Delivery workers protested at the intersection of 72nd Street and Broadway on Thursday, asking that more attention be paid to a series of e-bike thefts that have made it impossible to do their jobs. They rang bells and rode their bikes down to City Hall to continue the protest.
“We are asking for safety. A lot of guys are being robbed,” Melinda Gallpa, of the Worker’s Justice project, told the Daily News. The Worker’s Justice Project organized the protest. “Their bicycles are stolen, and some of them are almost $2,000. That’s why they’re here, why we organize,” Gallpa said.
There has been a pattern of e-bike robberies on the UWS recently: one robber knocks the rider down, another snatches his bike. Captain Neil Zuber of the 20th precinct recalled the dramatic arrest of one such thief in WSR in September. The 24th precinct also reported the arrest of more alleged e-bike robbers on Thursday.
YCO’s PO Navarro & PO Rosado, PO Marzillo & PO Bodner along with our FIO’s Sgt Ferreira, PO Ahmedi & PO Robles, in a team effort, were able to apprehend two suspects involved in a robbery of an E-Bike🚲 Great work by all‼️ pic.twitter.com/AmhaFAKuE7
— NYPD 24th Precinct (@NYPD24Pct) October 15, 2020
Delivery workers have been agitated about the thefts for several days, protesting in front of the 20th precinct on 82nd Street last Thursday. Initially that protest was mistaken for a protest against police. At around 3:30 p.m. last Thursday, about 30 men who deliver food for a living throughout the neighborhood on bicycles gathered across the street from the precinct.
”They actually rode onto the block on their bicycles, with some of them blowing whistles,” wrote Captain Neil Zuber, in an email to WSR.
My first thought was that this was one of the anti-police protests, since they often use groups on bicycles to scout routes and block traffic. Initially, I directed all the officers in the building to man posts as stationhouse security, and to secure the building and adjacent parking lot. Within a minute or two it was obvious that they weren’t hostile towards us, based on their orderly behavior and the officers’ initial contact. We quickly asked if they had two or three people who wanted to act as spokesmen, invited them inside to talk, and asked the rest of the group to move onto the sidewalk to allow traffic to pass. Honestly, it wasn’t very dramatic after the initial surprise, and if it weren’t for the months of protests over the summer our surprise probably would have just been curiosity. We brought the three spokesmen into the Precinct to talk to them while the rest waited peacefully outside. One of the three spoke passable English, but we used a translator (police officer) who was one of the first to make contact with them in front of the stationhouse when they arrived. He is a patrol officer, PO Perez, and they were comfortable with him so we had him continue inside.
“All in all it was a very positive encounter,” Captain Zuber added. “We explained the importance of reporting crimes, and reporting them immediately to give us the best chance of catching the criminals and investigating fully. We walked them through the process, and they now know how to directly contact our Community Affairs officer for further outreach and assistance. They mentioned trying to hold a rally for awareness, and we offered to help, but we’ve not yet heard back.”
Captain Zuber summarized by saying, “On the Upper West Side, while there are some actual robberies of e-bikes and possessions, the most common form of theft is actually their bikes while they are unattended. The delivery people, and most people for that matter, refer to the theft as being “robbed” but the crime classification is actually Petit Larceny or Grand Larceny based on property value since no force is used.