blog is intended also to demonstrate that.

A couple of provisos to bear in mind.

  1. Comments at Stephan's blog are massively polarized, and a number are absurd. Some folks hate cyclists; and some folks hate policemen. If I get abusive comments about killing people you don't like, I will remove them. Irrelevancies about liberals or hippies are not welcome. Disagreement or clarification is welcome, however.
  2. Stephan gives an enormous amount of details at his blog; including the complaint against him and the police statements. This is sufficient to get the perspective of police and most of the useful background. Thank you.
  3. I am not a lawyer; not remotely. None of this is useful legal advice.

I was accosted, assaulted with battery, and tased at Minneapolis St Paul USA international airport by Airport Police, simply for choosing to leave the airport by bicycle.
I had broken no laws.
-- Stephan Orsak

Oh really?
-- Duae Quartunciae
With all that in mind… It is a fundamental starting premise of Stephan's account that he broke no laws, and that the initial stop was unjustified police harassment of an innocent cyclist using his bicycle legally and responsibly. Stephan compares it to road rage against a cyclist; something any regular bicycle commuter will empathize with. Is this really true?

It's going to help to understand where all this occurred. I used Google maps and Google Earth, together with the detailed information Stephan made available at this site. You can click on images to see them in a larger size.

By his own account and by police statements, Stephan was stopped while riding outbound on Glumack Drive, the main exit from Lindbergh terminal of the Minneapolis St Paul airport. Northwest Drive is a service road that runs along side. It is (at this point) one way, heading back in towards the terminal. At his site, there is video of a car driver's view of driving down Glumack Drive, and photos of two signs. He was stopped east of the post office and west of the highway.

Here is a satellite view of the airport area, from Google Earth. The location is 44.88 degrees North; 93.2 degrees West. (44.88, -93.2).
Satellite view of Minneapolis St Paul airport

Here is the same region, with Google Maps, showing the relevant roads.
Map of exit roads from Lindbergh terminal

Here I have marked in yellow the route shown on Stephan's video, and also the locations of the two signs. The "Authorized Vehicles Only" sign is north of the road; the "No Pedestrian Crossing" sign is south. The region where Stephan was stopped must have been somewhere along the stretch marked in magenta.
Location of signs and of stop

It seems strange: the road Stephan was on can only lead on to the freeway. Yet on his page, he insists that he had a legal route to Fort Snelling Park. It seems impossible. However, I saw on a different site a description of where Stephan was planning to ride.
But by bike, one takes Outbound Road toward the highway (15mph to 30mph max, same as residential MPLS), then begin to take the ‘return to terminal’ ramp, but immediately get off the road and cross over the median to Northwest Dr, the parallel service road, ‘walk’ a few hundred feet as it is one-way, then ride the rest as it becomes two way traffic. It is very lightly travelled. From there, Post Road, crossing over the highway and to the Fort Snelling trails. Very nice once you’re there.
-- Stephan Orsak, in this comment, at star tribune blogs

Here is an expanded view of his planned route, with the portion he would have to walk in green, until North West Drive becomes two way again. Very neat! It provides a convenient way to leave a very bicycle unfriendly airport terminal, as long as you are willing to brave the heavy traffic on Glumack Drive, and to walk a bit where there is no legal road access.
Stepan's proposed legal exit route
Map of route to Post Rd
On the face of it, this is a legal route; though not one any road planner would anticipate. The roads are such that I would normally expect cycling traffic to be prohibited, and signs have been added since this incident to make explicit that bicycles are not allowed. I am sure that Stephan's normal use of this route involves riding illegally along a short section of NorthWest Drive, especially given his comments on the relative safety of riding and walking the bike. Even if not riding illegally when stopped, I guess that was part of his intent and that the police were correct to perceive a potential problem. There seems to be a viable and inexpensive way for the airport to add a safe bicycle path feeding onto NorthWest Drive leading to Post Road.

The stop

All did not go to plan; somewhere along Glumack Drive Stephan was stopped by police. This stop was entirely proper. Even if we admit the legality of Stephan's plan, it is not one that fits with the roads. Glumack Drive was at that point a road going exclusively to places where a bicycle is illegal. That's a good reason for police to stop you.

The argument

The police were at the time on a call to lookout for a missing fifteen year old girl. By their account, they did not want to waste time dealing with the cyclist; they just wanted to resolve his position quickly and be on their way to a more important matter.

Stephan treated the matter as if it was police harassment from the start. By his own account, he failed to stop when initially asked, because there were no lights and no siren, and the actions of police were equivalent to shouted insults from another driver.
… It was indistinguishable from what regular cyclists occasionally experience as road rage. I was not stopped in a normal way with siren and/or flashing lights for any kind of violation, but was being distractedly yelled at while traveling down the road. …
Things were off to a bad start. Already, Stephan had shown himself slow to follow instructions. (I think a siren or lights is used to get your attention; not as a required signal for when police are giving you an instruction.) Already, the police were in a hurry and were abrupt and abrasive.

It went down hill. Stephan accused the police of being overbearing and abusing their authority. The police told him the bicycle was dangerous on Glumack Drive and that he should walk his bike along Northwest Drive instead, towards the point where he could proceed to Post Rd. He was roughly 400 meters from the point where NorthWest Drive would have allowed two way traffic again. Stephan continued to argue the legalities of this with them.

Disengaging

At this point, Stephan decided to leave. By his own account, he "took the initiative" to leave, and also to ride rather than walk his bike on NorthWest Drive, since in his own judgment this was a safer than walking.

Everyone was plainly angry, but here a line was crossed, and Stephan was the one who crossed it. He decided on his own behalf to terminate the discussion, and to ride the wrong way up a one way street rather than to walk as instructed.

Up until this point, we could debate endlessly about politeness and wisdom of either party. When Stephan rode away, however, it was plainly illegal, directly disregarding instructions, and a cyclist leaving police who were on foot. That's not going to end gently. The exact details of warnings and so on from police and from Stephan are inconsistent, but in the end a taser was used.

Stephan's accounts of this always have as the byline that he was tasered "simply for leaving the airport by bicycle".

That's flatly false. Leaving the airport by bicycle resulted in being stopped and challenged. What lead to the taser was illegal riding on a one way street, and worse, doing it against explicit instructions and as a way of leaving the argument with police "on your own initiative". That sounds a lot like fleeing; you don't leave an argument with police "on your own initiative".

Legalities

I'm not a lawyer; neither is Stephan. But he decided to argue the law with police (a very bad idea, regardless of any issues of fairness or actual legalities) and his web page tries to suggest that police actions were unconstitutional, and inconsistent with the regulations. He links to the list of airport bylaws and ordinances and cites "ordinance 58", of dubious relevance. It says no person shall be stopped "except as otherwise restricted by other ordinances". I followed his link, and I think he'd do better to look at the other ordinances, in particular ordinance 100 (on driving; effective June 2004). There are clauses there about signs, and bicycles, and driving in unsafe conditions, and appeals process, and so on; which may or may not apply. Ask a lawyer about that.

But it seems to me that one crucial bit is section 4.6 on traffic control. It says:
Section 4.6: Traffic Control. Drivers shall obey all posted regulatory markings, Traffic signals, and all instructions of a MAC representative, the Airport Traffic Control Tower, or an officer charged with Traffic control and enforcement.

That's not a police state clause; it's pretty much common sense. You argue or appeal the legalities and the manner of instructions later, with their superiors and with the benefit of proper legal advice. But at the time of an encounter, you recognize that police do actually have the authority to decide what is safe or not and to instruct you accordingly. Even if you personally disagree with what is safe, at the time you follow instructions, which in this case involved only a minor inconvenience of a 400 meter walk.

Conclusion

I'm a bit cheesed off about this. I used to be a daily bicycle commuter in heavy central city traffic. I know about harassment from those who cannot accept a bicycle as a legitimate road user, and I know about riding responsibly. I've participated in bicycle advocacy actions, and I've observed the cavalier disregard for safety and road laws by many of my fellow cyclists.

I feel Stephan let us down. His account was incomplete, inaccurate in some crucial ways, and unfair on the police involved. I think they could have handled it much better, but that the lion's share of the blame belongs to Stephan. I come to this conclusion very reluctantly. Having joined in rather too hastily in Stephan's ill considered broadcasting of events all over the net, I now have to backtrack and 'fess up to having changed my mind.

15 comments:

  1. Gaylord P. Frumpton22 June 2007 at 2:11 pm

    Woah... someone who is not only a reasonable blogger, but a reasonable cyclist as well?

    *feels ground*

    Nope... not cold yet... ;)

    Thanks for doing your research and making some sense of the whole thing. FWIW I don't really hope that he gets the chair *grin*

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  2. I don't know if you live in Minneapolis, but there are 3 lanes in/out of MSP on Gulmack Dr. There are no shoulders, and the traffic is a mixture of confused out of towners trying to return rental cars, Somali cab drivers, and all other sorts of in a hurry, or lost people trying to make their way.

    I've lived in Minneapolis for 30 yrs, and I dislike driving to the airport.

    IMHO, it is very bad judgement and physically risky to ride a bike to MSP airport. It would be easier to take a hotel shuttle or a cab (for $5) to a nearby hotel, and then bike home from there.

    It dismays me to read all the illogical rants about the USA being a police state, or about big oil, or George Bush.

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  3. Gee, I just wish that bloggers would talk TO EACH OTHER. You posted first without contacting Mr Orsak it appears, and then you revised everything and came to new conclusions, again without personally contacting the person who you are writing about. Bloggers are not really journalists and hardly ever REALLY investigate. They seem afraid to actually contact those they write about, as a good journalist would, and throw at them questions in order that we all might get a better sense of the truth.

    The most amazing thing was that you come up with maps, then come up with conclusions based on those maps, but didn't do what any GOOD journalist would do, and that's throw your evidence at Mr Orsak and then get his response.

    Thus, I've read your blogs, and I've read Orsak's blogs and I just throw up my hand and say, what's the point of any of this apart from jabber and more jabber?

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  4. Fair point. I did leave comments on Mr Orsak's blog indicating my concerns, and waited before blogging. I am sure he is reading his comments; I would hope so. I hate email generally; but perhaps I should have emailed.

    Most people posting in his support did not double check first either. Not that this excuses me entirely...

    Mr Orsak did actually solicit any and all comment. This is mine.

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  5. Followup to my previous comment... I was thinking of emailing Mr Orsak, the concerns of comment #2 above. On reflection I have decided against it.

    It's simply not a matter of confusion over the basic facts of what occurred. Mr Orsak has given considerable detail, and I don't have any major outstanding questions about it. The maps are only showing what Mr Orsak describes already.

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  6. I found the victim of the MN Aiport Police Cyclist attack you commented on by doing a google search on people reporting on the NWA MN POLICE AIRLINE ATTACK UPON MY MOTHER AND I…I came upon a link that said “I was attacked by MN Airport Police… sound familiar” the url came up in my search because he referenced my web site (http://justiceforjamesfamily.blogspot.com).
    If you think the attack you have just read about is severe, than might I also direct you to the NWA Airline attack, secret trial CIA NSA FBI jury pool, threats and collusion- My mother and I and now friends family and associates have been targetted in a case in which our very lives continue to remain in danger
    http://justiceforjamesfamily.blogspot.com, http://aaronjamesstory.com

    The Orwellian regime of the New World Order is here….

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  7. I went through a very similar process. First, I was swayed by the initial presentations and their wording, and I fell for them.

    After reading more and reflecting a bit, I too came to see it differently, and came to see Orsak as having most of the responsibility (even though he seems to take little or none).

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  8. You're from... wait... Australia?? What do you know about U.S. laws, the police, road rules, Minneapolis, etc? Have you ever lived here?

    It seems to me that it is Mr. Orsak's right to ride at a risk to his own safety if he so wishes. (I am adamantly opposed to seat belt laws, drug laws, and any law that protects people from themselves...) The feasibility and safety of the ride is irrelevant; what's important is the legality.

    It seems to me that this is yet another case of police paranoia that quickly turned into coercive violence - I've heard so many accounts of similar stories that it hurts. Bringing out a taser to subdue an angry biker (who was stopped without reason in the first place), is completely uncalled for - barbaric, even. Did this biker really pose such a threat that it warrented a taser? Was the fact that he was biking on a dangerous stretch of road really so problematic that they had to delay attending to an *actual* problem - a pressing concern?

    Mr. Orsak had every right to question and challenge an officer who had no grounds on which to harass him.

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  9. I have lived in America, and I was a regular bicycle commuter there. It was a long time ago, though. I am not giving legal advice in this blog.

    No-one anywhere is disputing Mr Orsak's right to question and challenge an officer. It is basic common sense, however, that you obey an officer and wait until later to make detailed challenges. Asking a question is okay; getting into an argument is unwise. The ACLU has a useful fact sheet advising the most sensible things to do, for your own protection, if stopped by police. See Know Your Rights: What to Do If You're stopped by the Police

    Your assertion that the police had no grounds to stop Mr Orsak seems to be incorrect on the face of it.

    The biggest problem for Mr Orsak, however, is not getting into an argument, but leaving the argument to ride away from police on foot going the wrong way up a one way street. That's straight from his own account.

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  10. Thank you for taking the time to give these claims a logical analysis. Boing Boing seems to have the habit of believing any claims that are anti-government/establishment. The sheep mentality is rampant on the web.

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  11. It seems that section 4.10 of ordinance 100 is also particularly relevant:

    4.10 Pedestrians and Bicycles. No Person shall use the Alleyway, Ramps, Taxiways, Runways or Designated Roadways as a Pedestrian walkway or Bicycle route except exclusive leasehold premises or as authorized by the Airport Director.


    I'm not sure if the roadway that Mr. Orsak was on would be considered a "Ramp" or "Designated Roadway" although it seems highly probable.

    Thanks by the way for your insightful commentary, especially the link to the ACLU page on what to do when stopped by police.

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  12. Ordinance 100 is on driving within the Air Operations Area, i.e., air-side, where ground vehicles are interacting with aircraft. Mr Orsak was not cycling on or near the runway!

    Marcus: A "Ramp" in this ordinance is not a freeway onramp. The word is defined, for the purposes of the ordinance, in section 1.39: it is airside-speak for the terminal gates, i.e., ramps are essentially where the aircraft are parked.

    Similarly, a "Designated Roadway" (1.14) in this ordinance is a road within the Air Operations Area, namely (1.3) the areas of the airport used by aircraft.

    If Mr Orsak had been cycling within the secured air-side part of the airport, it seems highly probable that the police would have mentioned it.

    To be sure, there are likely similar ordinances around "following the instructions of appropriate Traffic Control personnel" pertaining to the ordinary ground-side roads used by the public. (Quite possibly city or state ordinances rather than airport ones.) But I think even a non-lawyer can safely say that this Ordinance 100 has no bearing whatsoever on the case in hand.

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  13. Hello Duae Quartunciae,

    At last. First I have to thank you for putting a lot of thought and attention to your reply. After so many comments on my blog that are based on wild assumptions and misinformation, it is refreshing to see someone take a clear-headed approach to this and try to look at the facts. We may yet disagree, but I do admire your logical approach and process. I'm sorry for the length of this, but you do raise many points which I must answer to.

    You present the maps and route quite accurately and fairly. There are essential points however that you do not present correctly. To begin with, you state the following:
    "Stephan treated the matter as if it was police harassment from the start."
    "By his own account, he failed to stop when initially asked, because there were no lights and no siren, and the actions of police were equivalent to shouted insults from another driver."

    Not true. Please read carefully what I wrote, and if you paraphrase me, please be quite accurate as this kind of thing spreads like wildfire. I must make clear again that at NO time whatsoever was I asked to stop, either initially or after I closed the interview. It was not a usual stop with flashing lights and /or siren, as you understand. But at no place in my account have I stated that I failed to stop because of the lack of lights or sirens, although posters seem to have picked this idea up from other poster's misinformation.
    From my OVERVIEW June 17:
    "I was rudely accosted by an officer in a passing squad car, came to a stop, and was immediately threatened with mace and taser if I didn't get off the bike and up on the curb."
    From my CASE SUMMARY May 2:
    "The speed limit along the road is initially 15mph, eventually becoming 30mph (the same as residential Minneapolis). The Officer in the passenger seat began yelling at me ('what are you doing?' 'Get off the road' 'You're blocking traffic' etc) It was indistinguishable from what regular cyclists occasionally experience as road rage. I was not stopped in a normal way with siren and/or flashing lights for any kind of violation, but was being distractedly yelled at while traveling down the road. I slowed and pulled to the curb."
    Perhaps more clarification is needed. It was simply crazy to try to have a conversation while going down the road. By instinct I slowed and stopped, and the squad car slowed and stopped. That's all there is to it. I was *never* asked to stop.

    "He was proposing to stop the bike shortly after leaving the main road, and exit the ramp to walk along the grounds for a hundred yards or so, to where NorthWest Drive becomes a two way road again. At that point, he proposed to remount, and ride to Post Rd. Wow. There is no way the police could have anticipated a move like that; so they did indeed have good cause for the initial stop."

    That does not constitute legal probable cause. The police are fully aware of this route, as it has been used by cycling airport employees and others regularly for years. They only have to know a dozen public streets total within their jurisdiction, hardly a taxing of their intellects. Further, my meeting with a MAC grounds architect confirmed that this was a reasonable and legal route. The fact is, you can't be legitimately stopped by police because they think you *might* break a law later.

    Regarding whether this was a legitimate stop, the incident as a whole shows so many violations of the MPD Policy Manual that I can't possibly document them all here. I urge people to have a look for themselves at how officers are supposed to behave with respect to suspicions, bias, courtesy, respect, use of force, etc.:
    www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/mpdpolicy/5-100/5-100.asp
    to offer just one clause from the MPD Policy Manual:
    (begin quote) 5-104 IMPARTIAL POLICING (06/27/01)
    (A-D)
    The MPD is committed to unbiased policing and to reinforcing procedures that ensure that police service and law enforcement is provided in a fair and equitable manner to all.
    1. All investigative detentions, pedestrian and vehicle stops, arrests, searches and seizures of property by officers will be based on a standard of reasonable suspicion or probable cause in accordance with the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and statutory authority. Officers must be able to articulate specific facts, circumstances and conclusions that support reasonable suspicion or probable cause for a pedestrian or vehicle stop, investigative detention, arrest, non-consensual search or property seizure. (12/24/01) (end quote)
    I maintain that the harassment was discriminatory, the stop was completely illegitimate because I was cycling legally (more on this below) and not based on any reasonable probable cause. You cannot be stopped because an officer thinks you might commit a crime down the road or later in the day. See the Motion to Dismiss for more on this:
    http://web.mac.com/stephanorsak/iWeb/Site/Motion%20to%20Dismiss.html

    If you are not being cited or arrested, the police do not have the constitutional right to detain you.

    Duae, you mention MAC Ordinance 100 a number of times. Well, on the face of it it would seem that that would sink my ship for good. Taking the inside clause by itself it would seem pretty conclusive:
    "4.6 Traffic Control. Drivers shall obey all posted regulatory markings, Traffic signals, and all instructions of a MAC Representative, the Airport Traffic Control Tower, or an officer charged with Traffic control and enforcement."

    As if to make matters worse, there is also the following clause within Ordinance 100:
    4.10 Pedestrians and Bicycles. No Person shall use the Alleyway, Ramps, Taxiways, Runways or Designated Roadways as a Pedestrian walkway or Bicycle route except exclusive leasehold premises or as authorized by the Airport Director.

    But no part of this Ordinance actually applies to me or to any other non-employee leaving the airport on the public egress. It is an 'AOA' Ordinance. The title of the Ordinance is "AIR OPERATIONS AREA DRIVING ORDINANCE". This phrase is defined within the ordinance itself as follows:
    "SECTION 1. DEFINITIONS
    1.3 Air Operations Area (AOA). Any area of the Airport used or intended to be used for landing, taking off or surface maneuvering of Aircraft, and including the Tug Drive and all other areas shown on Exhibit III or as amended by the Airport Director, within the Airport Security Perimeter. It is intended for use by Persons for the operation of Aircraft, ground support Vehicles, and other authorized Vehicles related to Airport operations, and includes all exclusive leasehold areas."

    In straight talk, this Ordinance is there to deal safely with the areas of the airport where airplanes and ground vehicles must interact. These are the service and secured areas of the airport only. None of Ordinance 100 or the clauses contained within have to do with public access to or from the airport, nor are they germane in any way to my case. You have lifted clause 4.6 out of its essential context and presented it as proof that I behaved illegally. Unfortunately, many will take such a conclusion at a quick glance and run with it.

    Hindsight is a valuable thing, and perhaps I could have done a better job to defuse a volatile situation. But this was not my legal responsibility nor professional expertise. We do the best we can on the spot, and I believe the best can always be better. Beyond disbelieve, I will say that the primary concern in my mind while this whole thing was going on was that the same thing could happen to any innocent person, and the police belligerence was actually treated as routine. That bothered me deeply. My rights were being violated and the police were not willing to even discuss the matter. This was not the robbing of a bank, the mugging of a person, etc etc which requires instantaneous police decisions. All I asked for was the basic courtesy of fair treatment and a civil reply. When given the permission to ride out the wrong way on the service road (or accept the police version if you wish), I still had every legitimate right to ask for clarification. Whether this was embarrassing to the Officer or not is immaterial, they are supposed to be professionals and follow police policy. It was my Constitutional right to ask the question of what I should do the next time I came to the airport. This is not about whether this was a wise question, a smart question, or anything else. It is not about what one 'should' have done. You can easily make a strong case that it was foolish for me to try to reason with the police. None of that matters here. Everything is based on law, and what I said and did I had the clear legal right to do. The real conversation here must be about legal rights. That is what the case will hinge on.

    You write:
    "Stephan's accounts of this always have as the byline that he was tasered "simply for leaving the airport by bicycle".
    That's flatly false."

    Would it have happened if I were in a new car instead? Of course not. Here is a hypothetical: should APD have stopped a car because it might later NOT get on the highway and instead cross over the concrete median to the service road? Of course not, but you see the case of profiling and discrimination that emerges. By law, there must be equal treatment under the law. You are correct in that there is much more to the story, that is why I give the full account. It is not a question of whether the initial stop was 'fair and reasonable', as you put it. The court question is and must be whether it was *lawful*. You state that I made 'some extraordinarily foolhardy and illegal choices' in response to the police intervention. Perhaps Rosa Parks was foolhardy in not giving up her seat on the bus, but in her heart at that moment she knew what had to be done. I applaud that. But the second part of what you write, I do not understand. What, specifically, was the illegal choice? I think it is telling that after over 800 posts nobody has yet been able to state which law I was allegedly in initial or later violation of. The stop itself was illegitimate, and everything that followed is illegitimate by association. The police cannot do something illegal to you to trap you into breaking some further law that they will then prosecute.

    Putting aside for a moment all the details, it is really very simple. I was harassed for being different, simply for being a cyclist.

    We agree that the use of a taser for riding the wrong way on a vacant service road is not itself an appropriate use of force, even if you accept the police account. I had already been thrown to the ground. I urge all to look again at the police narratives for narrative consistency. Just how far could I have travelled away from the officers, and then a long arm 'reached out' and grabbed me? After alleged repeat warnings? If told to stop I would have stopped. It's very simple- the officers were not learned or experienced enough to know that they could not continue to legally detain me. But it is their responsibility to know the law. The result, throwing me to the ground, was simply an angry outburst and the further order to shoot was clearly for punitive and vindictive emphasis. I was no risk to them. The smashing of my glasses was just frosting on their cake.

    If it were illegal for me to 'flee', don't you think that would have been one of the charges? What possible reason would there be for the police/prosecution to leave that out? You see, that was my right, and the prosecution understands that.

    I was told by Officer Wingate that I could ride against traffic on the one-way. I was given permission to 'break the law' by a peace officer. The police account, of course, is different, and this point will have to be decided in court, but this is not the central point of the case. Such details should not cause people to lose sight of the central issue- from the beginning there was no legal reason for my being stopped and harassed. I was legally operating my bicycle in accord with all relevant laws. There was every legal, Constitutional reason for the police to have simply left me alone. My Constitutional right of free speech is my guarantee that I had legal right to object to the mistreatment while it was occurring, and not have to wait to some distant day in court. As I was not being arrested, nor being issued a citation, I had every legal right as a citizen to leave. Everything that followed was an egregious violation of my Constitutional Rights.

    I'll bring this to a close by saying thanks, Duae Q, you've written intelligently and done a lot of good work on this. I appreciate your support, even if it is conditional, but it is clear to me that you are a calm and reasoned individual and this world could sure use a lot more like you!

    Best regards and good wishes to all,

    Stephan Orsak

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  14. Ah, three additional items found on the editing room floor:
    Duae Quartunciae writes:
    "According to the linked blog post, he left the scene riding the wrong way up a one way street despite being told to walk. That's illegal."
    I was crossing the one-way road, and I had already in the first police instruction been given permission to ride on it, one-way against the flow of traffic. This is my statement of the facts which I will freely and readily state under oath in court, and it is different from the police narrative. But it is really a moot point as I was *immediately* thrown off the bike. We're talking about half a pedal stroke at most while I was attempting to cross the road. The CCTV video would show this. Also I was moving away from the officer, not toward, so there was no threat of attack. If you are not being arrested (I was not) and not being cited for a violation (I was not), the police have no right under the Constitution to detain you. The stop MUST be legitimate for there to be any further action on the part of the police. Giving away our Constitutional Rights is a serious matter. If you side with the police on this point, then you are in essence voicing your approval to any illegitimate stop for any reason whatsoever to any innocent person on the part of security forces, with any subsequent use of force blamed on the victim.

    "It was not merely a busy road; it was effectively a freeway entrance"

    The point is, where is it legally a freeway entrance? Bicycles are legally prohibited only where there is a sign that so states. Otherwise by default, and by MN statutes and the Uniform Vehicle Code bicycles as vehicles are allowed on all public roadways.
    Many others seem to think I was getting on the highway- that is simply not true. If you are in a car at the airport you have no choice. On a bicycle, one can cross the median to the service road.
    The sign on the freeway onramp that prohibits cycles, and that has always been there as far as I know, is *just* before the highway, and a considerable distance from where the incident occurred. If bicycles are already prohibited before the official traffic control device, what would be the point of a redundant sign at the highway entrance? And, thinking backwards on this, a sign that prohibits cycles generally is taken to mean that up until that point they are allowed.

    "The initial police instructions were for him to leave the freeway access road, and walk along the one way service road."

    This is from the police account, not mine. In my account, this is the second instruction given, not the first. The court will have to decide. Please do not assume that what they say is true (or me for that matter!). However if it occurred as you describe it, I agree that it would have been reasonable enough. If the entire manner of the officers had been as they portray themselves in the narratives, I also can see no reason for there ever to have been an incident at all.

    Cheers! Stephan

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  15. "Now, I've come around almost full circle."
    So you mostly agree with Stephan, as per your original post?

    teal4two

    ReplyDelete