UPDATE: A 15-year-old bicyclist from Rockland whose detainment in Ridgewood on Sunday became a viral video refused to follow direct orders and resisted efforts to be taken into custody, Police Chief Jacqueline Luthcke said Monday.
The video shows a portion of the incident, in which police are seen taking the teen down as he tried to hold onto his bicycle – a response that some insisted was unnecessary force and called for action by the state Attorney General's Office.
The boy was part of a much larger group of riders who passed through other towns on Sunday before trying to head down East Ridgewood Avenue in the village.
The problem, authorities said, was that the street was closed to everything but foot traffic for a “Welcome Back Ridgewood” event in the business district.
Luthcke said village police used lights, sirens and a PA system to try and keep the bicyclists from getting near the closed stretch of road but that some continued on, eluding police and creating a potential hazard.
These included the 15-year-old boy, the chief said.
(NOTE: Juveniles in New Jersey technically are detained and issued delinquency complaints, not arrested and charged criminally like adults, under state law.)
“Ridgewood police were monitoring the Hawthorne Police and the Glen Rock police broadcasts about a large group of bicyclists in the road obstructing traffic and causing safety hazards to passing motorists and to themselves, while on Lincoln Avenue in their respective jurisdictions.
“Patrol units made attempts to stop the group with the use of police lights and sirens, as well as verbal commands over the public address system.
“The group continued to elude the police and obstruct the roadway as they traveled into Ridgewood where they encountered police officers on South Broad Street. The officers observed the group blocking the passage of vehicles in both directions.
“The group then traveled into a closed roadway on East Ridgewood Avenue where the ‘Welcome back Ridgewood’ event was being held in the Central Business District.
“The roadway was closed to motor vehicle traffic to allow for increased pedestrian traffic and for tables and tents which were set up in the roadway.
“Patrol units stopped the group to speak with the group about bicycle safety and about the groups’ conduct.
“One bicyclist disregarded the safety of others and began to pass the officer as the officer was speaking with the group.
“After some conversation, the officer advised that bicyclist that he was going to be issued a summons….At that time, the bicyclist attempted to flee and began to pull his bicycle away from the officer.
“The officers on scene then attempted to take custody of the bicyclist and the bicyclist continued to actively resist the officers.
“Ultimately, that bicyclist, a 15-year-old juvenile from Sloatsburg, N.Y., was transported to police headquarters, where his parents were contacted and he was issued four summonses for motor vehicle violations.
“The juvenile's parents responded to Ridgewood police headquarters, signed a juvenile release form and the juvenile was released to his parents.
“Due to the many facets of this incident, including, but not limited to the fact that we review every use of force incident and feedback received from the public, this incident is still under active investigation. This incident has also been referred to the Internal Affairs Unit.”
"Ridgewood police used excessive and unacceptable force against a Latinx minor today in [Ridgewood]," a group that calls itself Ridgewood for Black Liberation tweeted Sunday. "We are working with lawyers right now to ensure that this kind of disgusting display of force does not go unaddressed."
The group emerged when village police arrested a young woman during a July 4th Black Lives Matter march through downtown that included a call for reparations and a sign that said "Cops are Pigs.”
The group has accused the village of being “the greatest perpetrators and examples of America’s long and bloody history of suppressing black people’s right to existence.”
It also issued a list of demands on July 4th that included that the village school district removes its "Eurocentric" curriculum, establish mandatory “anti-racist trainings” for students and staff, hire more black teachers and staff and create a “public schools resource office” for students of color.
Members of the group said after Sunday’s incident that they’ll seek to have the officers involved fired and funding for the department redirected to the school district.
They also questioned whether police took him into custody because he’s Latino.
Witnesses said those people were twisting the facts.
"This minor, and a pack of his friends, rode around Ridgewood on the sidewalks, weaving in between cars and traffic, almost hit a toddler (intentionally, according to the toddler's mother), had previously done this in other towns while dramatically coughing and sneezing on people," one said.
"Some of that mob was reported in Hawthorne several times, driving out into traffic, making people swerve and slam on their brakes to avoid them," another said. "They physically assaulted several vehicles when the passengers yelled at them or blew their horns."
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