Screening of Critical Mass documentary --

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Anonymous's picture

"After a two-year hiatus, I rode in the Halloween Critical Mass last Friday. The costumes were fabulous as usual--weird, freaky, creative, and the bikes (and people) the same. Best show in town.

I also got to see first-hand the arbitrary exercise of police force as has been said to occur. In some intersections, scooter cops would block the street so the cyclists could pass. Then all of a sudden, someone would start yelling at cyclists and everyone scrambled. There was no warning, or reason to predict what they would do. It created panic and chaos.

I had gone only a few blocks before I witnessed an arrest, at 2nd Ave. and 21st St. A woman was at the tail end of a group that had just cleared the intersection, when cops grabbed her bike. She was looking ahead and seemed not to realize what was happening, and pulled back on her bike (""resisting arrest,"" no doubt.) Then a bunch of cops appeared and someone grabbed her. A videographer filming the scene on the corner was violently jostled--it looked like they had thrown him on the ground. Maybe they did, but he was back filming again shortly.

It was a bald display of power. A woman with her young daughter stopped to ask me what was going on. ""They're going to take away all our diversity,"" she said. ""You guys are fun to watch."" I suggested she visit the TA web site and call her city council rep.

Meanwhile, the auto traffic around us was stultifying--even without the presence of bikes and pedestrians--a seething river of metal, a mechanical tsunami.

After watching the scene for 15 minutes, I headed down the 2nd Ave. bike lane, where cars were parked, and taxis drove like they were on the parkway. Around 5th St. I rode alongside a phalanx of 10 scooter cops who were also driving in the bike lane. One cop chatted me up about my bike light--he seemed friendly at first, but turns out to complain about cyclists who don't have lights. I asked him to ticket the cars in the bike lane; no response.

At the intersection of Houston, a cab stopped at the NW corner had its hood propped up and a flame coming out of its engine. Poor cabdriver was frantically warning pedestrians not to walk by--he was worried it would explode. He tried to stop the scooter cops but they made a joke and continued on. I asked if he needed help--his cell phone wasn't working, he said, so I called 911. Two firetrucks were there in three minutes--and the cops returned as well.

So here is the city spending our tax dollars treating people on bicycles like criminals, and working people who clearly need help like scum. I want my money back.

While I'm waiting for my check, I will show the documentary on Critical Mass for a small group of people in the next couple of weeks. It's under 40 minutes. See the facts from the cyclists' perspective and judge for yourself.

Please email me if interested."

Anonymous's picture
Joe (not verified)

I was out last Friday as well. While there were definitely some rowdy cyclists at CM who weren't helping the cause, the vast majority were just out to enjoy the ride. The police action was incredibly disproportionate to the danger presented by cyclists. While they were not making mass arrests as they have in the past, they were giving out tickets to any cyclist within arm's reach, regardless of whether any actual traffic violations had been committed. The police were hell-bent on shattering the ride into pieces from the moment we left Union Square.

Along the lines of what Carol witnessed, check out for some videos from 2006 CM rides - during the August ride, the police are delayed in responding to a hit and run even though dozens of cops are nearby on scooters and motorcycles handing out tickets to cyclists!

I just sent in my totally unwarranted ticket, marked NOT GUILTY.

I'm not going to defend CM as a great cause - I think the public views cyclists less favorably as a result of CM - but they have a right to do what they are doing and the NYPD response has been reprehensible. But the marching orders given to the cops comes from pretty high up. If Bloomberg wanted to stop the crackdown, it would stop.

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