Biking While Black, in Anaheim!

So after the last Council meeting (which was something of a snoozer) we went across Anaheim Blvd to do a little work at Starbucks, and just happened to be glancing out the front window when a black guy rode by on a bike, followed closely by a police car that pulled up right behind him, and the two officers practically jogged after him as though he were really dangerous! Of course, Donna grabbed her phone and went out to film, a film you’ll see below.

The officers REALLY wanted to “pat him down for weapons,” which they made pains to distinguish from an actual “search.” But the gentleman knew his rights and wouldn’t let them. Over and over the lead officer (whose name we didn’t get) tried to convince him that “THERE IS CASELAW” – and he could write it down on a notepad too! – allowing him to do that. He was referring to Terry v. Ohio, and he was wrong – that ruling allows police to pat you down for weapons ONLY IF they have a clear and “articulable” reason to suspect you’re armed or connected to some crime, and they didn’t have that, or even pretend to.

The lead officer also appeared to believe that using the WORD “de-escalation” is the same as de-escalation. He tried saying to the gentleman, “YOU KNOW why we pulled you over” … but that didn’t work. Nobody knew why. Likewise the line, “I just want to make sure we all go home tonight” – as though they were all one wrong move away from a tragic and fiery denouement – also fell flat.

After a while, at the biker’s request, the Supervisor, Sergeant Sandoval, showed up – eventually there were four cruisers and (it sounded like) a helicopter as well, just for this one fellow who was apparently biking “down the middle of the street” a while earlier (lights and all!)

After twenty-five long minutes they just gave him a ticket and let him go. This is Biking While Black, in Anaheim, California.

About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.