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How did I like that? he seemed to want to know. Had I learned my lesson yet?
• • •
I’m trying now to imagine this encounter from the cop’s perspective. Maybe he was having a bad day, and then didn’t see a cyclist because he was communicating with someone back at precinct. And then, there in front of him, was presumptuous-seeming me making a scene.
It was becoming a scene. The sidewalk was busy with pedestrians who had stopped to watch and shake their heads with sympathy and what looked to me like too much familiarity. Maybe the officer felt by then that he had no choice but to teach lessons to a young punk.
In a way, it worked: I was learning things. Not about who held the power in our encounter. Not about how to avoid trouble. After all, I literally went up to the cops and asked for trouble. The charges (and time wasted with cops, lawyers, hearing officers and automated city phone lines) would prove more than I wanted, but they were not as much as I was willing to put up with. The lesson, I decided, with a surge of something like civic responsibility, was the simple conviction that if you have it in you to speak up, you must. Another day, I might not have spoken up. In fact, I tried my best that day to avoid it. But by whatever confluence of forces, I did stop that car — and I feel fortunate for that.
• • •
Skipping ahead, the court dismissed the interference charge last month, and my lawyer is filing to have it expunged from my record. The moving violation was dismissed last week. I had hoped the case would go to trial so I could face the cops again in court. My lawyer had helped me understand the exact nature of the charge.
It was a Bicycle Events Violation, the fine print in the relevant subdivision of which suggests that I unlawfully participated in, of all things, a parade. Yes, unlawful parading — see statute 169.222 subdivision 10(a).
Up against a ton of metal, I am a fragile being; but up against this charge, I’m no clown.
Scott F. Parker lives in Minneapolis.
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