Vancouver’s finest example of our civilization’s insanity struck yet again last Monday morning.
Not surprisingly, Private Constable Clark (badge 2432) was “working” in an automobile, misusing another expensive and dangerous piece of technology provided to him by our tax dollars.
Here’s the scene: me, riding a bike (my bad) north on Main Street, a minute away from reaching my client’s office on time at 11:30am. Suddenly, north of Pender, I hear a loud click, click, click sound behind me but after looking in my rear-view mirror, I can’t see anything that would make such a weird sound. I then hear a voice over a loud speaker say, “you have enough room there, Chief?”
I won’t bother debating the racist undertone of that comment. I will say that I was riding as far right as practicable, as written in the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA), meaning that I was just far enough away from the line of parked cars so that I would not get “doored” if one opened suddenly (recent court cases in other jurisdictions confirm this serious threat to a cyclist’s health/life). This put me into the right most lane of traffic, about where the right-hand side tires of cars and trucks travel.
I stopped at the red light at Pender. Although I was on my pedals ready to ride when the light turned yellow for the traffic on Pender, I waited until the light turned green on Main before crossing the white line demarking the pedestrian right-of-way painted across Main Street.
I then heard the loudspeaker voice say “move over into the bike lane.” I stopped, looked around behind me, and asked what the problem was. I tall, young, white male got out of the passenger side of the car and told me to get off of the road. I asked again what the problem was and he walked onto the sidewalk and told me to get my bike on the sidewalk. I refused and asked again what the problem was.
This man then walked right up into my face and told me I was obstructing a police officer. I replied that I was doing no such thing and, if he was indeed a police officer, that I would like to see some identification. He then told me that he was a Vancouver Police officer and showed me his badge (PC Clark ).
PC Clark (2432) again told me to move off of the road, which I did immediately. He then lied to me and said that I had entered into an intersection on a red light at Pender. I told him I did not. He then asked for my ID. I told him that I was not carrying any and had no need to do so. I also told him clearly that I was on my way to work and that he could plainly see that I was carrying materials to do my work on my bike (I was carrying a large box of network cable on my rear rack) and that I would be late if I did not leave immediately.
He then asked for and wrote down my name, birthdate, and address. He also asked for my mother’s maiden name, which I am not legally required to give (hell, I wasn’t under arrest, so none of this was legally required of me!) but I gave it anyway. His partner in crime (no wait, they’re the good guys, right?!) then ran my information through their computer database in their unmarked car. When she couldn’t find anything to hold me on, PC Clark (2432) then tried to find something else. While he was hard at it in the idling car, filling up the neighbourhood with lethal airborne chemicals, I told the woman cop that I find it despicable that people that are being paid a generous, if not hefty, salary with my tax dollars would tell bold-faced lies (about going into the Pender intersection on a red light). She said that she would back her partner up completely. Big surprise.
PC Clark (2432) then came over to me and showed me the two MVA fines that he was about to issue to me (not operating a vehicle properly: $109 + not riding a bicycle as far right as practicable: $109 = $218). Then he explained that he not only has the power to write me tickets but that he also has the power of discretion to not write these tickets and he would make that decision after asking me a couple of questions. Gee, how generous and kind abusers can be, no? Any further abuse directed at me now becomes “my fault,” not his! Psychopaths are wonderfully consistent this way.
1st question: why am I so hostile toward police officers. I didn’t answer that he got what he gave, only because I didn’t think of it at the time. I told him I didn’t know he was a police officer until he showed me his badge. He lied again and said that he told me when he got out of his car.
2nd question: why was I riding in the middle of the road when there was a bike lane? The “bike lane” was full of parked cars. He then clarified himself by dictating that I ride on the white dotted line, which means that one tonne killing machines can pass me at 60 or more km/h within millimetres on one side, while parked car doors can maim me on the other. Nice. And thoughtful, too.
After “agreeing” to everything he said, PC Clark (2432) correctly pointed out that I could call the non-emergency line of the Vancouver Police Department anytime and ask for Internal, the department that notes complaints against their co-workers. What he didn’t tell me, but know from personal experience, is that the hour or more wait-time on the phone results in your information falling into a black-hole, never to be looked at again. Funny how cops don’t find fault with fellow cops, isn’t it?
I then waited for the cops to get into their idling car and start driving. I then followed them to avoid having their gaze fall on me again. The very next block, he was back on his loudspeaker harassing pedestrians crossing Cordova with the walk signal. His car was turning right onto Cordova on the RED light and the people walking were instructed to get a move on.
I have heard continually from virtually every “other” community that the training cops receive is far from adequate in terms of dealing with their community. Add to the list of racism, homophobia, ableism, ageism, and sexism a lack of understanding of what it is like to ride a bike or even walk in the city.
For an unending list of police abuse and corruption, please visit Pivot.org or do an Internet search with the terms VPD and abuse or corruption.
What can be done? I suggest letting Vancouver’s Mayor and Council know; previous Council’s have claimed that they are powerless but maybe this one will be different (there’s that incredibly debilitating power of hope again). Going public, as I also am, will at least help future victims of police abuse know what to expect.
I have learned that asserting my right to be unharassed is useless with these people. They are trained to believe that everyone else is a threat and the best way to deal with difference is to pre-emptively strike (sound familiar, Mr. Bush?). This cop proved it with almost every word he uttered, lying about me going through a red light, lying about obstructing him, and giving me his incorrect understanding of riding as far to the right as practicable. Sure, I’ve received vindictive tickets and gone to court to prove that cops not only make bad mistakes, but that they absolutely should not be granted the powers of punishment in any way, shape, or form.
There’s much work to be done, for sure. Removing most laws and by-laws would be a good start, to take away the discretionary tools that cops mis-use hourly (no, make that minutely). Removing all lethal and most non-lethal weapons from cops is another necessary step. And, of course, training cops to understand that other human beings are, well, human beings, not potential criminals. Although far and few between, there have been cops that use their words in a humane way to understand a situation. Call me crazy, but this could be the standard way of interacting with others, instead of the current way of either creating a confrontation from nothing or escalating a minor issue into a major one.
Who’s going to do this work? Apparently not the people that need to do it (hello, cops!). And to date, not the politicians. So, as always, we do it as best as we can. Of course, if we look back at our past, we can see that every other culture that has ever existed on our planet (only a few hundred thousand different ones, to date) have never created a concept called work, nor put food or other essentials under lock and key, so there’s more than one way out of this mess. I suggest reading Ishmael, then My Ishmael, and then The Story of B as a start. After that, the world will seem a much different place…
Filed under: Cycling |