The police department in Perth Amboy, New Jersey is under fire after officers confiscated a group of teenagers’ bikes and arrested one of them over an alleged licensing offense. Video of the incident began circulating on Twitter Tuesday morning (April 20).
“This is Perth Amboy, NJ. Are the police really arresting kids over bike registrations? Does it really require this many officers to address whatever situation this is?” Amol Sinha, the executive director of the ACLU New Jersey, tweeted. “Police CANNOT continue to be our response to EVERYTHING.”
Several clips from the full 17-minute video, which was posted on YouTube on Saturday (April 17), show the teens riding BMX-style bicycles and popping wheelies in the road. In one clip, police stop a group of about six bikers and accuse them of causing disruption for incoming traffic. The officers say the teens need license tags for their bikes, which is required in the city according to the Perth Amboy municipal ordinance.
“You guys are supposed to have licenses and all that kind of stuff,” one officer tells the group. “Guys, we don’t make the rules. You guys know when there’s 30 or 40 of you together it creates a problem for people driving.”
The cop repeatedly said he would not confiscate the teens’ bikes but give them a verbal warning instead. However, the video then cuts to a Sergeant from the department who orders the other officers to confiscate the bikes. The cops also handcuffed and detained one Black teenager after he gave up his bike.
The teen who was arrested can be heard saying that the group of bikers is not from Perth Amboy, suggesting that they may not have been aware of the city’s licensing rule. On Reddit, one user pointed out, “These kids were not from Perth-Amboy and had unknowingly crossed lines of jurisdiction. Towns and county lines in North Jersey are literally backed up against each other and you won’t know when you’ve crossed into a different town or county unless you’re familiar.”
According to the YouTube video, police later returned the four bikes to the teens and released the arrested teenager from custody. It’s unclear if the teen was charged with any offenses.
In another video, the arresting officer can be heard telling the group that they need to ride their bikes on the sidewalk. However, NJ points out, riding bikes on sidewalks is not allowed in the area that the teens were in. The same cop also told the group that the police were not required to return their bikes to them, which was also untrue. According to the municipal ordinance, any confiscated bike must be returned upon “payment of any fine imposed or upon any final adjudication.”
On social media, others pointed out the multiple cop cars and police officers who responded to the situation.
“So, if you live in Perth Amboy, NJ, you need a *license* to ride a bike… and have to renew it annually? The lengths cops and cities go to in order to come up with reasons to harass black people (and make money while doing it) is wild,” one Twitter user wrote.
Watch the video below.