The war between bicyclists and the community appears ready to take on a Samurai twist, following a constitutional ruling by the Oregon court of appeals published today.


The court has overturned the February conviction of a man for carrying a concealed ninja sword in a Critical Mass rally. According to the appeals opinion, James M.Turner was riding his bicycle in a Critical Mass rally, when a Portland Police Officer riding next to him saw "three to four inches" of a sword handle wedged between Turner's back and his backpack. The officer testified in court that there was no doubt in his mind that the object was a "sword or [something] similar."

According to the transcript, the officer asked Turner, "What's sticking out of your neck?"

Turner replied that it was a "ninja sword," and the officer motioned for him to pull over. After Turner stopped, the officer removed the sword, which was sheathed, from between Turner's body and his backpack. As he removed it, he discovered the sword was contained in a "double sheath, where one sword goes in one end, one in the other." At the time the officer removed the first sword, he had not seen and was not aware of the second sword. He arrested Turner for carrying a concealed weapon based on his discovery of the second sword.

The appeals court ruled, however, that the officer did not have probable cause to stop Turner for carrying a concealed second sword, based on their conversation about the first sword, which did not constitute an official "stop." However, the interaction became an official "stop," the court ruled, when the officer motioned to the rider to pull over.

Under Article I, section 9 of the constitution, a "stop" must be justified by the officer's reasonable suspicion that a person has committed or is about to commit a crime. Because the officer lacked reasonable suspicion to believe that defendant was carrying a concealed weapon at the time that he motioned for Turner to pull over, he unlawfully stopped him, and the trial court erred in failing to suppress evidence of the second sword, ruled the appeals court.

Bikeportland readers: You know what to do.