Tuesday, September 27, 2005

For those riding in NYC September Critical Mass...

The NYC critical mass is this Friday, 9.30.05. There is large encouragement to use the 4 meeting spots. Choose your own adventure. Goto: Washington Square Park, Tompkins Sqaure Park, Union Square Park (Both North and South Sides) and Madison Park (23rd and Broadway) 7:00pm

Here is a little speech on the importance of these spots:

"Last month the NYPD, after what appeared to be a backing off period,
resumed their strategy of attacking Critical Mass with overwhelming
force, right at the start of the ride. This is what they were doing
for the 9 or so months since the RNC ride: the ride leaves the park
and they pounce, throwing up nets, cornering riders, stealing bikes...
you know the drill. In response to this (because we were tired of
being such obvious and easy targets) people started to meet up in
various locations other than Union Square. This took some effort and
some coordination, but it did seem to have an effect. It certainly
made it more difficult for the cops to police the ride. Whether it
was this or some other reasons, the NYPD did back off the ride,
considerably. So much so that Union Square once again seemed safe,
and the multiple meetup strategy was sort of abandoned (not entirely,
but mostly). And now they are hammering at the ride again, pouncing
on Union Square riders almost as soon as they leave the park.

So we are revitalizing the decentralizing. Putting the kink back in
the hose, or something like that. This month there will be people
starting out from Madison Sq. Park, Tompkins Sq. Park, Washington Sq.
Park, and Union Square. You and your friends can also start from
wherever the fuck you please of course, but there will for sure be
folks at those locations, and, at least in those locations there will
be folks in constant communication with riders from all the other
start-ups. Then we get to play a game of "find your friends" in the
streets of Manhattan. It's fun, actually, and even if you never find
the other rides, you are likely to have a less cop-heavy ride, and
there is the added bonus of just making all of this more of a pain in
the ass for the assholes.

So, that's the announcement: show up somewhere ELSE at 7:00pm, and be
prepared to RIDE.

The other part of this, is that the community of riders who take part
in CM need to have a way to discuss tactics, and to inform new riders
about some of what CM riders have figured out thus far after years of
doing it, things such as:

** If there's, like, two cars up at the front and we have 500 riders
behind them: Let the fucking cars go. Blocking them in the middle of
the street blocks OTHER RIDERS. It's stupid.

**SLOW THE FUCK DOWN. If you find yourself in the front of the ride,
don't get so excited (and yes, it is exciting, we know, and we all
adore you for your exuberance, but shit...) that you ditch the slower
riders. Yes you are an individual, but CM is at heart a collective
experience. You are a part of a larger body, and ripping the head
from the torso is painful, and leaves both body parts vulnerable.

**Just cause you're at the front doesn't mean that you ought to be
"leading" the ride. And, inversely, just cause some jackass is at the
front doesn't mean you all have to follow them. Check them out. Slow
down and make some smart decisions

** If you see an undercover, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. OUT them. This
means yelliing to the other riders. This means riding right alongside
them and eavesdropping. It does not mean whispering the information
to the 4 or 5 riders in your immediate vicinity.


We would like to continue a discussion about Critical Mass and ride tactics so feel free to post comments here on this blog.

See you in the streets Friday.


Anonymous bike ninja said...

i wanted to make a comment about the police presence on the ride....specifically the undercovers.

It was real easy to escape arrest when the cops were in uniform, standing there on the corner with orange netting & mouths gaping wide as the mass cruised by...2 steps ahead.

We were 2 steps ahead because they were concentrating their efforts on stopping us from leaving Union Square and using undercovers to follow from behind. However, in the last few months their strategy has changed. The uniformed cops no longer surround us in mass---possibly to deflect any criticism of their waste of public funds, possibly in order to not to scare away the summer tourists. But whatever the reason the cops have changed their tactics. And so should we…..

I think it is obvious what their new strategy is: Squads of scooter cops are placed about the city, near areas the mass typically travels through, and they are mobilized when called into action.

So how do they know where the mass is? Well, my guess would be the undercover cops on the ride are reporting back our position.

Let me tell you a story about my experience last month: I was in a group that started with about 20 people in the LES. It grew and grew until it was about 200 people strong uptown. A fellow rider informed me that there was 2 possible undercovers on rollerblades near the front of the ride and another large fellow in a Hawaiian print shirt. I went to go check out the guy in the print shirt while she went to go warn the front.

It took me about 2 seconds to spot the guy in the print shirt and about another half a second to confirm the fact that he was an undercover cop. He was talking into his collar about every 10 seconds, pretty much everytime we crossed a street. Our beautiful peaceful ride was being prepped for an attack.

So the question is, what do you do when you find/suspect an undercover?

I decided to play babysitter. I rolled up right next to the guy and became his sidekick shadow. I am happy to report that he didn’t make a move for his mic/radio for another 15 minutes. He stopped reporting our every move. (And we might have been able to escape from arrest if we hadn’t of gone right through Times Square to Madison Square Garden where they had set up a giant trap.) (a funny side note: when we passed the first squad car on the side of the street about a block before we hit the scooters, the undercover did these wild hand signs to the car. The 2 rollerbladers were also seen doing some wild handsigns to a beatcop. Apparently they have developed some sign language. Something to look out for.)

Anyways, I think it is really important that we out the undercovers. They shouldn’t be able to ride with us. Call them out and make them get to the back. Right now, when we ignore them we do nothing but make their job of arresting bikers easier.

If you see an undercover, announce it to everyone around you. Ride right next to them and let them know they won’t be reporting any info back. Heckle them until they leave. And if you hear someone yell undercover, go get their back!

9:48 AM  
Anonymous bike smart said...

more strategy-

it's not about that one car or even suv. i'd like to encourage everyone to maintain a broader perspective and avoid intentionally blocking a few cars for blocks on end. And don't fuck with public transportation.

10:59 PM  
Blogger neohxc said...

i think there need to be more than 4. and itd be nice if we made a bigger statement about the environment! for the love of doughnuts our Time is up! lets speak up!

2:20 AM  
Anonymous drewo said...

If you can identify the undercover cops (they probably are still carrying a gun and other equipment - so they need bulky shirts/jackets to cover those items) in addition to "shadowing" them, you can slow their progress. A bike-racing technique, if you feel comfortable, is to physicially block the cops progress by riding slow directly in front of them and/or subtly "cutting them off", forcing them to brake and move to one side -- meanwhile the rest of the pack moves further ahead. You can do this without it being too apparent - 2 cyclists "squeezing" one cop cyclist like this can do the job.

Also in the August ride, there were 2 black cop SUV's that rode with the pack right from the start. They seemed to be occupied by NYPD brass. A select group of cyclists can also slow down these cop cars by riding slowly in front of them, literally slowing their progress, while the main pack opens up a gap.

You just know these cops (whether on bike or car) cannot ride with the skills of a CM rider.

2:04 PM  

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