By Brian Chekal
A recent video of a violent encounter between bikers and a SUV driver in New York City has been igniting a firestorm in the media. With millions in collective views, the video and its many reposts has sparked controversy not only on television or the press but also on the internet, with large forums like the popular site Reddit devoting full discussions for members to chip in. Much has been said supporting one side or the other but who is really to blame?
In itself, the widely circulated video leaves many ambiguities. Shot from the perspective of a helmet camera of one of the spectator motorcyclists, it offers only a limited view of the incident; it shows the motorcycles blocking the car on the freeway, the car bolting through while running over a few bikes, and the bikers eventually catching up to it only to start breaking its windows and beating the driver. However, by consulting the police reports of the event we began to fill in the holes and form a more complete picture of what occurred. The brawl all started when a gang of motorcycles swarmed Alexian Lien and his family on the Henry Hudson Parkway in New York. After a biker cut him off and rapidly slowed down, Lien hit the motorcycle’s rear tire only to be forced to a stop by the entire gang. Without warning, the nearest bikers began to dent the car and slash its tires. In a fit of fear, Lien broke through the barricade, running over and possibly paralyzing biker Jeremiah Mieses; a high speed chase ensued, covering a total of 4 miles in distance. At a short stop where Lien seems to almost want to let the bikers pass, the bikers attempt to forcibly open his door, again leading to a high speed chase. When the car was finally stopped by traffic its loud honking did nothing to stop a biker from taking his shiny helmet and destroying Lien’s window. As Lien is dragged from the car and beat his wife, Rosalyn Ng and his 2 year old daughter in the back seat watched on in horror. By the time the police arrived the scene was and the assaulted Lien was left lying on the pavement. The Columbia grad was rapidly whisked off to the Columbia Medical Center to receive stitches in his head and torso.
Though many find these horrifying turn of events hard to watch, the fact that – at one point – up to 6 undercover police officers were riding with the group during this assault turns most everyone away in disgust. Though it is understandable that the collective undercover work of these cops may have become compromised by their stoppage of these actions, it in no way serves as an adequate excuse for such blatant turning of a blind eye. Yes, it may not have been optimal for the NYPD to declare their intentions and step in as mediators but such a drastic move may not have even been necessary. Is a badge necessary to act as an intermediary that defuses the mob mentality? Is a badge necessary to be a good Samaritan and help an assaulted man violently bleeding from knife slashes find medical attention? What is the role of an undercover cop if not to save lives? By refusing to “blow” cover and deciding instead to participate in the defacing of private property and the threatening of a citizen’s life in front of his or her family is a splotch on not only the reputations of the police officers involved but also the entire New York Police Department.