Bike riders demand justice from Bloomberg
NEW YORK - On August 25, 2005 at 1:00 PM at Collect Pond Park across from the New York City Criminal Courthouse at 100 Centre Street, FreeWheels will hold a press conference to send a personal plea to Mayor Bloomberg and kick off a local lobbying campaign geared toward ending the current crackdown on Critical Mass bicycle rides in New York City. FreeWheels is a non-profit all volunteer organization that provides support by and for people who have been arrested at Critical Mass.
For over 12 years, the NYPD facilitated Manhattan Critical Mass rides, no problem. On August 27, 2004, the City kicked off a year-long campaign of persecuting cyclists. Since then more than 500 people have been arrested and prosecuted. 33 people were arrested last month alone, many without warning while stopped at red lights.
Cyclists around the world have seen video of the arrests at Critical Mass and reacted with outrage. As a result, the World Car Free Network is kicking off an international letter-writing campaign to demand an immediate end to the crackdown.
At the press conference, FreeWheels members who have been arrested over the course of the past year will explain what led up to their arrests and why so many are still fighting the criminal charges against them months later.
FreeWheels is kicking off its own letter-writing campaign encouraging New Yorkers to contact their City Council members and demand immediate public hearings into the reasonableness of the City's reaction to Critical Mass rides over the past year - and its price tag. According to Dave Rankin, a FreeWheels member, "The rest of the world cares about New York City's cyclists - why doesn't our City government?"
Because FreeWheels believes the Mayor needs to personally see how the NYPD has been policing these peaceful bicycle rides, FreeWheels invites members of the press to accompany them immediately following the conference as they bring the Mayor a personal invitation to participate in and observe Friday night's Critical Mass bicycle ride, along with a ticket to ride in a donated rickshaw and a copy of Still We Ride: The Movie, a new documentary about the City's year-long crackdown. FreeWheels hopes that the Mayor will watch the documentary and come on Friday's ride to see for himself how the NYPD - and the cyclists - behave on the one-year anniversary of the 264-person mass arrest in 2004.
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FreeWheels (www.bicycledefensefund.org) is a volunteer-run, non-profit advocacy group started by bicyclists who have ridden in and been arrested at Critical Mass. We are dedicated to providing the resources necessary to fight New York City's attack on the civil rights of bicyclists and assisting those arrested, ticketed, or harassed for bicycling. We raise money for arrestees' legal expenses, and provide arrestees with resources, information and support in defending their Constitutional Rights.
FreeWheels believes the NYPD's crackdown on the Critical Mass ride is an assault not only on the rights of bicyclists, but on the Constitution itself.
FreeWheels is not financially associated with Critical Mass. Nor are we spokespeople for Critical Mass, which is a leaderless gathering of bicyclists to ride safely in numbers that takes place in many cities around the world on the last Friday of every month.
Information about the World Car Free Network can be found at www.worldcarfree.net.