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Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop reneges on bicycle contract with Austin Police, still clings to police protection

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Another soft-spine retailer, this one in Texas, has reneged on a three-year agreement worth $314,000, leaving the Austin Police Department with a breached contract and a search for a new bicycle supplier, no fault of their own.

It appears Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop in Austin, Texas does not necessarily live up to its namesake—not so mellow when it comes to Austin police officers using bicycles procured from the bike shop in order to effectively conduct bike patrol officer duties and safeguard the community.

With Austin, Texas being among the major U.S. cities chronically impacted by so-called “peaceful protesters” who morph into anything but docile humans exercising their constitutional rights to voice concerns, gatherings in the Texas capital city have gone awry. Trying to tactically curtail unruly behavior by protesters, Austin bicycle patrol cops have had to use their bikes as trained, fashioning them as barriers against crowds attempting to bulldoze and breach police lines designed to hold back the thrust of hostile individuals ala Antifa-style miscreants flinging law, order, and civil discourse out the window.

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With merely one year into a multi-year agreement between the city of Austin and Mellow Johnny’s, the bicycle purveyor effectively opened itself up to breach of contract litigation for its about-face “supply of mountain bikes used by the Austin Police Department (APD) Downtown Area Command Unit” which operationally deploys “bicycles 24/7 and use this mode of transportation to manage large crowds during special events and to conduct routine patrols of residential and business districts in the downtown area.” Incidentally, Mellow Johnny’s shop is among those merchants protected by Austin’s finest.

Following is the official statement posted to Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop’s Twitter page:

Do you agree that protesting is acceptable, but rioting is not?

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Read that a few times and discern for yourself if the word poppycock applies or not.

Note the line near the bottom of Mellow Johnny’s tweet. It says, “We are not anti-police. We do believe our local [Austin] police force will protect us from the very threats we are receiving right now.” Of course: law enforcement has an oath to fill, others’ hypocrisy aside. Talk about driving in two different directions at once, and wondering about careful analysis to preclude such predicaments. In short: Stop kowtowing and grow a better set of wheels.

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Per LawOfficer.com, “It’s been reported that an Austin Police officer said a Mellow Johnny’s sales manager said the decision was made because three employees didn’t like the way bikes were being utilized for crowd control.” The GM “disputed that, saying it was a staff-wide store decision.” Staff-wide? The entire store’s employee base?

Something rank is going on here. The Statesman reported a polarizing perspective, directly from an Austin police officer named Christopher Carlisle who offered the following: “So now an owner of a business chose to lose one of his biggest contracts and listen to three hourly employees. The employees I always talked to at MJ’s were great and we never had a problem so I don’t know why MJ’s chose this path to go down.”

Interestingly, before Mellow Johnny’s walked away from the lucrative contract bid from the Austin PD, they took one of the COVID-related PPP loans in order to retain their employee contingent and sustain business as usual, according to Austin Business Journal. To no one’s surprise, ABJ reported that “Black Lives Matter protesters clash with local police officers on a regular basis.”

Is this sketchy contract breach stemming from another BLM mafia tactic: forcing businesses to their side (to do their “bidding”) and against police/government? As a Facebook commenter framed it: “Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop must be a Burn, Loot and Murder supporter.”

For its part, Austin cops are left in the lurch regarding the multi benefits of cops on bicycles: “Patrolling on bikes is a safe and cost-effective way to improve mobility and efficiently respond to calls for service in the downtown area. Bike patrol officers can easily navigate areas of downtown limited by traffic congestion and are able to investigate areas that may not be easily accessible by patrol car. Bike patrol officers are also often viewed by the public to be more approachable which enhances community policing efforts with citizens and visitors to Austin.”

According to Bicycle Retailer and Industry News (BRAIN), “The Austin Police Department has for months used bicycles to block protesters from roadways, according to WTBC-TV Fox 7 in Austin. The downtown area police command has more than 150 bicycle patrol officers.

“The department purchased between 50 and 100 bikes per year, Will Black, the store’s general manager, told BRAIN on Thursday.” And for those whose mindset is forging to boycott Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop for their anti-police maneuver, a distinction must be made.

Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop is a modest franchise, with another location in Fort Worth, Texas, whose proprietorship clarified that it is not in agreement with the Austin-based retailer conducting business under the same name. In a written statement, the Fort Worth franchisee declared they are not “connected in any way to the decisions made by the Austin location’s management,” and will continue a working relationship with cop shops employing a bicycle unit.

A message from our Fort Worth ownership: While Mellow Johnny’s Fort Worth shares the name with Mellow Johnny’s Austin,…

Posted by Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop on Wednesday, August 5, 2020

“Keep Austin weird” is a so-called city slogan which, given this Mellow madness, seems befitting…at least for one particular bike shop foggy about its feels for its protectors. Adding to the weirdness, doper Lance Armstrong is either a co-owner of Mellow Johnny’s or is affiliated in its operations (and perhaps decision-making).

This piece was written by Stephen Owsinski on August 9, 2020. It originally appeared in DrewBerquist.com and is used by permission.

The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of LifeZette.

meet the author

Stephen Owsinski is a LifeZette contributing editor. Owsinski is a retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is also a columnist for the National Police Association.

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