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For the past decade, Tampa police have enforced a “stop and frisk” style policy that aggressively and disproportionately targets the city’s poor, black residents who ride bicycles, according to a Tampa Bay Times investigation published Friday.
Cyclists can be stopped and ticketed for having a missing tail light, baggy clothing, pedaling through a high-crime neighborhood or not having their hands on the handlebars, which is no longer illegal, according to the Times. Of the 10,000 bicycle tickets issued by Tampa police in the past dozen years, the newspaper found that black cyclists received 79 percent of those citations, despite making up less than a quarter of the city’s population.
In the last three years alone, the Times reported, police have issued 2,504 bike tickets, which is more than Jacksonville, Miami, St.
Police have stopped some riders, the paper reported, more than a dozen times and, at least one individual has been ticketed three times in a single day.
Critics might call it “biking while black,” but police, the paper reported, have another name for it: proactive policing.

King said he and his brother, a scrapper, found the bike frame in a Dumpster and assembled it from parts. Tampa police impounded it for 90 days, advertising it as “found” property, even though it had not been reported stolen.
In recent years, the Times notes, police departments have been punished when proactive policing becomes discriminatory. Despite being one of the department’s “highest ticketing years,” bike crashes and bike thefts both increased significantly in 2013, according to the Times. But some local officials, like Circuit Judge Rex Barbas, are openly questioning the policy, according to the Times.
The bike was the only way he could get around after getting out of prison last summer for dealing drugs.

Justice Department issued a report concluding that “nearly every aspect of Ferguson’s law enforcement system” impacted African Americans disproportionately. Barbas told the Times he spent three years hearing juvenile cases and could remember a single white kid being issued a bike citation. District Court judge for the Southern District of New York, ruled that New York City’s “stop and frisk” policy violated the 14th Amendment’s promise of equal protection.

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