‘He Just Said No!’: New Jersey Police Under Fire After Sergeant Confiscates Bikes from Teens and Handcuffs Black Teen Despite Another Officer Giving Them a Pass

New Jersey police officers are under fire after a video clip that began circulating on April 17 showed them seizing bicycles from a group of teenagers — predominately Black and Latino — and handcuffing a young Black male after stopping them for riding exuberantly around the city without license tags.

Several portions of the initial 17-minute video have since been shared on YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. The incident subsequently led to “Perth Amboy” trending on Twitter by April 20. 

Perth Amboy, New Jersey police officers handcuff Black teen for riding bike with a registration. Photo: screen grab / Youtube

The teens — who have not yet been identified — were seen riding their bikes through the streets of Perth Amboy. A few times, they were popping wheelies with their bikes with some riding against traffic through the north New Jersey municipality. The group ultimately grew to more than a dozen but eventually split after police cars began tailing them. 

Shortly afterward, one group is ordered to stop, and one officer gets out and talks to the group of four to six cyclists who were concerned their bikes would be confiscated. He told them they were creating a disturbance in traffic for other drives who couldn’t get around the large group but assured them there were no plans to take their bikes. “You guys are supposed to have licenses and all that kind of stuff,” the officer was heard telling the group. “Guys, we don’t make the rules. You guys know when there’s 30 or 40 of you together, it creates a problem for people driving.”

The officer reassured the teens he would not be taking their bikes and later issued them a verbal warning about getting licenses. “Guys, please be a little safer for your safety,” the officer told them before walking away as the bike riders clapped.

However, the video then cuts to another officer, apparently a sergeant, who reached for the handlebars of two of the teens’ bikes before ordering another officer to confiscate the bikes. When the first officer returns, the sergeant claimed that she had “advised 30 kids early today that they weren’t allowed to be in the middle of the street.” The puzzled teenagers quickly disputed the officers allegations, saying they were just told they were free to go. “He just said no, watchu mean?,” questioned the teen in the red hoodie.

The teen continued in a back in forth with the sergeant while the officer who gave them a pass attempted to explain before relenting to his sergeant.

After a brief exchange of words, she ceased conversations and told the surrounding officers to obtain the bikes. The Black teen in a red hoodie pleaded to no avail that they’re not from the area and were concerned how they would get home. He ultimately gives in and lets go of his bike and was handcuffed shortly afterward and put in a patrol car. It’s unknown whether charges were filed against the young man. However, he was released, and the bikes that were taken were eventually returned.

The clip generated criticism from people online who were shocked to hear that bikes even needed to be registered. Meanwhile, others believed authorities were excessive in their approach. One Twitter user wrote, “Imagine being some miserable police force, like that of Perth Amboy in NJ, who’s latest claim to fame is: trending because you idiotically swarm to confiscate bikes and detain (just the black) boys for lack of a 50 cent registration that proves ownership… #HowItStarts.”

In an Instagram post by Christian Orozco, the teen who reportedly took the video, he explained that most of the riders were riding on the right side of the street. He said officers gave them a warning and told them that they wanted them to ride with the traffic for their safety. He added, “the one colored male was upset … and was speaking out of anger,” and he was arrested for “being disrespectful.”

Perth Amboy Council President William A. Petrick applauded the officers for how they handled the incident, stating he saw no arrest but rather a teen being taken into “protective custody.”

The Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and Perth Amboy Police Department have since launched an investigation into the incident.

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