San Francisco held its inaugural car-free “Sunday Streets” event last weekend. New Yorker Jen Petersen was there and files this report.
Whatever the weather, San Franciscoâ€™s Fishermanâ€™s Wharf doesnâ€™t suffer from a shortage of dollar-shelling, strolling tourists on weekends, and so clearing street space for more people-powered mobility on a sunny morning had instant takers. As was the case at New Yorkâ€™s Summer Streets, more than a few participants simply stumbled upon the event. And since Civic Center and Fort Mason was hosting the U.S.â€™s first Slow Food Nation, a foodie-drawing tribute to regional, small-scale food producers, there was an even greater influx of slow and deliberate pilgrims on this particular weekend. There wasnâ€™t a chance that the northern part of the route would go un-used, though I wondered how many San Franciscans actually ventured that way. But save for the artisan street vendors set up as usual at Market Street and Embarcadero, the weekend-shuttered financial district was still a tourist no-go zone.
South of the Ferry Terminal Building (itself a regional foods marketplace), however, cyclists, walkers, rollerbladers, and runners transitioned to the physical activity-promoting leg of the route. And so rounding the bayâ€™s curve to South Beach, where the SF Giantsâ€™ AT&T Park was open for base running, and the China Basin inlet, where Cheryl Burke Dance Studio offered Tribal Belly, Afro-Colombian, Salsa, and East Coast swing dance classes all morning, the re-appropriative potential of the street came to life. I maintain: there is no higher social use of street space than dancing!
Speaking of San Francisco. Chris Carlsson, one of the original riders of Critical Mass, author and world traveler will be the keynote speaker at this years Conflux festival. Sept 11th-thru the 14th. in NYC.
Conflux Festival is the art and technology festival for the creative exploration of urban public space.
September 9th, 2008 | Category: General | Comments are closed
September 9th, 2008 | Category: General | Comments are closed
If you have enjoyed the last 8 years: the failed economy, the highest unemployment rate since 2003, invading a country based on false information, the erosion of our civil liberties, then be my guest and vote for these two.
You deserve another 4 years of the same crap.
One of the most frightening indications of the direction our country has taken isn’t thousands of miles away in some strange country we have occupied or are about too. Its right here in the USA and it was on display in the actions of thousands of police unleashed to handle demonstrations at this years Republican National Convention in Minneapolis. Maybe we can expect journalists to be jailed and beaten in Iraq. Maybe we can read about prisoners being tortured with black hoods over their heads in Abu Ghraib. Perhabs we can know about citizens being accused of terrorist acts for helping to plan protests in Fallujah. But all of this occurred and was documented outside the Xcel center where the Republicans announced their acceptance to the general election. It is the new face of homeland security in the privatized era of neo-conservative ideals. While Sarah Palin was busy bad mouthing community service, the police were doing a disservice to the community by indiscriminately using tear gas, rubber bullets, concusion grenades and mace on a few protesters with different political ideologies and wearing black bandannas. Knocking down newspaper boxes and blocking traffic is called: civil disobedience and should be dealt with by a procedural non-violent arrests. Instead it was brutal oppression by a militarized police force who think they are fighting insurgents in Afghanistan. An abusive display of violence which harmed innocent bystanders, accredited journalists and anyone who got in the way of a law enforcement and national guard rampage gone wild.
Now why did bikeblog report so much on these conventions when this is supposed to be a blog dedicated to the bicycle? Well, I’d love to report on warm and fuzzy stories like bike sharing programs at these gatherings…but it just doesn’t seem important when my fellow citizens and friends are being abused, chased, attacked, beaten and arrested. Sorry, I just can’t be silent. And besides I like to follow up on things.
So here is a wrap up report from I-witness video. A dedicated group of citizens, armed with video cameras who go to demonstrations to document police activity.
Here is an overview of what the members of I-Witness Video saw and experienced over the past week or so in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Regards, Eileen Clancy
for the I-Witness Video Collective
Violence and cruel treatment directed at protesters by police; Journalists targeted for arrest, harassment, intimidation and surveillance
Police Violence in the Streets
The members of I-Witness Video have been appalled to see a high level of violence directed against peaceful demonstrators, medics, legal observers and journalists at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Concussion grenades, smoke bombs, CS gas (tear gas), rubber bullets and pepper spray were used to attack and herd demonstrators.
In particular, pepper spray was used excessively and indiscriminately to torment and punish demonstrators in a manner that violates widely accepted law enforcement standards. In one instance a man was pepper-sprayed while handcuffed and then punched in the kidneys. Peaceful demonstrators have been restrained and forced to kneel on pavement for hours after being pepper sprayed without being given medical attention. In another instance where pepper spray was used to preemptively punish a person who was perceived by police to be a protester, a lone street medic was entering her car when police drove up, sprayed a small fire extinguisher sized canister of pepper spray into her car, completely soaking her head to toe before driving away, leaving her gasping for air and collapsing. The medic was neither arrested nor charged.
The treatment of arrestees in the jails has been shockingly bad, even grisly. Medical care has been withheld from many arrestees. In one instance a hemophiliac was offered gauze as treatment for a wound. Elliot Hughes, a 19-year old arrested while bicycling, was forced to wear a bag over his head while being gagged and beaten. Hughes tells his story at a press conference: Youtube video
The punishment of arrestees did not end at the jailhouse door. In almost every instance, the Sheriffâ€™s Department did not return any personal belongings to arrestees upon their release. Many, including under-age women and girls, were put out in the cold in the middle of the night wearing thin prison-grade shorts and a white t-shirt. Some were dropped off as far as five miles away from the jail without their house keys, car keys, cell phones, identification, or money. In some instances this meant that they were not able to access critically needed medication.
Targeting of Journalists
Many journalists working during the period of the RNC experienced obstruction, harassment and arrests. Thirty journalists were arrested including reporters from ABC News, Fox News, and Indymedia. On September 1, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, two producers from Democracy Now! were slammed on the pavement and against the wall, arrested and charged with a felony riot. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman was also arrested and charged with interfering with a police officer. On September 4 Kouddous was arrested again, along with Democracy Now! producer Rick Rowley.
Harassment of I-Witness Video
Members of I-Witness Video were visited by the FBI and a Wisconsin sheriff, were falsely arrested without charges being filed, underwent a search under an invalid warrant, were threatened on the street by police officers, extensively surveiled by police officers with video cameras and followed by undercover officers.
Two days before the convention opened, St. Paul police surrounded the house we were staying in, effectively placing us under arrest for two hours. When a search warrant was finally produced, it was for the wrong house.
When we declined to allow them to search our house under an invalid warrant, they broke in and held us at gunpoint. We were handcuffed behind our backs and held in the backyard while the house and our belongings were searched.
During the same period three other member of the collective were detained while leaving the area on bicycles and two others in a car were pulled over and detained for four hours.
An excerpt of a video by the Glass Bead Collective shows the St. Paul police breaking into our house and pointing guns at us: video here.
In a sinister progression of events, police officers arrived at our office building four days later with batons at the ready, carrying a battering ram and alleging that we were holding people hostage in the I-Witness Video office. A prompt response by National Lawyerâ€™s Guild attorneys thwarted further police action. The unfounded and absurd allegation by police that hostages were barricaded in our office could have allowed them to enter our office without a warrant and possibly even shoot us. 5th. Please check our website for updates – we will continue to let you know more about the 2008 RNC and DNC as we investigate further.
But police brutality isn’t limited to just these big demonstrations, they happen all the time including at a concert last Friday, Sept. 5th in NYC.
Buffalo Bill at Moving Target Zine has a description of the Marcus Cook Award. Each year this prized trophy is awarded to an outstanding member of the international messenger community. Its time for the nominations.
Velotopia from my old home town of Seattle Washington. Their editor and chief, David Cole had a great quote: “Bicycling is the source and cure of all of my problems.” (I wish it were that simple)
Here’s what it says about their site: “About Us
We like bikes. We firmly believe that anything with two wheels and pedals will lead you down the road to happiness. This website is about that road.
There’s quite a few different bike subcultures out there: from brakeless fixie kids pedaling in skin-tight denim to hairless racer dudes drafting in skin-tight lycra and we tend to like them all. We like organized rides with bountiful food stops and numbers pinned to our jerseys just about as much as we like to get surly and take over the streets on the last Friday of the month. We like pump tracks, dirt parks, Sunday rides, midnight races, velodromes, single track, watching the tour, touring the countryside, climbing hills, Thursday crits, truing our wheels, anything to do with bikes we like. And that’s what this website is about: Bikes!”
Its hard to believe but somehow Christopher Long did not cause assault to rookie officer, Patrick Pogan’s forearms in the July Critical Mass bike ride.
His charges of assault were miraculously dropped today in court, thanks to the power of video. Over a million views make it painfully clear that this officer of the law was egregiously acting like a some sort of…member of the NYPD.
He can have some time at his desk to think about his actions and not out on the street keeping us safe from the threat of people riding their bikes in groups.
NYPD Tries to Shush Donut Social Protest in East Village Those self-described downtown “slacktivists” who previously called for yuppie scum to die at the Bowery Wine Company are focusing their contempt on the NYPD. They’re planning a punk concert and protest Friday night against “police brutality, real estate developers, and the blatant selectively targeted harassment/discrimination toward our scene during the 20th Anniversary of the Tompkins Square Park Police Riots concert/political rally.” The so-called “Donut Social” was originally planned for directly outside the 9th precinct on East 5th Street, but the NYPD wasn’t so into that, so the rabble have been relocated to the corner of First Ave and 5th. The other hitch is that police are insisting on a 70 decibel sound level at 100 feet with the permit. According to NMNL, that’s about the same level as the sound of a vacuum cleaner at 10 feet.
Come hear punk show…Death Mold and the Crack Steady Five
Prosecutors are expected to drop criminal charges on Friday against a bicyclist who was pushed off his bike in July by a police officer in Times Square, said Mark M. Taylor, a lawyer for the bicyclist. The encounter was captured on amateur video.
The bicyclist, Christopher Long, 29, was charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct on July 25 during a monthly ride called Critical Mass. The arresting officer, Patrick Pogan, wrote in his report that Mr. Long had been weaving in and out of traffic and that he had tried to hit the officer with his bicycle.
But video recorded by an onlooker soon surfaced on YouTube, showing Officer Pogan lowering his shoulder and shoving Mr. Long off his bike on Seventh Avenue at 46th Street as Mr. Long tried to steer out of the way.
On Thursday, prosecutors declined to comment on their case against Mr. Long and would neither confirm nor deny that they planned to drop the charges.
After the video surfaced, Officer Pogan was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on desk duty, pending a department investigation. Mr. Taylor said his client planned to sue the city.
Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer who has represented several Critical Mass participants, said that dropping the charges against Mr. Long would be the right thing to do, and that he hoped the prosecutors would go one step further.
â€œI think they should give serious consideration to bringing perjury and assault charges against the cop,â€ Mr. Siegel said. â€œThis is the way to get accountability over the police and reduce police misconduct. If you make this officer an example, then the message is: This kind of conduct is unacceptable and there will be legal consequences for it.â€
Tensions have long existed between Critical Mass riders and the police, who complain that the riders ignore traffic laws.
Shortly before the Republican National Convention in 2004, a large number of officers arrested more than 250 riders on charges that included parading without a permit. In 2006, a state judge turned down a request by the city to forbid Timeâ€™s Up, an environmental group that promotes the monthly rides, to take part in them, to gather at Union Square Park beforehand and to mention the rides on its Web site.
September 5th, 2008 | Category: General | Comments are closed
Christopher Long’s will be in court tomorrow (Friday) at 9:30am for his crime of being knocked off his bicycle by a police officer during the July August Critical Mass.
If you can, please come to support Christopher!!
100 Center Street, Part B Manattan
Two articles about last months Critical Mass ride in NYC-
From the Downtown Express
Mass bike riders convene on convention anniversary
bike lift in Times Square-photo by Jefferson Siegel By Jefferson Siegel
Last Friday was a night of milestones for the monthly Critical Mass ride. It was the fourth anniversary of the 2004 Republican National Convention ride that saw 264 cyclists arrested. It was the first ride since cyclist Christopher Long was knocked off his bike by a police officer last month. It was the last ride of summer and was bookmarked between this yearâ€™s Democratic and Republican conventions.