Tuesday, August 23, 2005

August Critical Mass: Aliens vs Robots

Last year we witnessed the first major coordinated attack on critical mass in NYC. It just so happened to fall on the weekend before the Republican National Convention was held here in town. We soon began to learn that this was going to be the norm on political activity during the convention and throughout President Bush's "your either with us or with the terrorists" administration. This is a policy wide top-down campaign of harassment on anyone who is not with the program. Why critical mass? Critical mass is a coordinated action, a mass gathering of people to lawfully ride their bikes in the city streets. This is the type of thing the Bush administration can not handle, doesn't want to exist. This is basically part of the criminalization of dissent in America. The harassment campaign applies to everyone...Time's Reporters, Weapons inspectors, CIA operatives, journalists, PBS news hosts etc. Anyone who questions the Bush's agenda is subject to harassment. I am not trying to blow things out of proportion, they are blown enough but rather to state that what is happening to critical mass is more than just an isolated incident contingent on one police department's agenda.

How we can succeed? By continuing to do what we have always been doing...riding our bikes. Its no more of a political statement then that. We have the right to do so, we are winning in the court system which proves that what we are doing is not illegal and should not warrant the violent attack and campaign of harassment by the top brass of the NYPD. When we ride our bikes, the majority of the pedestrians on the street are cheering and waving at the bikers. They are also vocally appalled when they see swarms of cops on scooters violently arresting people for riding their bikes. In other words, the people are on our side.

I really want to encourage as many people to continue to come to critical mass each month and most importantly to the one year anniversary of the RNC ride this August 26th. By not riding your bike at the mass...the police and the harassment campaign wins.

The idea was brought forward to have a theme of aliens vs robots, a simple way for people to dress up and to put a light hearted theme towards the ride. Many NYC critical masses in the past had theme rides and they made things more fun and much more festive.

Making a costume is easy. Wrap some colored paper around your bike helmet and you are an alien. Tape some bike lights to your helmet and you are a robot. We need to make this ride as festive as ever.

There is still a speak out at the South Side of Union Square park around 6:00pm It looks like Council member Bill Perkins will be speaking.

There are also multiple meeting spots, same as before: Madison Park, (23rd and Broadway) Washington Square Park, Tompkins Square Park and Union Square Park.

There is also 2 after parties to go to:

There will be bands and safe haven for free at the Saint Marks Church on 2nd Ave and 9th St. This is the same church that harbored people for the RNC. The ride will most likely end up here. THIS TIME GO INSIDE THE CHURCH, You do not need a bike lock, there will be reliable volunteers acting as bike valet parking attendants. The Saint Marks Church has a big outdoor space for people to hang out safely without NYPD harassment. Remember last year a lot of people got arrested on 2nd Ave because they were hanging out in the streets.

There is a fund raiser for the Mass defense comitee of the New York Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild. This is in coordination with the Bicycle Film Festival and rooftopfilms. This party is $10.00 and the money goes to help people arrested at critical mass to be able to have money to fight the charges. The fundraiser is in the North Side of Williamsburg across from McCarren Park at the Automotive High School. Live music at 8:30, Films begin at 9:00pm and there will be a Q & A from the film makers afterwards. The videos they will be showing are all bike related: Still we Ride, ( a documentary about the ongoing harrassment of critcal mass) Warriors ( a half hour documentary about a bike ride that took place 2 years ago based on the NYC cult classic the warriors) Bomb the Bay with Ted Shred ( a short video about Ted Shred the former skater and Mass up DJ who rides a freewheel with no brakes down the hills of San Francisco) and Fast and Reliable ( a short about Dexter the amazing one legged bike messenger)

Many of the Bike National Convention activities that have been going on this week have had a large presense of police so there is reason to believe it will be a huge presence during the August Critical Mass, be aware. Be alert, do not let scooter cops get close to you. The police will make arrests weather we stop at red lights or not. They generally try and pick off smaller groups from the back, so stay tight and keep the ride close together.

These are merely words of caution. The important thing to do is not to strategize what the cops are planning but rather to go on the ride and have a good time.

See you on the ride.


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