- A security guard working as a contractor for Uber tackled a Black teen girl who was riding one of the company’s Jump bikes, an employee told Vice.
- Uber hired private security guards, sometimes equipped with bulletproof vests, pepper spray, and handcuffs, to help it recover stolen electric bikes, Vice reported Tuesday.
- On “five to 10” occasions, those guards used physical force to restrain people while attempting to retrieve the bikes, the employee told Vice.
- An Uber spokesperson denied the incident, telling Business Insider “the characterization that security teams were ‘tackling’ people is wholly inaccurate.”
- Uber recently offloaded Jump, its electric bike and scooter business, to Lime as part of a $US170 million funding deal,CNBC reported, just days after announcing sweeping layoffs.
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A security guard hired as a contractor by Uber “tackled” a Black teen girl in Providence, Rhode Island, who was riding one of the company’s Jump bikes, an employee told Vice.
Following its 2018 acquisition of electric bike and scooter startup Jump, Uber hired private security guards to help it recover stolen bikes amid a surge of thefts, partly enabled by an insecure bike lock design and other security flaws, according to Vice.
Employees told Vice that those guards, whom they called “hired goons,” used physical force on “five to 10” occasions to restrain people while attempting to recover the bikes. The employee also said the guard who tackled the Black girl in Providence was wearing a bulletproof vest and was equipped with pepper spray and handcuffs.
An Uber spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Business Insider that it did not have a record of such an incident and that “the characterization that security teams were ‘tackling’ people is wholly inaccurate.”
“We explicitly told teams in the field not to engage in aggressive behaviour and not to forcibly remove anyone from an e-bike during the collection process,” the spokesperson said.
Uber pulled its electric bikes from Providence and several other cities around August 2019, citing “acts of vandalism” in a statement at the time. In May of this year, the Providence Journal reported that the relationship between Uber and city officials had become tense, with officials asking in emails for better communication from Uber and issues of vandalism and theft becoming increasingly problematic.
“We hired security firms because our e-bike technology was being vandalised and misused in Providence, and we did not want to send our technicians into the field without proper security given the illegal activity taking place,” the Uber spokesperson told Business Insider.
Uber offloaded its electric bike and scooter business to Lime last month as part of a $US170 million funding round, CNBC reported. The deal came just days after Uber laid off 3,700 employees, nearly 14% of its global workforce, as the coronavirus ravages ride-hailing revenue.
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