Note from the publisher, 6:14 pm: This story was originally posted described a situation wherein attendees at a ride on Sunday believed they were accompanied by a Portland Police officer named Chris Uehara. After seeing photos of the officer and learning other similarities, I posted a story describing the situation and included quotes from ride participants who believed the man to be Captain Uehara.
I have since heard from the Portland Police that the man on ride was not Capt. Uehara.
In addition, I have also now confirmed that the man was indeed not Capt. Uehara but was instead a man named Krisapon Chaisawat (here’s his Facebook profile). Chaisawat (who goes by Kris) is a 35-year-old food server who lives in Portland and works in West Linn. He called me after his wife saw his photos on this site. He said he’s from Key West, Florida and just moved to Portland a few months ago. Chaisawat said he attended the event after hearing about it on BikePortland and just wanted to go on a ride and meet some people. About the story, he said, “I thought it was an April Fool’s joke.”
For what it’s worth, Chaisawat seemed very understanding of what happened and just wanted to clear things up. The Veloprovo folks feel bad about the error and have reached out to Kris with offers to connect, go on a ride, and/or buy him a drink or two.
I regret the misunderstanding. I went with my gut because I felt the story was worth publishing with the information I had. However, I published it without 100% confirmation about the man’s identity. That was a mistake. When I published it, I didn’t fully respect or appreciate how it might make people feel if I was wrong. For that I am deeply sorry.
As always, I have learned something from this situation and I will keep all of your feedback in mind and use it to inform my decisions going forward. Thank you for your understanding. – Jonathan
UPDATE, 4/3 9:45 am: Someone who was on the Veloprovo ride has posted their thoughts on this story: Radical Accountability vs. Security Culture: An Unconditional Apology for My Racism
UPDATE, 7/31/13 at 10:01 am: For everyone reading this story for the first time via a link from BikeSnob, you might be interested to know that I have met Chaisawat in person to talk about this situation. He was a bit surprised at all the fuss people made about it and he understood why/how the mistake was made. I also had a sit-down meeting with Officer Uehara back in April. Read my recap of that meeting here.
If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.
Of course he’s a cop. What cyclist would wear a Livestrong shirt anymore?
Here’s full coverage of the ride itself: http://www.mismanagingperception.com/veloprovo-launches-car-culture-trembles/
thanks Hart. Just replaced that first link with your recap link.
No, April Fools would be the wildly implausible scenario where the police fully admit what they’re up to and apologize.
Gotta love clumsy infiltration attempts though — prime entertainment value! How can a cop, whose job on some level necessitates being alienated from everyone except other cops, ever hope to fit in and be accepted into any group besides cops?
On the other hand, I also find it amusing that it might not be the same guy. If that’s the case, someone is going to look mighty foolish, and a touch racist — “They all look alike,” even though one guy seems Hawaiian (including the name and skin tone), the other Asian, and northern Asian at that (Korean?) Just guessing of course. Maybe he got a tan last summer and lost it over the winter. Notice how I admit uncertainty, thereby saving myself from looking like a total arse. (Instead looking like a partial arse as usual.)
PS: “Not talking to anyone and filming everything” describes half the people I see at any given public event!
“[he] didn’t speak with anyone and was filming everything”
I guess sometimes we can be glad the PPB isn’t so good with the training. Our tax dollars at work.
Unless he’s there on his own time which is possible. This seems about as clumsy as an attempt to be undercover as the Boston Police trying to break up DIY concerts using social media (http://www.spin.com/articles/boston-police-accused-catfishing-shut-down-local-diy-shows)
I hope that this is just the most uncanny resemblance of all time, but same name, look, same build, same voice — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBWvlg9A__Y — same glasses, filming people… I dunno PPB…
“Battle Mode”..Ha! Seems like a Livestrong motto a cop might wear. I will buy the first person to solve this mystery (for real), a case of their favorite local brew ! If that aint him, I will eat my shorts.
Start eating. Make sure you post photos of your meal.
I would like to have an undercover cop join me for a ride. Maybe he could document illegal activity by drivers. You could try inviting the police to ride along, but if you did that they would probably loose all interest.
Sounds like a great idea. You can A: Show the cops that their fears are groundless, or B: Speed up the process if the intent is to engage in civil disobedience. I find it hard to believe that PPB would publicly lie about whether one of their officers was present. Too easy to prove otherwise. They would look stupid enough planting an undercover cop into a group of bike protesters. To then lie about it compounds the appearance (and actuality) of stupidity.
How to do copwatch, without really trying. http://www.pivothead.com/
This is clearly a case of twins separated at birth. One got all of the authority genes (Cpt. Euhara), the other, all the anti-establishment genes (Mystery Protester Euhara). This is all clearly explained in the movie Twins, and to a lesser extent, Multiplicity.
Update, the man on the ride is not the officer. They share an uncanny resemblance and name and apparently the same pair of glasses, but he is NOT same person.
Glad to hear it was just a case of mistaken identify, but Portland citizens have every reason to be suspicious, as City Council publicly aired their consternation during the 3-27-13 council session that the FBI operates in PDX with impunity, breaking our JTTF agreement by not sharing promised information — tho they only share it with non-council members — as in City Council just realized they no longer run the PPB — the FBI does.
See footage of council with time code sequence so you can jump to juicy parts or listen to your fave Occupier or Civil Rights Atty speak out (since NO ONE but Saltzman spoke in favor), posted at the email-campaign event on the website listed above.
No, you have to light a dumpster on fire or throw a brick at a bank if you want to get the PPB’s attention. You know, real constructive forms of protest. The kind that win hearts and minds. The kind that will surely change the mainstream public opinion about anarchists.
I guess they all look alike to some of you guys. Pretty telling on a couple levels. If you needed an example of why charges of racism were leveled during the N. Williams debate, you just got one.
You’re completely wrong in your assessment of both my character and this story. I never confused the two men, I only reported on what I heard was being alleged by the Veloprovo group. I do acknowledge that in hindsight I should not have published the story without 100% proof. But to allege this as an example of me being racist is completely off base in my opinion… as is any similar allegation around the Williams project. You are entitled to your opinion, but I disagree with it.
Thanks for your comment.
When you say you “never confused the two men”, do you mean you actually had doubts about them being the same person before you published the initial story? Because that would be even more concerning at some level. Regardless, this was a serious allegation that this group made which affect two individual human beings. An extreme level of due diligence should have been put into posting such a story, regardless of how close and trustworthy your sources may appear to be.
While some of the comments here are questionable in their tone and choice of words, I think the passionate responses show how much your readers care about this blog. Please don’t be discouraged; instead, let this incident make this blog stronger and wiser.
i can’t call you racist, but can i call bikeportland fox news?
What a great start for veloprovo! How paranoid must they be to assume that some suspicious character in their midst is an undercover cop! THEY ARE ALL SUSPICIOUS CHARACTERS! What makes it worse is that because this guy had ethnic qualities similar to a cop they have met once they think its him! Talk about racism!!! And don’t try and deny it, every post up until then was piling on those dastardly cops and their inept mole.
Jonathan should get a little bit of a pass because he was just reporting on these anarchists, not realizing their paranoia and blatant racism was what was really being displayed.
Great way to be on the cutting edge of social issues!
What you might not appreciate or realize is that the folks behind Veloprovo have a lot of experience doing street activism and some of them have been the subject of police questioning and surveillance in the past. Also, given the fact that the PPB has placed undercover agents in bicycle-centric activism events (critical mass) it’s entirely plausible to think they’d be tracking this group.
I never pass judgement on a cop’s value, intellect, or percieved ineptitude based on race. To me they are cops, no more no less . I have no opinion of Veloprovo either. Having led a mildly rebellious life and confronting authorities (against better judgement sometimes) on occasion,I can tell you that they often hide their malice behind the badge, no matter their ethnicity. Ever had your face pan seared on the hood of a patrol car on an August afternoon, 104 degrees in the shade, humidity at 74% ? Ever heared of the White Riots in San Francisco ? Race had nothing to do with my mistaken observation here. Sorry to disappoint.
…. oops. heard, not heared.. ha 🙂
Another example of why you should VERIFY before you publish Jonathan.
Oh you mean try to be a real journalist instead of a pretend one?
what do yo mean by “real journalist?” someone from the Oregonian? Someone owned by a corporation whose sole purpose is to sell ads and generate wealth for the shareholders?
Someone who gets fired for this kind of thing.
Please post the link where we can read about your journalistic credentials.
I don’t need to be a credentialed journalist to know that you need to check more than one source before you print a story.
Ah yes, thanks for the lesson about journalism cyclist. But I really don’t need it. I’m well aware of how this works and of the value of verifying things before publishing them. In this case, I heard the suspicions of the Veloprovo guys and given some other contextual stuff I felt it merited a story. It was a mistake and as soon as I heard from Chaisawat I deleted the story immediately.
Thanks again for your comment.
My comment wasn’t in reference to your reporting or you. My appologies that it was take as such. It was a comment about the actual situation.
You apparently haven’t learned much, otherwise you would have contacted PPB *before* you published the story. As I’ve said to you, repeatedly, you should check both sides of a story before you publish. You checked one side, then the “contextual stuff”, then said, “all’s good.”
You lose nothing by calling the PPB to verify this story before you publish it. “Publish, then verify” is irresponsible, and people here should hold you to a higher standard.
Do you think that ANY PD would say “sure, we had an undercover agent at that meeting”? Whether they did or didn’t the answer would be the same. That’s just common sense.
Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean people aren’t out to get you.
“Just because you’re paranoid, don’t mean they’re not after you” -KC
I found this post to be pure satire and I am almost certainly far to the left of any of the protagonists.
This story is embarrassing. If it’s not April fools it should be. Let’s get FACTS before we jump off the handle and post crap like this. No offense but really?
let’s cut jonathan some slack. he’s just reporting on what other people tell them. if jonathan would not have published this story, the man’s wife never would have seen the photos and people would continue to believe that an undercover officer was on the ride. so by putting the information out there that he was hearing, he was able to get to the truth. he also updated and corrected the story in a very timely manner. keep up the good work!
Throwing a bunch of rumors against the wall and seeing what sticks isn’t good policy. He has done this before where he later recants but somehow shifts the blame or focus off his shoulders. He must be comforted knowing there are people like you who thinks this is a good thing.
I disagree that I simply “threw a bunch of rumors against the wall.” There were many people on the ride — including a woman who spoke to Chaisawat, then watched the Uehara video and still thought it was the same guy — who told me they were convinced that Chaisawat was Uehara. I felt there was enough credibility in their allegations that even though I did not have 100% proof of identification the story should still be done.
As for how I’ve “done this before” that’s simply not true. I have written almost 9,000 article in the past 8 yrs and yes I have made my share of mistakes but this was a unique situation.
I am fine with criticism, but I won’t let it go unchallenged if I feel it is unfair and inaccurate.
I’m willing to eat crow here too and stick up for Maus. There were literally dozens of us going back and forth and asking if this could really be PPB. The coincidences were many: same name, same appearance, same build, people who spoke to Kris and saw the Uehara video said “holy shit, same guy”, etc. What pushed most people over was that they wore the exact same glasses. Some oddities — brand new bike, lots of tech (camera), he was surprisingly quiet. A lot of people (including journalists who would have run the story) didn’t even believe the PPB story at first (wouldn’t be the first time PPB lied). It wasn’t until someone ran across Kris’s FB page right about the same time that he called Maus that it became obvious we were in the wrong. And, like a good journalist, Maus retracted the story, issued an apology, and set the record straight. Keep in mind that Maus never declared anything; he was reporting on chatter that was going on through a fairly large network of bicyclists who were all wondering aloud about the same thing.
But, happy end to the story. We reached out to Kris, apologized profusely, pledged to buy him mucho beer and he accepted our peace offering. He’s still super pumped about kicking ass on livable streets even while some of us feel like amazing idiots.
At least he fully acknowledges his mistakes and recants or corrects them. The same thing cannot be said about certain other news organizations that publish non-troversy stories and rarely correct them.
Mike, I do get where you are coming from, but I think that Jonathan does a good job being accountable and correcting his mistakes after the fact.
Any journalism is going to make mistakes, mainstream vs bloggers – its all the same.
I was there. I wouldn’t have thought he was a cop. But then again I’d be just fine with cops who want to go on a bike tour of dangerous intersections, and help with some gardening. He didn’t talk much and was the first to leave, so I can imagine if you’ve been on the wrong side of the cops before you might wonder.
It’s time to cut Jon some slack. He wasn’t on the ride, but I was. I knew almost everyone there besides Kris. When he arrived, I shook his hand, gave him a sticker, and we introduced ourselves. He showed up at the last possible second before we left, which seemed a bit strange considering none of us knew him.
Having worked with other activists who have been beaten and arrested, I am very cautious of Portland law enforcement.
Kris didn’t say much on the ride, but took a lot of video. Regardless, I didn’t see any reason for alarm. It wasn’t until the next day that images of the police captain emerged wearing the exact same glasses, with the same abbreviated first name, and after an exhausting day of comparing dozens of photos trying to disprove the connection, enough people within the group as well as other journalists besides Jonathan felt the PPB was being dishonest, that the individual on the ride was in fact working as an undercover police officer.
I truly regret not trying harder to disprove this false conclusion. But human beings make mistakes, each and every one of us. And we have reached out to Kris to apologize for being wrong, and we will be coming together via beers and bicycles to make amends and hopefully new friends while building trust for one another where ever possible.
The direct action we took on Sunday was a huge success, but out of well-founded worry over being surveilled, we collectively made the wrong call when we truly thought we were right. I’ll freely admit that and take responsibility for this error.
Feel free to join us next Monday at 5:30pm as we use our bikes to build community and build new friendships: https://www.facebook.com/events/549677315063287/
Hart: That’s a nice follow up.
Jonathan: Tough call. The coincidences were remarkable. PPD’s response should have (did?) set off alarm bells. Lesson learned. Your contribution to the Portland area community is massive.
The full names of both individuals were not available at the time of publishing, and no decision was made based on this fact. The original article did not say with any certainty that the two people were in fact the same person, but acknowledged the questions of those on the ride while asking for more info from the public. Once that information was available, Jonathan updated the article accordingly. That is what any responsible human being would do.
Stalkhunter, you have absolutely no credibility with a name and avatar like that.
A responsible journalist would have called the PPB before he published the story. We know Jonathan has contacts at the PPB, so he wouldn’t have had to sit on the story for more than a day. Then he could have avoided this whole embarrassing mess.
Jonathan’s not a traditional journalist, so it doesn’t really matter if he’s “first to press,” right? And let’s be honest, who’s going to publish this story before him anyway?
Like the PPB would actually confirm or deny?
Jonathan called them. They denied the officer was present. Jonathan updated his post. So yes, they would do that.
Oh, white people. So paranoid its sad. 🙁
Oh, you, so apparently condescending with your generality, it’s no wonder human beings make mistakes.
I don’t think Jonathan or anyone on the ride did anything wrong. The original article is still cached in the Google Reader RSS feed if anyone wants to read it. It clearly states that the connection wasn’t proven yet and was awaiting confirmation.
All of that said, I’m glad an apology was issued to Kris C. I’m a bit surprised an apology hasn’t been offered to Chris U as well.
Wow, this whole thing is a pretty sad affair. Sometimes we as a bike community do a whole lot of navel-gazing… Maybe this will open our eyes up a little and let us know there’s more to it than just us…
This story would have been so easy to verify–you already had the supposed officer’s name. Did you call the police?
Because it would have been so easy to confirm this one way or the other, I was convinced it was an April Fool’s joke. It was just too much sloppy innuendo to be real. The funny thing is, I figured the rider was the cop, but he was just a friend of the group who was in on the joke.
I’m glad to see this has made you a convert to verification.
NOTE: These comments were closed for several hours on Tuesday (3/2) morning. I’ve decided to re-open them because many people have told me they have more to say about this story. Thanks for understanding.
Why were the comments closed at all?
I closed them because I felt without context of the original story (which I have since posted as a comment below) many people were jumping to conclusions about what happened and they were casting all sorts of speculations that are simply untrue and unproductive. I also felt with 45 comments — including from two main people involved at Veloprovo — that much had already been said.
I re-opened them after an ongoing discussion about the story on Twitter.
I re-opened the comments for the same reason I closed them and for the same reason I posted the story initially — because it felt like the right thing to do at the time.
I erased the entire original story to minimize confusion and to give the people involved a break. However, I feel the context and the way I reported the story is important to fully understanding what happened here so I’ve decided to paste the text of the story as it originally appeared below:
Activists suspect ride participant is an undercover Portland Police Bureau captain – UPDATED
(Photos: Nicholas Caleb)
UPDATE: A PPB spokesperson says Cpt. Uehara was not at these rides. See full update below.
Participants in an organized bike ride this weekend say they were accompanied by an undercover Portland Police Captain named Chris Uehara. Photos of who they suspect to be Cpt. Uehara attending the “Veloprovo” ride on Sunday surfaced on Facebook this morning. In the photos a man wearing a yellow Livestrong t-shirt, fitness pants and bike-specific shoes can be clearly seen standing next to a road bike, listening to speakers before the ride, and raising his fist in a group photo.
The same man appears in a photo of the Tar Sands protest ride last month which was organized by the same group of activists. The group behind these rides has ties to the PDX Bike Swarm that coalesced during Occupy Portland. As we’ve been reporting, the group does not hide the fact that their brand of advocacy is more radical and aggressive than anything that currently exists in Portland.
The man in these photos appears to be the same man wearing a PPB uniform and identified as Cpt. Chris Uehara in a Portland Public Schools video from September 2012. Tracy Mattner was on the Veloprovo ride Sunday. She spoke to the man and is sure it’s Cpt. Uehara. “I spoke to Officer Uehara, who identified himself by his real first name, Chris.” she shared via email today. “He did not identify himself as an officer, but claimed to be a bicycle activist and enthusiast. When I asked how he heard about the event, he simply said he was at the “Tar Sands Ride.” Later, during group introductions, he stated that he had sold his car to buy the brand new bike he was riding.”
Another person on the ride, Nicholas Caleb, says having an undercover officer on the ride is a sign that we live in a “police state.” Caleb says the group has publicized everything they’ve done, held public meetings, videotaped their speeches, and so on. “You’d think when you do that, there’s no way you’d be the target of police surveillance.” “It’s scary,” he added, “But, we’re going to keep going forward with our positive ideas and creative energy.” Caleb said the man he suspects of being Cpt. Uehara was suspicious because he had all brand new “stereotypical biker gear,” didn’t speak with anyone and was filming everything. It’s worth remembering that the Portland Police has a history of secretly monitoring bicycle-based activism.
According to research by documentary filmmaker and publisher Joe Biel, the Portland Police Bureau once labeled critical mass participants as “anarchists” and sent undercover officers to critical mass meetings and rides. During research for his book, Bi Pedal, By Pedal! and his documentary film, Aftermass: A post-Critical Mass Portland, Biel unearthed police documents that proved this to be the case. The PPB not only attended critical mass meetings and rides, but Biel asserts they also created false narratives by embellishing reports and even instigated hostile actions during the ride. Reached today for comment about this recently alleged undercover action, Biel said, “I think the very nature of activities that push a change in culture threaten police training to the very core and demonstrate that the institution of policing exists to protect the status quo until political will is ready to push it over the brim.” Last year Mayor Charlie Hales (interviewed prior to being elected) told Biel during an interview that he opposed the police presence at Critical Mass. “What I was concerned about was the fact that the police thought this was even a big deal at all,” said Hales, “I thought, hey, these are just some people riding bikes… why don’t we just leave these folks alone?”
I’ve contacted the PPB Public Information Officer Lt. Michael Marshman for comment and I hope to hear back soon. UPDATE, 4:32 pm: The PPB says Cpt. Uehara was not at the event on Sunday. Below is full statement from PIO:
Jonathan, I really value your re-posting the original story and re-opening comments after your initial decision to close them, based on input from other people. I hope we can continue to have a productive and listening dialogue.
That’s some positive spin. The posts should have never come down in the first place. The O got lambasted a few weeks ago on this blog for misleading readers about facts, but this is beyond acceptable to do in removing a story without good reason, which there wasn’t.
I am disappointed that Bike Portland chose to further publicize this group’s public accusation. Sorry, Veloprovo, you are not that important.
Also, I don’t like that Jonathon chose to publicize an activist group that uses Critical Mass -like tactics. That group is universally reviled. These tactics do not deserve any publicity. Furthermore, the name of the group implies they are trolling for a harsh police response. We are the most bike-friendly city in the country, and I’d like to keep it that way. Fomenting MORE antagonism between cars & bikes and between cyclists & police is counterproductive. I need fewer people thinking I’m an asshole for riding my bike, not more.
Universally reviled…. Trolling for a harsh police response….
I need fewer people thinking I’m an asshole for riding my bike…
What is it with the inability to allow other folks to do their thing? You really think that planting veggies in the no-mans-land strips along the freeway is going to make someone think less of you (I mean that you’re an asshole) because you’re also on a bike?!
You make it sound like they… are putting Sarin gas in the subways or something.
Veloprovo isn’t about “letting people do their own thing” it’s about provoking people and getting a police response. Demanding that I-5 be torn down kinda flies contrary to that too.
I would rather Jonathon cover groups like Bicycle Transportation Alliance and those who reach out to disadvantaged people rather than give a spotlight those who act like dicks to other users of the the road (and then laugh about it over beers).
And by the way, great use of helmets during the ride! It looks like maybe there was 25% compliance.
This is without a shred of doubt my favorite comment on the thread.
I bet Jonathan is really pleased to have you spouting off like this on his blog after you made such a fool out of him today in front of all of his journalist peers.
There is a lot of good advice/reasoning in this thread. I’m glad you read it all Hart.
So much anger. So much unkindness. Wow.
I should have said you “helped” make a fool out on Maus. He made his decisions himself obviously.
Maybe they (undifferentiating proto-bike haters) won’t associate these vile acts with you after all, since, unlike you, these folks are not wearing helmets!
More broadly about Veloprovo’s stated mission:
I remember attending a huge critical mass in 01 or 02 and watching the cool anarchists run out of the crowd to spraypaint “elf.” These weren’t police provocateurs, they were guys who came to all the crusty house shows.
I was particularly ashamed of us when a guy slashed a car tire at sandy and burnside. He held up his knife and nobody did anything. Offending car was a guy who revved his engine until it overheated. Nobody had a chance to tell his corking is for everyone’s safety.
I’m just saying, the police weren’t interested in CM for no reason. If all your meetings are public, do the police really even have to identify themselves if they attend a ride?
Sad to see you pulled the comments on this. I owe someone some beer! Who ever broke the truth is owed, so let me know. Speaking for myself, I have a mild loathing for police in general. It is not uncommon for these type of actions to be employed by undercover officers. I find it amazing that people forget so quickly after the Occupy movements last year, how the police in Portland and many other cities were sussed out on this exact type of surveilance. If in fact anyone was offended by my comment, I would like them to accept my appology. I certainly do not believe your coverage was racist in anyway, and if it didnt come to name calling, it is kinda weak to turn off the comments. These two men do infact favor each other in an uncanny fashion. To fall victim to that assumption, is embarrasing, but not inheirently racist. I still cannot get over the fact that they look so much alike! If you meet the man Kris, on the Veloprovo ride, please tell him that I mistakenly took him for a cop, in a picture, on a blog,with no proof of that! And by the way, I am a white male with only one Asian friend, sadly enough! Peace.
Lighten the f%#@ up people. Seriously. Relax. Jonathan does a hell of a job with this website, which we all access for free (and should appreciate). Things happen sometimes. It is great that Jonathan owns it when they do — I would not be as patient as he is in addressing ridiculous comments. Stop visiting this website if you don’t like how things are done. Move on. (Oh, and those two pictures DO look like the same person).
Why didn’t someone ask him in person? Non confrontational when it’s 1 on 1 and not the swarm?
So, what if it HAD been Captain Uehara, off duty, going on the rides (Tar Sands and Veloprovo) because he believed in the cause? Is there really something wrong with a police captain acting as a citizen and wanting to rally for livability?
Sure, possible but how probable ?… How many cops would drink esspresso at The Red and Black Cafe, with me in my MDC t-shirt, just chillin’, ya know ?
In defense of Jonathan, he made an editorial error, not a racist one.
I get the sense that had the two men been white, black, or any other race or ethnicity and looked similar, he still would have run the story.
If there are issues of race in the story, it may be with Veloprovo, who assumed that a guy who doesn’t look like anyone in the group but who looks like a cop must be up to no good.
I think accusing Jon of racism is too much here.
Are cops not welcome on activist events such as this? Besides the mistaken identity gaffe, there seems to be some tacit approval by some in reagards to this. Any off duty in plain clothes must be undercover?
wow. an activist cycling group commits the racist “they all look the same to me” faux pas. What a truly Portlandia moment. Please keep them coming ROFL
How is it that you have determined the group’s perception was anything close to “they all look the same to me”? In the context of this story and its comments, I’d say your presumption doesn’t help anything.
Sorry but the dude does sort of have the look of an undercover cop trying to blend in but totally missing the mark. And never mind PPB infiltration of CM, there is a history of undercover Police infiltration within countercultural movements. This is not being paranoid, this is seeing a history of behavior and drawing conclusions from it, which sounds an awful lot like Police training when you think about it. Any time you are doing something that functions outside of society you have to be wary of unknown newcomers, which really sucks when you are trying to be open and inclusive.
White guys at Occupy events have also been mistaken for undercover officers publicly and mistakenly. I remember seeing something on Twitter about that once. Give Maus a little credit for reporting it out and producing the police denial and the interview with the actual guy. Instead of leaving things there.
And If one of them was Portuguese and the other one was Italian nobody would be making a big stink about it. Because us white people are all the same, just one big homogenous culture.
1. If veloprovo is worried enough about cops to stigmatize and alienate participants they don’t know, they shouldn’t have publicized their event so much, and they shouldn’t be posting pics of the faces of their participants all over the web.
2. Jonathan Maus, you of all people ought to be aware of the rap that the cycling community associated with this blog has for being racist and unaware of its white privilege. You of all people, if you want to remedy this, might try being more vigilant in giving a great deal of thought to what you publish here having to do with race and ethnicity. If you’re in doubt, don’t do it. Many people realize you enjoy jumping on any potential tidbit that wags its sensationalist tail in front of your face, but that hurts people needlessly.
I won’t presume to speak for Krisapon Chaisawat, but people in communities of color are hurt generally by actions like this. Racist stigma works individually and socially to harm people of color in so many ways.
Everyone who’s working for progressive change is also hurt by this. Ignorant behavior like what happened here only works to alienate us from each other.
3. White people of Portland: Whites may not all look the same to you, but it’s obvious that for many of you, yes even in 2013, people of color are hard for you to differentiate from each other. Realize this, accept this disgusting and appalling flaw, and act accordingly.
In other words, think before you open your big mouths.
Veloprovo member’s suspected a man, on their admittedly socially PROVO-cative ride of being a COP. Mr. Maus reported the story, along with snapshots of two men ( one a COP, and one we later learn to be….drumrole,..TA-DA!!!), NOT a COP! AMAZINGLY they look alot alike! No one here ever said ALL Asians look alike. Not a single person. I cannot speak for anyone (other than myself, in the vast realm of inherent white racism), but I hope one (if not both) of these men would respond with their personal opinions on this. That would be interesting. I understand you would assume that by living in the GRACE of white privledge(none of us who happened to be white), could EVER be sickened by it, or its structure. No, you are correct, none of us could ever see it for ourselves . Why is it then, that I NEVER trust a man/woman in blue, no matter his/her skin color?
Gawd, now I’m racist if I mistake 2 people for each other, regardless or color? Get a grip. And calling it white people problems is just as racist as anything else. And I’m now I’m white & privileged because I own a bike & can’t afford a car? Wow! I’ve read some clueless responses here, and yours now takes the cake Lisa.
Racist stigma can exist not only in the minds of those intentionally stigmatizing, but also in the minds of those perceiving stigma in actions that don’t actually contain stigma. There’s a significant difference between the two, and the latter is often ignored, resulting in ill feelings that create much negative potential.
I would say your stated perceptions fit into the second form, and if you can’t recognize that, I’d suggest you keep your own mouth shut until actually getting to know the people whose character you’re commenting on. Yes, maybe some of us white people can’t easily see distinctions between some people of color because we’re not so familiar with them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t recognize there’s no such thing as race, but instead only individuals, and act accordingly.
Racism is something I have no tolerance for, but potentially false and general accusations like yours don’t help resolve the issue. People of color and people working for progressive change are sometimes hurt by the first form of stigma, sometimes by the second form, and sometimes by a combination of the two. We won’t resolve racism by overlooking the mental behavior which allows it to continue: presumption/bias/illogical conclusions/judgment/etc.
Beautifully said, Lisa. Thank you.
Story’s on reddit now too:
Borderline racist. Decidedly paranoid and self-important.
I think more than anything this gave an activist group a taste of the challenge some law enforcement folks face every day. Police don’t know if someone (a suspect) is a threat or not. They run into this on a daily basis in their job… it’s difficult to determine the level of potential threat someone might, does not or does pose. They (police) are not perfect. In this instance an activist was labeled by his peers to be an undercover cop and a prime example of the police state we live in because his bike/gear were new and they didn’t know him. They vetted him thoroughly..asking him how he heard about the event. ‘ at the previous event’ where there is a photo of him. Information we have now but time at time of original publication.
The the story and or debate/discussion that ensued and how it was handled may have ruffled some feathers of others. People like to assign blame if they feel there’s an injustice. Others will defend their position if they feel they’ve done no injustice or actions are justified for the greater good. You’re all correct.
‘Undercover cop’ was fellow activist not a cop.
Veloprovo hypersenstive to presence of authority whether present or not.
PPD not present and accused Police Capt was with family all day.
Jon is not a traditional journalist but admits he could have taken more steps to verify some data prior to publication.
People are defensive and sensitive to certain issues…racism, biking, driving, law enforcement, police state, journalism.
Racism folks: if you agree or not have a point about how it could be considered racists. Reporting on the story w/o due diligence to verify facts isn’t racism but could promote someone else’s bias whether intentional or not.
Journalism: A reporter generally puts a lot of work into a story. Maus has a voice and a following. I think it’s natural and instinctual to defend one’s work. I believe the greater the voice the greater the responsibility to hold yourself to a high standard. There may have been better or more diplomatic ways Maus could’ve handled the feedback/commentary but I don’t think he’s hiding behind anything.
Veloprovo: I’m still not sure what they were protesting. They don’t trust police though.
Police: have better things to do than go undercover on Easter Sunday to a protest ride. No one is apologizing to them. (I believe this creates a unique opportunity for Capt. Chris Uehara…to now go undercover and infiltrate the group posing as Kris C.)
Cyclists viewed as aholes (as one commenter put it)… to drivers cyclists can be frustrating and require a little extra patience. Cyclists usually lose when a driver makes a mistake. Cyclists die. I believe what driver’s need is more awareness, patience and understanding. I didn’t ‘get it’ until I road my bike on busy streets. If your actions are testing the patience of a driver it might create awareness for your cause but it can also frustrate them so that next time they won’t be patient. Right or wrong someone could get hurt. It’s usually not the ahole driver or ahole cyclist. It’s usually when someone made an honest mistake (like mistaken identity) that the innocent are hurt or look foolish.
I wish everyone well. If you feel passionate about something do what you feel you gotta do. Just hold yourself to the same standard you’re expecting of others. While you might be right imagine for a moment that you’re wrong. What it does to your credibility if you are wrong. Then find out how you can be certain. We’re still in war because ‘we’ were ‘certain’ of WMDs in Iraq. Jordan quit basketball because he was certain he wanted to be a baseball player. OAK was certain JaMarcus Russell was starting QB material. Banks were certain that there was no housing/mortgage bubble.
I didn’t realize I had this much to say. Sorry for rambling.
This was not a protest ride, this was a launch ride. If you’d like to learn about us, by all means, read the our recap on MismanagingPerception.com
I don’t understand the “Jonathan is not a traditional journalist” bit. It’s 2013 all journalists work on multiple platforms these days. He’s either a journalist or he isn’t. But let’s let go of the idea of “traditional journalism” whatever that is…and for pete’s sake Jonathan of all people should stop using it as a defense/explanation/identifier.
I think it’s important for people to understand how my work, my outlet, and my role in the community is different than reporters who work for a daily newspaper or on TV, or in a more traditional role.
I do not use that as an excuse for anything. I mention it because I think it helps people understand where I’m coming from. Running an independent blog solo on a topic that’s infused with so much passion and activism as bicycling is, is very very different than filing stories at a major newspaper. Perhaps I should do a post explaining all this in greater detail. Thanks for your comment.
I think a post like that is not only overdue but it would go a long way to fleshing out what you mean when you identify yourself. I may be wrong but it sometimes seems you use the “not a traditional journalist” in situations where it comes across as defensive. And I know you are not defensive but words matter and that’s how these particular words appear.
The “Not a Traditional Journalist” defense is no different than the “I’m an Entertainer, Not a Journalist” defense when right wing radio hosts get called out for spewing offensive invective and derogatory names.
It is just as lame.
This makes me embarassed to be part of Portland’s bicycling community. As human beings, we are all fallible; I do not fault you for making a mistake (albeit a huge and irresponsible one). I do, however, fault you for your complete inability to practice self-reflection and admit that you were wrong and that race was an issue in this situation, instead opting to attempt to place the blame on anyone else available and choosing to meet your critics’ comments with immature and vitriolic attempts at justification. This situation represents most everything that is wrong with Portland’s “inclusive” bicycle culture. You’ve lost my respect, Mr. Maus.
After all of the buzz two weeks ago about Mr. Noecker’s tar sands protest, I decided to take a look at his Mismanaging Expections blog regarding the swarm ride. First post in the reader comments? Jonathan Maus calling the event, “Epic”.
Of course, Mr. Maus tries to play his “objective journalist” role by reporting on the protest ride shortly after congratulating the organizers by posting a puff piece (written and documented by the subjects?) about the protest on BikePortland. I am beginning to come to the conclusion that BikePortland has become nothing more than a P.R. megaphone for whatever Mr. Maus wants to support or what a friend at PBOT, BTA, City Hall, Alta, or advocacy group feeds him as “news”.
I have to seriously question the credibility of someone who, by design or accident, is recognized by supporters, detractors, and local media as the voice of Portland bicycling. Perhaps BikePortland has become the “Big O” and we need new blogs to report on bike news in Portland without the personal bias and insider coziness increasingly displayed here?
Are you somehow under the impression that any person can without bias make choices of what to cover?
Leah, could you please explain to me in detail how there is any evidence in this story that race was an issue in the situation?
I ask, because at the moment I’m leaning toward the possibility you aren’t holding yourself to the standards you held Jonathan to. It appears to me you’d be disappointed in yourself if you practiced thorough self reflection.
Caleb, I apologize for my slow reply. I just saw your response to my comment.
Before anything else, I would like to clarify said and what I did not. (Caleb, this is directed more to other comments on the site, not at your response to what I said.) I did not accuse Mr. Maus or anyone who was involved with this situation of being a “racist”. That’s not a term that I throw around lightly and one that is rarely a productive way to start a conversation. Instead I am saying that race is a factor that can’t be ignored, no matter how uncomfortable it is to talk about.
Would this situation have arisen if it was two white men? Would they still have been confused? Maybe, I won’t pretend to know for sure. Would I have done anything different if I was involved in the situation or would I have gone along with others on the ride in suspecting this man of being a cop? I’d love to say that I have the moral high ground on this one, but I’m not sure I wouldn’t have contributed. Group dynamics are a curious thing and it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. People make mistakes and I applaud members of Veloprovo for owning up to them, but perhaps the conversation should not stop there.
This situation presents a thus far missed opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about the ways that race plays out in Portland’s bicycle culture and contributes to the perception that Portland is a homogenous city that is not welcoming of “outsiders”.
It’s likely the case that the misidentification wasn’t because of race at the moment, but the way that it was presented (side by side photos of two men who, let’s be honest, don’t really look that much alike) mimics a well-worn situation in which white people “think that all Asians look the same.” Whether or not this was the case, it’s irresponsible to not understand that this is how it was perceived and to address it head on.
This is a chance to have an honest conversation about the ex/inclusivity of Portland’s bicycling community. Thanks for asking for clarification and further engaging me, I think this is an important dialogue to have and am curious to hear your thoughts.
Thanks for the response, Leah. No problems about it being slow, (I actually think it was quite fast, as this is my first look at these comments since I posted), but even if you didn’t answer, I would not have held it against you.
I think your post made it clear you weren’t labeling JM a racist. I only asked my question and my my statement because you faulted him for not admitting race was an issue in this situation. Yes, “race” is an ever-present factor in the sense that we all can illogically be categorized as fitting into certain “races”, but to say “race was an issue” seems to imply more than just acknowledging the presence of race, and that apparent implication is what I disagreed with.
I interpreted “race was an issue” to mean certain judgments were influenced by race, but I disagree that the story’s presentation indicated that. You urge us to be honest and admit that the two men don’t look alike, but that’s only according to your perception. I frequently see resemblances between mother-and-child pairs of sheep on our farm, but my parents rarely see those resemblances. Maybe VeloProvo and JM sincerely thought the two men looked alike.
Because there was no objective indication showing us Jonathan had any objective indication race was an issue, I disagreed with faulting him for not admitting so, because I think it’s irresponsible to presume somebody perceives something as we do.
I have no presumption about the current state of exclusive minds within the cycling community. In Portland cyclists I’ve witnessed prevalent exclusion, but also prevalent inclusion, both for whatever various reasons. Potential for both always exists, and what results ultimately comes down to all individuals involved. The individuals who exclude on the basis of prejudice are the ones who act on illogical presuppositions. Accusing someone of such behavior on the basis of our own illogical conclusions does not directly address the root problem. I propose we instead ask people like Jonathan questions, just like we might have wanted VeloProvo to ask Chaisawat questions, just like we might want those who exclude to get to know the people they exclude.
I don’t think it is racism, but it is a reflection on the lack of diversity that affects Portland as a whole and the hipster and bicycle scene in particular, and how it negatively impacts and limits people’s perception of the world around it. It also reflects the false sense of self-importance of these activists, perhaps believing to be more radical than they actually are, which is implied in the whole Provos reference – radical in 60’s Amsterdam, not necessarily in 2010 in the most bike-friendly city that there is.
You allege a false sense in others, but you allow yourself to state speculative characterizations like they’re fact. Why?
For whatever it’s worth, the two men did look similar to me in the posted photos, and I wouldn’t have been shocked if they had turned out to be the same person.
Equally important, IMO: my own whiteness, and the fact that I spend most though not all of my time interacting with other white people, is definitely a factor in this snap judgment.
I’ll echo the sentiments of many that Kris (and Chris) are welcome members of my community and should feel that way at any ride I might be on.
Willamette Week sez:
“Bike Portland Alleges Wrong Asian Man is Undercover Cop”.
They seem to think that journalists should be more responsible.