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Dan Kaufman’s media trike confiscated by police during J25 protests – UPDATED

Posted by on January 25th, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Kaufman at an Occupy Portland
event in November.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

Local media activist, musician and filmmaker Dan Kaufman of Crank My Chain! CycleTV had his “Disco Trike” impounded by the Portland Police tonight. Kaufman was downtown participating in the “J25” Occupy Portland event in support of the Egyptian uprising. It was planned as a peaceful march, but a large police presence was made and there were tense moments and several arrests. According to The Oregonian, it was the “most contentious Occupy Portland protest in more than a month.”

Kaufman has played an active role at Occupy Portland, especially with the PDX Bike Swarm (we profiled him about involvement back in November).

Kaufman was issued a citation tonight for violation of Portland City Code 14A.30.020: “Unlawful Operation of Sound Producing Equipment.” Kaufman maintains that he was not playing music at the time he was cited (see below for more details).

In addition to the citation, the police have taken Kaufman’s trike. The trike — a fixture at bike events throughout the city for years — is a rolling media center that includes professional audio and video equipment and the ability to connect to the web. Along with the trike, the PPB have impounded his amp, an iPod inverter, power batteries, microphones, and an Ortlieb pannier with other gear inside of it.

Kaufman is upset because he relies on the trike for his livelihood. In an email tonight, he said,

“They said they had warned me about the music so they were just busting me from earlier I think. They have been noticing me at a lot of protests and apparently don’t like the disco trike – but that has not been my experience. On more than one occasion the music I play from it has helped cool things down.”

Kaufman hosts a nightly, live Internet radio show called “Bike Check” and he addressed the situation on his show tonight:

“When you guys [the police] were going all ape s*#@… who turned on the Bob Marley? It was me, and everything chilled way down, including you!

You wanna’ take that away? I’m there to peacefully protest and do my first amendment right… This goes out to the mayor and everyone else … What kind of country do you want to live in? Think about that!”

Kaufman says he’s not going away and judging from comments I’ve read, it seems like the confiscation of the Disco Trike will only bring more support for the cause and a larger response. In the chat room that accompanies Kaufman’s live show, supporters wrote, “We will recover The Trike. The People’s Trike… You can’t stop the music baby… Who’s trike? Our trike!”

Kaufman is scheduled to appear in court on February 13th.

UPDATE, 2:12 pm: Here’s footage from the incident just uploaded to YouTube:

UPDATE, 12:30pm:
The Portland Mercury has more about what happened:

But things quickly got un-chill as the crowd marched around the fenced-in Lownsdale Park and Chapman Square and set up on the Elk statute in the middle of Main Street, shouting, “Whose parks?! Our parks!” Several mounted police in riot gear as well as an estimated two dozen officers on bikes rolled up to the protest and began issuing citations and making arrests.

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  • Zaphod January 25, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    I really want to know how this plays out.

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  • Spiffy January 26, 2012 at 7:38 am

    according to code 14A.30.020 it’s probably illegal to use your bike bell between 10pm and 7am… I’m pretty sure you could hear a bike bell 100′ away…

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  • Spiffy January 26, 2012 at 7:38 am

    also I hate vague laws such as “plainly audible”…

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  • Granpa January 26, 2012 at 7:51 am

    We have heard one side of the story.

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    • bearcub's a snob January 27, 2012 at 5:45 pm

      and that’s all you’ll ever hear.

      welcome to neverland!

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  • DK January 26, 2012 at 8:16 am


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  • q`Tzal January 26, 2012 at 9:10 am

    Why does the same discretion that police have not to confiscate automobiles (because everyone assumes the driver won’t be able to get to work) not also apply to bicycles?

    This is Dan’s ride and livelihood; far too often incompetent auto drivers are allowed to keep their automobile and license after KILLING someone with the whiny trite sobfest “But! But! I won’t be able to get to work!”

    If they are going to keep Dan’s trike the police need to go out and impound every over-amped 4 wheeled stereo system that feels like an earthquake.

    And I am actually very serious about that last part.

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    • bearcub's a snob January 27, 2012 at 5:44 pm

      mobile bike sound systems are often louder, and without the silencing affects of layers of sheet metal, steel, and fiberglass, they’re a whole hell of a lot more obvious.

      which is also the reason they’re awesome.

      if you’re gonna make a car v. bike argument, let’s keep it intelligent.

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      • q`Tzal January 29, 2012 at 2:18 pm

        I’m sorry:
        what is unintelligent about expecting equal treatment for sonic violators?

        Perhaps you’re from the O’s comment boards and you read this as a “KILL ALL CARS!!!11!!!111!!” rant but I was simply calling for:
        (1) equal punishment for vehicular offenders whether they be human, electric or petrol powered.
        (2) commensurate seizures of automobiles in situations where the vehicle operator was not causing a hazard to the public.

        When ever any person is using something and causing injury, death or damage (car, truck, chainsaw, fire arms, golf clubs) it is the responsibility of the police to “Protect and Serve”.

        How was the seizure of Dan’s trike within that mission?
        How was his trike damaging, injuring or killing the public?
        At worst, from the charges filed, he was being too loud. It is a menace and an extreme nuisance that I’ve called in in the past. It is not a high priority for the police and I have never hear of the vehicle being confiscated because of a simple charge “too loud”.

        If police are not going to confiscate or impound automobiles that are too loud why should the seizure of a human powered vehicle be different?

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  • John Lascurettes January 26, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Tangentially related to the J25 protests: Ray LaHood’s son has been barred from leaving Egypt.


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  • Neighbor Gregg January 26, 2012 at 9:49 am

    Dan, what can we do to assist?

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  • Allan Folz January 26, 2012 at 9:56 am

    Dan, best of luck and consider Kickstarter if it looks like you’ll need to fund a new rolling media center.

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  • Alain January 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

    If they are going to keep Dan’s trike the police need to go out and impound every over-amped 4 wheeled stereo system that feels like an earthquake.

    It’s an interesting comparison indeed. Maybe it happens, but I’ve never seen a police officer give a citation to “disco” or “over-amped” motor vehicle of which there are many.

    Though I don’t understand the law top to bottom, this issue of Dan’s citation appears to be an equity issue. Why is it permissible to do the same thing in a motor vehicle, when in fact it would seem more dangerous, and even fall in to the category of distracted driving.

    Where are the bike lawyers?

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    • John Lascurettes January 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

      I think this is more the PPD using the law (a law they don’t normally enforce) to target him (legally) to get him out of the way.

      It’s unethical, but it’s not illegal AFAIK. It’s akin to getting pulled over for speeding and saying, “you’re not pulling over all these other speeders.” It’s a defense that doesn’t hold up in traffic court.

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    • q`Tzal January 27, 2012 at 8:39 am

      I don’t remember mentioning “disco” but I do generally have a severe hate on for loud car stereos, musical genre be damned.

      I haven’t experienced this problem as much in Portland but pretty much everywhere else it is very common to have that one selfish moron in a dense urban living neighborhood who has turned their car in to a rolling sound system.

      And I mean:
      permanently removing the back seats and replacing them with equivalently sized speakers,
      amplifiers that take up the entire trunk space,
      entirely rewired car electrical system to power the load.

      It’s not just the noise, it’s the sound. The low frequency bass thumps that these soundfrekz constantly emit travel through things much better than higher frequencies. It translates well in to the sort of kinetic energy that knocks small fragile items around. Then when they discover the “joys” of infrasound they get their jollys off of screwing with people in ways that the police can’t stop.

      Not ONCE have I heard of one of these car being impounded but it needs to happen.

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  • BURR January 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

    This reminds me of the time at the August 2002 CM ride when the popo pepper-sprayed and arrested the guy with the mobile sound system; but I haven’t heard of any hassles since then and I thought over the past ten years the police were OK with bike mounted sound systems, WTF?

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  • Jack January 26, 2012 at 12:10 pm

    I’m alright with Kaufman’s bike getting impounded…if every single Harley that is operated in Portland also gets impounded.

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  • GlowBoy January 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Oregon law regarding use of motor vehicle horns was found unconstitutional a few years ago IIRC, thanks to our state’s broad free speech protections. It might be possible to build a case for Kaufman citing that precedent.

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  • Joe January 26, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Dan keeps the peace ! free the media trike 🙂

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  • Dan Kaufman January 26, 2012 at 2:44 pm

    Thank you for the support and concern. I got my property receipt today. I will attempt to get my stuff back before the court date. I really need it.

    I am very frustrated and inconvenienced. I also lost a special battery for my camera when they tore it from my hands it costs $130.

    My Camera was recording when that happened:

    As I now recall (with help from the video) they started grabbing my camera before they even told me I was being detained and I of course did not want to let go.

    I am glad I wasn’t arrested and I am glad I got my camera back (with my tape) but I still feel very targeted.

    The solution: Do it better! City of Portland, the Portland Police – but most importantly us – it’s what we have control of.

    We must come up with new ways to demonstrate that are more powerful, effective, safe, and accessible. I believe bicycles have a huge role to play in that.

    THANK YOU for all the offers for help. Please consider joining or affiliating your group with the PDXBikeSwarm http://pdxbikeswarm.org The Swarm has regular meetings and is in peaceful solidarity with Occupy Portland. You can also find out more on my show #BikeCheck (Monday-Thurs 9pm) at http://crankmychain.tv – There will come a time when I need use Kickstarter to help take the show to the next level. I’ll keep BikePortland posted about that and also when I get my gear back.

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  • captainkarma January 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    If you’re really serious about being a journalist of some sort, there’s something to be said about being discreet in this age of govt suppression. Loud music is not going to help you get the media message out if you’ve been arrested, beat down, confiscated or whatever. Not saying I agree with police brutality, but you gotta acknowledge the reality. Police now target cellphone and camera users.
    Everyone recording the police should be transmitting the video real-time to a confederate nearby who is doing the actual recording and will be safe from arrest and erasure or *accidental* smashing of camera equipment. Hate to think this is America 2012. !El poder de la gente!

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  • Tankagnolo Bob January 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Are there court house demonstrations planed for the day he goes to court? I would think that would be in order !! Right on about Harleys and car stereos. Only in Carmel Caly do they actually give tickets for loud car stereos. Clint Eastwood was mayor there and people listened. Here, a double standard, I hate double standards !!

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  • q`Tzal January 26, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Dan Kaufman
    We must come up with new ways to demonstrate that are more powerful, effective, safe, and accessible. I believe bicycles have a huge role to play in that.

    Take as a model actions by Anonymous, Protests against SOPA and PIPA and strategies but not weapons of Asymmetric warfare.

    You can’t fight a force of 100 tanks with 1 tank; you can sneak in at night and pour chlorine bleach in the fuel tanks.
    The Occupy Protests have presented themselves as a fixed target with inferior numbers, inferior force and decaying public empathy.
    Every time the larger force you are struggling against begins to adapt to your methods you need have already switched over to the next and planning a third.
    The chief advantage a small force has is mobility in thought, execution and action.
    Don’t be there when the hammer of the law comes down.

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  • Betty January 29, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Wouldn’t be the first time cops took property of law-abiding citizens simply because they were there, protesting at Occupy. I’ve seen it before. It’s something the police do to intimidate people. Once they take your stuff, you won’t see it for many days.

    Police enforce the law unevenly. No surprise there.

    Free the disco trike!

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  • Skid September 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    This has everything to do with the trike’s ability to record a protest and upload it to the internet. Confiscating this vehicle is a direct attack on Dan Kaufman’s Freedom of Speech. Who’s First Amendment Rights?

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  • Dan Kaufman September 24, 2012 at 6:58 am

    State v. Disco Trike is today – join us if you like https://www.facebook.com/events/114002395414958/

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