The viral video of Perth Amboy police officers confiscating bikes from a group of mostly Black and Hispanic teens and putting one of them in handcuffs this week renewed debate over the role police officers should play in enforcing low-level offenses like bicycle ordinances.
Some viewers saw a group of young people behaving recklessly. Others saw overreach after the officers informed them they were violating an obscure local ordinance requiring licenses for bicycles and seized four of their bikes.
Charles Brown, a professor of planning and public policy at Rutgers University, saw the same dynamic that plays out on the streets of cities around the country.
“This is a classic example of the laws, the policies, the policing that is in force that arrests the mobility of black, brown and low-income people,” he said in an interview.