(VICE) One evening in June 2015, a man left Facebook’s sprawling technology campus in Menlo Park, California with two baby-blue bicycles. They were part of a shared fleet offered as a corporate perk; employees aren’t supposed to ride them off the property, but many ignore this rule, abandoning them around town to the ire of Facebook’s neighbors.
That night, Facebook’s security guards reported the bicycles as stolen. And after pinging their coordinates on GPS trackers, they alerted the Menlo Park Police Department, saying the company intended to prosecute. A police officer quickly found a Hispanic man and arrested him for larceny.
It’s common for residents to opportunistically use Facebook’s discarded bicycles, and for years police routinely stopped people—notably young people of color, according to some community accounts—for riding them, fomenting fears about racial profiling. The bicycles became an unexpected symbol of police tension in Menlo Park and East Palo Alto, where people of color feel criminalized under the shadow of immense technology wealth.
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