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Mani Arthur says incident in central London yesterday was “degrading and humiliating”

A Metropolitan Police officer was filmed yesterday performing a stop and search on the founder of the Black Cyclists Network (BCN), claiming that he could smell marijuana on him. The cyclist, Mani Arthur, described it as “a degrading and humiliating experience.”

The incident happened at around 2.39pm yesterday afternoon at the junction of Woburn Place and Euston Road, with the officer stopping Mani Arthur, who was riding with two other BCN members, one of whom filmed what happened.

Posting the video to Instagram, Arthur said: “I was detained and searched by a police officer under the suspicion of ‘smelling’ of marijuana. I was harassed and humiliated in a public space.

“To say that I am pissed off is an understatement. Luckily for me, fellow BCN members Aaron and Hugo were present and recorded the incident.”

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Today was supposed to be a historic moment for @blackcyclistsnetwork and @devercycles. . . This afternoon at around 2.39pm at the junction of Woburn Pls and Euston Rd. I was detained and searched by a police officer under the suspicion of "smelling" of marijuana. I was harassed and humiliated in a public space. . . To say that I am pissed off is an understatement. Luckily for me, fellow BCN members Aaron and Hugo were present and recorded the incident. . . In short, I was waiting in traffic for a green light. Three police officers were crossing the road. The one in the video told me to reverse my bicycle back behind the white line were vehicles have to stop. I was not blocking the pedestrian crossing. . . I told the officer that I would be putting myself in danger if I reversed because a small HGV was sitting directly behind me and I would end up in the driver's blind spot if I followed his instructions. I explained to the officer that usually there are cycle box lanes ahead of vehicle stop lines to protect cyclists and because there is a lack of one, I was using my common sense to avoid putting myself in danger. . . The officer tried again but I resisted and he turned around to join his colleagues as they were walking away. The lights changed to green. . . I was riding off to join Aaron and Hugo, who by that point were in the middle of the junction when I heard a call from the officer to turn back. . . I walked over to the officer on the pavement. He asked for my I.D. and informed me that he smelled cannabis on me during our exchange. As a result he needed to search me for possession. He searched me by the side of the road. Before the search, I asked him and his colleagues if they smell cannabis on me. They said yes. After the search. They conveniently said they did not smell cannabis on me. . . I am very annoyed at having to go through such a degrading and humiliating experience. It seemed to me like a gross abuse of power by an officer who tried to show off to his colleagues and made up a reason as retribution for his failed attempt. . . . @metpolice_uk . .

A post shared by Mani (@blackcyclist) on

Recounting the background to the incident, he wrote: “In short, I was waiting in traffic for a green light. Three police officers were crossing the road.

“The one in the video told me to reverse my bicycle back behind the white line where vehicles have to stop. I was not blocking the pedestrian crossing.

“I told the officer that I would be putting myself in danger if I reversed because a small HGV was sitting directly behind me and I would end up in the driver's blind spot if I followed his instructions.

“I explained to the officer that usually there are cycle box lanes ahead of vehicle stop lines to protect cyclists and because there is a lack of one, I was using my common sense to avoid putting myself in danger.

“The officer tried again but I resisted and he turned around to join his colleagues as they were walking away. The lights changed to green.”

That seemed to have brought the episode to a close, but that was not the case.

“I was riding off to join Aaron and Hugo, who by that point were in the middle of the junction when I heard a call from the officer to turn back,” said Arthur.

“I walked over to the officer on the pavement. He asked for my ID and informed me that he smelled cannabis on me during our exchange.

“As a result he needed to search me for possession. He searched me by the side of the road.

“Before the search, I asked him and his colleagues if they smell cannabis on me. They said yes. After the search. They conveniently said they did not smell cannabis on me.”

He added: “I am very annoyed at having to go through such a degrading and humiliating experience.

“It seemed to me like a gross abuse of power by an officer who tried to show off to his colleagues and made up a reason as retribution for his failed attempt.”

Posting the same video to the Regent’s Park Cyclists group on Facebook, he added: “Anyone that knows me knows that I don’t smoke. I barely drink. This just adds insult to injury.”

British Cycling, when it published its Diversity in Cycling report in June this year, said that it had started “as a grassroots project that was sparked by a conversation between experienced road racer Andy Edwards and Black Cyclists Network founder, Mani Arthur.”

The governing body said that the report, which “sets out to explore the experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) cyclists taking up cycling as a sport for the first time,” would be shared with “its network of volunteers, clubs and members.”

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.