THE BICYCLISTS ALL ACQUITTED. - Were Arrested by Patrolmen Who Misunderstood the Law. - EINTRACHT ELECTION. - The San Francisco Call, 07 Feb 1896

From Wooljersey


Were Arrested by Patrolmen Who Misunderstood the Law.


Wheelmen, in Most Instances, Victims of Erroneous Judgement of Speed.
Unoffending Citizens Compelled to Practically Put Up $125 or Stay in Cells.

Twenty-one young men who had not thought of breaking the law, and most of whom had not broken it, stood up before Judge Joachimsen yesterday, and were acquitted.

The San Francisco Call Fri Feb 7 1896 3.jpeg

The great crusade of the police against unoffending bicyclists ended merely in expense to the City.

There is talk, now, of having some of the policemen arrested for arbitrary and uncalled-for attacks on law-abiding citizens, and it is probable that the trouble will not be ended for some time to come. There are charges, even, that the police are inspired by the street railroad companies to persecute the men who find means of getting to and from their homes without the aid of the cable cars or electric cars.

"The police have not the right to arrest anybody they please merely because he rides a bicycle," said one of the victims yesterday. "If, without reasonable grounds, they arrest a citizen who is peaceably walking on the sidewalk, the citizen can obtain redress in a suit for damages. The bicyclist who does not violate the ordinance has similar rights.

"It is entirely unjust to swoop down on a man merely because he rides a bicycle, and to lock him up in a cell at the City Prison until he can produce $20 as security in addition to his bicycle; and it is especially unjust when the arrest is made on account of the policeman's ignorance or misunderstanding of the law."

The bicycles used in San Francisco are generally of the kind sold for $105, and the men who were arrested had to leave them in the City Prison "as evidence," while giving cash bail of $20. How the bicycle may be used as evidence in regard to the alleged high rate of speed for which any offender may be arrested is not understood by the wheelmen, and the circumstance of having been caught on a wheel in any such case is not likely to be denied.

If the penalty were for riding a bicycle, then the bicycle might be of material evidence, but the wheel when introduced as a silent witness in a courtroom will never tell how fast its owner has been traveling.

In Oakland the men arrested for riding on sidewalks do not have to give cash bail of more than $5, and they are allowed to take their machines with them when they go.

The men arrested on Wednesday night are: F. P. Molloy, G. W. Hicks, H. Waltman, William Neal, W. H. Mack, Alfred Coutre, Alfred Ehmenn, Emil Languetin, J. S. Brown, Albert Arens, Louis Adler, T. W. Boyd, Archibald Reid, J. T. Whelan, E. E. Burmer, S. Bergstein, J. Utschig, G. W. Thomas, Richard L. Radke and E. Loudeck.

Languetin was locked up about four hours. He had something over $16 in his pocket, and his wheel was security enough for his appearance in court, but the young man was locked in a cell while he was trying to get word to his friends.

It is usually difficult enough to reach relatives and friends in such emergencies late at night, but the police added to the natural difficulty on Wednesday night and made matters as troublesome as possible for the prisoners. This adds to the belief that an intentional attempt at persecution was made by the police, and it is not understood who could have any motive in such persecution except the streetcar managers.

Twenty of the wheelmen were arrested on charges of riding over street crossings at a speed of more than seven miles an hour, but the police did not have any trouble in effecting the capture of the alleged offenders.

Reid says that he was not traveling at a high rate of speed, for at Fourteenth and Howard streets, where he was arrested. the pavement is torn up and rough, and it would have been unsafe to ride at a rate of more than seven miles an hour. Besides that, the policeman who made the arrest ran after him, and at a seven or eight mile rate the bicycle would not have been easily overtaken.

The officers of the League of American Wheelmen are unwilling to directly oppose the action of the police, as the ordinance is their own, but they insist that the demand for $20 bail in addition to the bicycles is entirely unwarranted. The ends of justice would be subserved, they declare, if the police should demand only a small amount of money as bail - the Oakland example of $2 or $2 50, without the holding of the bicycles, having been found entirely satisfactory.

There is so much interest in the crusade against the bicyclists and there were so many prisoners that Judge Joachimsen's courtroom was crowded yesterday morning.

The wheelmen were represented by Justice of the Peace Kerrigan, and when the cases were called the attorney rose and made a strong plea for dismissal. He acknowledged that some of the defendants had been technically guilty of violating the ordinance, but he held that the intent was lacking. The Wheelmen's League was determined that the law should be enforced and would uphold the police in enforcing it, but he asked that under the circumstances the cases should be dismissed, as it would be a warning to all bicyclists to obey the law, and some of those in court had been improperly arrested.

Prosecuting Attorney Dare pointed out that the ordinance was passed at the request of the wheelmen's associations, and it seemed strange that members of those associations should persist in violating it.

The Judge reprimanded the defendants for not conforming to the provisions of the ordinance, but as Judge Kerrigan had argued that they were only technically guilty he would dismiss the cases.


Meeting of the Protective Association and League Touring Board.

The Bicycle Protective Association held a meeting yesterday morning, which was well attended. J. Cal. Ewing presided, and R. W. Dennis acted as secretary.

In view of the fact that so many unwarranted arrests have been made lately by the police for alleged violation of the new bicycle ordinance, it was decided that the association's attorney, B. Noyes, be instructed to appear in court for any members of the association that may be arrested and conduct their defense. This is in line with the action of the League of American Wheelmen, whose members are being cared for by Attorney Frank H. Dunne.

General S. W. Backus was appointed a delegate to the good roads convention, to be held in the rooms of the Bay City Wheelmen next Thursday evening. W. J. Kenny will act as his alternate.

The Eintracht Cyclers held an enthusiastic meeting last night at their hall on Eleventh street, the occasion beng the installation of the following officers: A. H. Freund, president; W. Horstmeyer, vice-president; J. Lyngreen, financial secretary; E. Peterson, recording secretary; P. Schmidt, treasurer: H. Frank, captain; E. Peterson, first lieutenant; F. Horstmeyer, second lieutenant; C. Granz, sergeant-at-arms; H. Wolpman, color bearer.

It is said that the Olympic Club Wheelmen are about to organize a ladies' annex.

Harry F. Terrill, the champion class A rider of California, is expected back from his Eastern trip in a few days.

J. J. B. Argenti, B. D. Bent and W. M. Owen, comprising the touring board of the League of American Wheelmen in California, met last night at the rooms of the Bay City Wheelmen and discussed matters pertaining to that branch of league work. The board will get out a handbook of routes and distances shortly and arrange tours during the summer months. Information will be gladly furnished league members regarding routes and roads on application to the board.