Breaking Brown

April 27, 2016

Riding Bikes While Black: 81% of Bike Violations in Tampa Issued to Black Riders

Riding Bikes While Black: 81% of Bike Violations in Tampa Issued to Black Riders

First there was driving while black, then walking while black, and now bike riding while black.

A Department of Justice report found that the Tampa Police Department issued more citations to black bicyclists than to riders of other races.

According to the Miami Herald, the department issued 544 bike citations in 2014. Of the citations issued, 443 —  81 percent — were given to blacks. Blacks, however, only make up a quarter of the city’s population.

The Tampa Bay Times obtained a copy of the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services report, which concluded that the policing tactic, intended to lower crime rates, never worked.

“Though these stops were intended to reduce problems in areas with high crime rates, which were mostly black, the disproportionate citing of African-American bicyclists was unfair and, even if not intended as harassment, often perceived as such,” COPS office director Ronald Davis wrote in the report  released on Tuesday.

Blacks were not stopped because they ride bicycles more than whites, but they were more likely to be ticketed than their white counterparts.

The report makes several recommendations to the Tampa Bay Police Department, including reducing the overall number of bike related stops and greater community monitoring of racial disparities.

“This is a very powerful moment,” Davis said. “A department can learn from the data how better to deploy their resources … Tampa can be the model.”

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