After conducting an analysis of more than 10,000 bicycle tickets issued by the Tampa police over the past 12 years, the Tampa Bay Times has found that 79 percent of those ticketed are black. Blacks make up about a quarter of the city’s population, the Times reports.
Tampa police are targeting poor, black neighborhoods with obscure subsections of a Florida statute that outlaws things most people have tried on a bike, like riding with no light or carrying a friend on the handlebars.
Officers use these minor violations as an excuse to stop, question and search almost anyone on wheels. The department doesn’t just condone these stops, it encourages them, pushing officers who patrol high-crime neighborhoods to do as many as possible.
“This is not a coincidence. Many individuals receiving bike citations are involved in criminal activity,” the statement reads.
However, the paper found that only 20 percent of those adults ticketed in 2014 were arrested; moreover, those arrests were “almost always for a small amount of drugs or a misdemeanor like trespassing.”