Actor Wendell Pierce: ‘A Racist Police State Is Now Becoming the Norm’ in America

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02: Wendell Pierce speaks to the media at the "Clemency" UK Premiere during the 63rd BFI London Film Festival at the Vue West End on October 02, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI)
John Phillips/Getty Images for BFI

Actor Wendell Pierce says America is becoming a “racist police state” after a video appeared on social media showing police arresting two black men riding bikes in Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

“America will allow its racism to destroy its attempt at a more perfect union and democracy. A racist police state is now becoming the norm,” the Suits star wrote in a tweet, replying to a video showing officers in Peth Amboy arresting two black men and confiscating their bicycles.

It appears that the actor may have missed some key details that weren’t displayed in the short video being passed around online. Firstly, it seems that officers warned the gentlemen about certain city laws before they were detained.

The incident appears to have occurred on Saturday, April 17, when city police officers confronted two young men for riding their unlicensed bicycles on neighborhood streets. The video shows officers warning the men to get out of the streets and onto the sidewalks, but the officers later felt the men were not heeding the warnings.

Eventually, backup was called, and the men were detained and their bikes taken to the police station.

But, while actor Wendell Pierce accuses the police of being “racists” and creating a “police state,” the problem appears to be with the city’s ordinances. As it happens, the city of Perth Amboy has a long list of rules, regulations, and corresponding punishments for the use of bicycles.

In the city’s codes, rules for bicycles include the licensing and tagging of bikes. Perth Amboy residents cannot ride bikes without paying a license fee and displaying a tag on the bike. This is not a wholly uncommon law as many cities — usually in urban areas — maintain this licensing rule.

Further, there are rules against riding a bike on the streets unless you are riding with traffic. There are also rules against “trick” riding. According to the city’s laws, bike riders must have their hands on the handlebars and their feet on the pedals at all times.

Indeed, one Perth Amboy police officer was frustrated with having to enforce such rules. Video taking inside the police station reveals an officer calling the law “asinine” and insisting that officers have “so much better stuff to do with our time.”

With all the facts brought together, it appears that the one young man was detained because officers felt he was being disrespectful, and the two men were breaking the city’s laws for bike riding on the streets. Ultimately, the young men were released without charges, and their bikes returned.

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Still, Pierce has a long history of making extreme proclamations on social media.

During Georgia’s runoff elections, for instance, the Jack Ryan actor urged Republicans not to vote so that his favored Democrat candidates could win. Also, despite providing no evidence, Pierce repeatedly called Donald Trump an agent for Russia during the New York businessman’s tenure.

Wendell Pierce was even arrested in 2016 for allegedly attacking a woman who was then supporting Bernie Sanders’s run for president. Pierce was an ardent supporter of Hillary Clinton at the time.

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