So here is an unusual biking story ….. a mystery if you will.
A cautionary and very sad tale from Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, Florida (US), about the May 6th police shooting of a young hooded cyclist – and the strangeness of how this whole event occurred.
I will preface this post by stating: I live in Brisbane, Australia, so am not privy to the context or have adequate knowledge or access to the full story, people, or news channels. The phenomenon of US shootings (ie carrying guns and public/police shooting in general) is something that we Aussies have absolutely no experience with, so this story is even more difficult for Aussies to understand. Regardless, I am sure there are many Americans (and others) thinking the same thing – how exactly did this happen?
For this post, I’ll just present what info I have collected thus far – so that you, dear reader, can sort it out, find out more if you are willing, and make up your own mind.
What is the mystery?
On May 6th, 2017, a young man was shot dead by an off-duty police officer at a car show. It was alleged he had a knife. Details of what actually happened are still super sketchy. One of the most provocative and unsettling themes to this story, is that the young artist, Nick Provenza (25), who had a history of mental health issues, was riding his bike and wearing a hoody at the time he was shot in public.
Police Shooting – young hooded cyclist killed
There are a few gaps in this story that make it unusually suspicious.
From what I can gather, this story is inherently odd given the patchy way information that has been released.
There are too few details or no details at all. The little details that have come out paint a very vague, dubious scenario.
There is yet to be confirmed evidence of there ever having being a knife.
Why the authorities’ focus on Nick wearing a hoody AND riding a bike (subversive/criminal profiling?).
How did the whole event disintegrate from Nick giving a false name/s to the officer, to Nick getting shot at a public event?
And how does a person ‘ride a bike suspiciously’ anyway? (- and how is that defined clearly enough to justify using deadly force? Is practising urban MTB trial tricks ‘suspicious’? Is it related to property, others, or yourself?).
The unfolding sequence of this story.
Here is the series of events I have been able to piece together.
This post is a step-by-step guide to the unveiling of this story as I discovered it.
If you are on Instagram, you can follow along and read the associated IG comments that add quite a bit of extra context. If you are not on IG, then I have included the main images so you can get the main gist for each step.
Here we go ….. May 6th was when Nick was shot.
- On Instagram, I saw this post from one of my IG buddies (if you are on IG, check out the comments). I was intrigued given that an ‘unnamed artist was killed for riding his bike suspiciously with a hoody on‘. I was also concerned that my fellow IGer was mistaken for being the victim. That took the story from being concerning and upsetting – and added a layer of personal. So, I decided to find out more.
2. I went online to find out what the news said.
At the time, there was only one news report I could find. It was a news article from the Tampa Bay Times. Later on, I found another from Fox 13 news posted on the same day. Both of them had pretty much the same very sketchy details. The main difference was that the Fox report was the first time I saw Nick’s name publicly released.
It made me very interested and I went looking for more info to shed some light on what had actually happened.
3. @flowerbikeman uploaded another post which was:
4. Finally, on May 9th, the Tarpon Springs Patch provided a few more critical details.
The name of the officer who shot Nicholas, Officer Scott MacIsaac, was finally provided.
Interestingly, this is the first news report that explicitly says that ‘people have been spreading false information about the case and speculating about its details’ – yet the ‘false’ details discussed relate to another officer being identified as the shooter – but no mention of inaccurate facts pertaining to Nicholas’s actual death.
Still a mystery as to how it went from Nicholas giving a false name to him being shot.
5. On Thursday 11th May, @flowerbikeman had reposted this on IG – and I was very interested in the comments that this post provoked.
6. Later that day, I found this news report online.
I had to do some extra scouting for it – but there is this news report about the incident (from ABC Action News).
Still very light on details. These pictures that were included in the report were new – and pretty powerful.
7. By this time the local word was well and truly out on IG.
The local and wider community rallied and here are some of the responses:
A sober reminder from @flowrbikeman on IG.
From @peenutbu on IG
A protest T-shirt from @orton_ndau to #handsupdontshoot
From @cassnectao on IG
@cassnectar’s above IG message reads: “cassnectar_ My [pained] face is blurred for a multiplicity of reasons – majorly because there is no single face behind this cause. It is NOT about me and this is NOT to score my own brownie points. Please; like & share to spread awareness.
Devastatingly, we live in a world where our loved ones are being killed for naught, by those meant to protect us. For riding a bike in public alone. For wearing a hoodie. For looking “suspicious.” WE ARE THE SUSPICIOUS IN THEIR EYES. We are the targets. We need to and we will fight for what is just, we need to stand up to those targeting innocent men. We need to question authority. We need to question EVERYTHING.
TSPD murdered Nick for riding his bike alone in a hoodie. After committing no crime. For being there, when they didn’t want him there. That’s why we’re here and that’s why we’ll fight as hard and long as we all possibly can. Nick should not be dead. We are his voice now.”
And back to where it all started with @flowerbikeman on IG.
So the mystery still remains as to what actually happened and why Nicholas was shot. I don’t think it would just be us Aussies who find this whole story particularly difficult to fathom. It is such a sad story. It is a sobering and disturbing reminder that our current society is still very resistant of, and reluctant to, accept people who are outside the mainstream hegemonic norm.
A tragic reminder that people who have psychological, sexual, cultural, interest, language or personal differences – those that I refer to as ‘divergent thinkers’ – are still sorely misunderstood and often (socially or otherwise) punished for their unique ways.
As someone who identifies with the group, I find this story all the more disturbing.
And you do not have to be ‘different’ to be moved by this story.
Ever owned or worn a hoodie?
Ever been in a situation where the police have come on strong and wanted to give ’em lip?
Been out in public recently?
Ride a bike?
No matter what the lead-up was, I’m sure we can all agree that the death of a young bike rider in such circumstances is shockingly tragic.
I’ll end this post with a memorial IG post from Rachel Reed. Ride safe my hooded biking brothers and sisters.
Postscript: Queensland is known within Australia as being ‘the Police state’. It was certainly a cultural shock for me to move from Melbourne to Brisbane and experience daily the differences in limited social rights, expression and creativity – and dealing with imposing, and often draconian authority – of which I have previously posted. This story also resonated with me because where I live in Brisbane (Wynnum-Manly), there was a 2011 one-month trial to ‘ban’ hoodies in shops, followed by a six-month follow-up trial in 2013. It was a voluntary ban and the details, duration and process of the ban are still unclear. Police reported that armed robberies were reduced, but no report or update outside of the new reports linked into here have released to the public that I could find. There is still talk locally of making it a permanent ban and implementing it for the whole of Brisbane city.