I have been away, but from all accounts I got so far from people on the February NYC critical mass, things were calmer. 300 people showed up to ride after the recent court ruling with no idea how the cops would react. Many people felt the NYPD will act on their own and pay little attention to the courts. The are still under the opinion that critical mass is dangerous even though it is the cops crashing into each other and driving vehicles on the sidewalk. Every time the police have cried the offenses of the riders, we prove them wrong. When they say we block emergency vehicles, we easily pull over and let the EMT’s drive their ambulances through us and pull over at Starbucks. When the cops say we block traffic, we stop at red lights, and then they arrest us. And now we have it on video, how it is them who use their vehicles to cause violence.
Sounds like the police laid low and didn’t make arrests. Instead they resorted to what many other cities do, ticketing people from traffic violations. At least it is a step in a less annyoing direction.
Here is one report and opinion from a rider from NYC indymedia:
“Critical Mass Checkmate
Possible plan for ending NYPD harassment of Critical Mass
The NYPD have changed tactics, apparently in response to our recent court victory, instead of chase and attack, last night they stalked and intimidated. Pouncing on anyone running a light, blocking traffic, etc. Using dozens of vans, squad cars, scooters, helicopter, etc., their expensive show of force was a poor return on investment of tax dollars.
With this new tactic of behaving legally (except most notably for Chief Bruce Smolka, happily caught on tape last night) we should respond in kind. Let’s wait to leave Union Square with a green light, tightly bunched, stop at every red light, moving at a VERY leisurely pace (think Critical Mass Party Crawl with stilt walkers and boom boxes) and slowly spread out to have a “safety zone” of five or ten feet around each bicycle. It then becomes a game of Tetris, and most likely total gridlock. The NYPD will respond by driving a wedge of vehicles through the middle of us, to force us to the sides and free up traffic. We’ll SLOWLY turn, waiting for everyone to catch up. The NYPD will start creating gridlock themselves as they try to block or out maneuver us. Eventually we end up at a nice party somewhere and NYPD chalks up some overtime pay and wonders why they still don’t have a contract with the city. The citizens, miss their dinner appointments, Broadway plays, etc. and start complaining. Rinse and repeat every month, its getting warmer and we should get a typical many hundreds of bicycles as we go forward.
We’re increasing the number of video and legal observers (thanks guys!) and by spreading them out, we’ll continue winning court cases. Especially if the NYPD gets frustrated and starts aggressively breaking the law again.
When the NYPD stops harassing us, we can go back to being a safe, fast moving blip through town (like every other major civilized city) and won’t have to be an ever more expensive blood clot. I personally long for the rides after 9/11 when NY’s finest were our allies, not our adversaries.”
Roger..writes about his experience…He says there were 100 people on the ride…
Around 100 cyclists turned out at Union Square despite chilly weather. The group stayed largely together down Broadway to Canal and over to and up 6th Ave. Various riders got split off due confusion over the issue of what to do at red lights. A caravan of cop vans came west across Prince street and met the ride at 6th ave which then split in half – some going west and uptown, and others continuing up 6th ave and breaking into smaller groups. The larger group was attacked by the cop caravan on 8th ave at 29th street where several riders were detained, ticketed for various bogus violations and released. Straglers were also ticketed towards the beginning of the evening on Broadway around the Soho area.
At some point two people were arrested, taken to the 1st precinct , ticketed and released.
This new scaling back on police tactics (ticketing instead of generally arresting) comes after a NY State court ruling against the cops ongoing illegal efforts aimed at suppressing and eliminating Critical Mass rides in NYC. This ongoing criminal intimidation and harassment of some of NYC’s finest citizens is a shame, a waste of resources and an embarrassment to our city. There was a terrific after-party to celebrate the recent court victory and life in general.
By roger m