Oakland Police accused of racism, again.
The Oakland Police arrest of Najari Smith of the popular Rich City Rides, is rapidly disolving into yet another set of claims that the Oakland Police Department is racist as the story spreads around the Internet and around mobile devices.
But before we continue, what is “Rich City Rides”? According to its website, “Rich City Rides is a bike shop with a mission. Our dedicated staff and volunteers come together to help create a healthier city. Our programs focus on creating opportunities to improve health and economics by promoting cycling as a social, sustainable and green mode of transportation.
Here’s the story of the Oakland Police arrest of Najari Smith, assembled from various social media and media accounts available to this point in time:
This from Jennifer Rougeaux to East Bay Bike Party Facebook Page:
“We need all your support in helping Naj K. Smith get justice! On Friday Aug. 3 naj took a group of young people on a first Friday ride. As usual Naj had his speaker and typical rig he always rides with. He was jammin his usual non offensive tunes when an OPD OFFICER grabbed his handle bars and stopped his bike. Naj politely got off his bike and proceeded to understand what the cops issue was. Being an example to the youth he was leading he remained calm and respectful even the youth were outraged. He had to deescalate the youth and talk with this cop who was upset about Najari’s music. He first stated he was giving a citation for the loud music so naj turned it off altogether next thing you know naj was in handcufffs bike rig and speaker have all been confiscated and he was booked and sent to Rita where he spent his weekend. He was able to make bail but can you believe this?? Where is the crime?? How sway how?? I’m asking all the fellow bike riders to please make this post go viral so we can get some awareness to what’s going on. Clearly the OPD was threatened by the power naj was exuding from his pores and couldn’t take it. We want all our fellow bikers riders to please show up to downtown Oakland 6th n Washington traffic division 9am Aug 31st. court building with bikes and music in solidarity to support or community leader who did nothing wrong. We want his bike rig and speaker all back in mint condition along with the bail money returned compensation for missing work traumatizing youth and file harassment charges. Let do this bikers ?ﾟﾏﾾ♀️?ﾟﾏﾽ?ﾟﾏﾽ #bikingwhileblack the picture shows what has been taken by OPD.
— Robert Prinz (@prinzrob) August 7, 2018
This is the Oakland Police Department’s description of the incident:
On Friday, August 3, 2018, following the First Friday event, Oakland Police officers observed Mr. Smith impeding traffic at the intersection of W. Grand and Telegraph by taking over the intersection on his bike and continuously riding in circles. OPD officers had been trying to clear that intersection for vehicular traffic movement and Mr. Smith’s actions interfered with that effort. In addition, Mr. Smith had a sound system that was heard over 50’ which is also an infraction of the California Vehicle Code section 27007. OPD officers made contact with Mr. Smith to issue a ticket for the infractions. Mr. Smith refused to provide identification or any information that would assist the officers in identifying him to issue a ticket for the violation. The officers also advised Mr. Smith that if he refused to provide identification in order to cite and release him, they would be required to arrest him, as is required by California Vehicle Code section 40302. Smith continued to refuse to provide identification several times and was arrested pursuant to Penal Code section 148. After he was taken into custody, Mr. Smith repeatedly provided false information to the officers trying to identify him.
Oakland Police Accused Of Targeting Bike Party Rides
According to Dave Campbell, the Advocacy Director of Bikes East Bay, in an interview with Roger Rudick of StreetsBlog, which broke this story, “Oakland police do not have the appreciation of the importance of riding bikes in a celebratory ride and why that’s important and why it should be accommodated.” He also told StreetsBlog’s Rudick that Oakland Police had a habit of stopping blacks and people of color in Oakland who were cyclists.
And Critical Mass, the longest running large group bike organization in the San Francisco Bay Area, reported a very similar incident involving the Oakland Police in Oakland in July, 2007. In Critical Mass Wikia, the organization wrote…
“Police Department officers grabbed and detained a peaceful Critical Mass rider on the Oakland, California ride, which stages at Frank Ogawa Plaza on the first Friday of each month. The rider was cited for violating a noise ordinance for having a bicycle sound system. Many Oakland riders were critical of the Oakland, California Police Department for exercising selective enforcement of the noise ordinance, in a city whose streets are frequently travelled by motorcyclists on Harley Davidson motorcycles with loud pipes and sound-systems of their own, and with numerous cars with loud sound-systems and exhaust whistles. In addition, Oakland Police Department motorcycles themselves were previously criticized by Oakland’s District 3 City Councilmember Nancy Nadel for having loud, aftermarket “thunderpipes” installed on them. Text from Critical Mass (English Wikipedia article)#Oakland, California.”
Najari Smith Makes August 31st Court Date A Protest Event
Najari Smith is making his August 31st court arraignment date a protest event. On Facebook, he’s asking supporters to show up to Department 112 for “Biking While Black: Justice for Naj”.
From the view of this blogger, the Oakland Police could have saved everyone a lot of time (and taxpayers a lot of money) by just giving Najari Smith a warning, and not arresting him. Perhaps Mr. Smith has some identification issue, but what OPD should have done is simply give him a set of instructions on how to clear up the problem, and then let him go. But, because the police officers were obviously bent on making Mr. Smith dance to their commands, they arrested him. That, in and of itself, should be considered illegal police activity in Oakland. If the infraction in question is of such low-level of importance that an arrest is not necessary, then the arrest should not be done. That should be the law in Oakland.