Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on January 31st, 2012 at 1:56 pm
(Photos © J. Maus)
Dan Kaufman and his "Disco Trike" are back together again.
The trike, along with other equipment including an iPod, power inverters, batteries, and gear bags, were confiscated by the Portland Police Bureau during Occupy Portland protests on January 25th.
During those protests, police issued Kaufman a citation for "Unlawful Operation of Sound Producing Equipment." After having his video camera yanked out of his hand by a Portland Police officer, Kaufman was handcuffed and his trike and other equipment were held as evidence until his scheduled court appearance on February 13th.
It didn't take long for the issue to get some traction at City Hall, and yesterday, Mayor Sam Adams said the Police would relinquish the trike. I joined Kaufman today for the reunion...
Kaufman says this incident makes him think twice about rolling the Disco Trike at protests with music blaring. He seems at peace with the citation itself; but this clash with the police, he says, has led him to two realizations:
"How do we [Occupy Portland/PDX Bike Swarm] do it better? These run-ins with the police are marginalizing the movement. This incident also leads me to realize that we don't have the freedom of press/freedom of speech I thought we did."
After getting his trike back, Kaufman delivered a formal complaint to the Independent Police Review Division about the officer's conduct that night. Here's an excerpt from his complaint:
"I believe the Portland Police violated my First Amendment rights, and that they conducted an improper search and seizure by taking away the "Disco Trike," the multi-media vehicle which holds the equipment I use to film protests, amplify public speakers at events, and play music for marches, etc.
During the protest, I was riding the Disco Trike, playing music and videotaping the action. My sound system was not playing at the time I was cited...
... I was surrounded by mounted police near SW 3rd and Main Street. An officer started to grab the camera from my hands, tried to remove it, and threatened to brake it if I didn't release it. The officer did not identify himself or explain why he was trying to rip the camera from my hands... I released the camera because of this threat. I complied and was handcuffed.
... I am very concerned about the chilling effect this type of police conduct has on our freedom of expression and freedom of the press. I believe the Portland Police improperly infringed my rights..."
While Kaufman says this incident has made him think twice about showing up at future protests, I seriously doubt we've seen the last of him — or of trikes. He said a donor has contacted PDX Bike Swarm and wants to give them several more for use at future events.