One Man's Perspective
"I decided to do the Critical Mass bike ride again, (after a few months off, for good behavior). It was sad to see how few people showed up for the ride. Usually the whole back part of Union Square is filled with chatty cyclists of all shapes and sizes. This time, there were about 150 people, milling around the steps on 14th St. After some speeches and stuff, The ride started going west on 14St.... but right from the beginning, I watched several groups get separated and we ended up losing all momentum, we weren't traffic, we were stuck in traffic. within a block from the start, I was in a cluster of people that got totally fucked over by the police. We were out numbered and squashed in and by 7th Ave., even though we were following the traffic laws, (we stopped for the lights at 6th & 7th!!!!???????!!!!???), they brought the scooters around and they just started arresting people. Having been through enough rides, I was still blown away by this. No provocation, no time to pedal, no nothing. I was even talking to one of the scooter cops, moments before, commenting on what a small turn out, that they out number us and how bizarre it is that we're stopping at the lights, I've seen and talked to these guys for years now. As he's saying to me, "if you people followed the laws like this, we wouldn't be bothering you", up ahead of us, a 1/4 of a block, in stopped traffic, they just moved in on us. I had brought a friend along, who was new to Critical Mass, and of course, some white shirt fancy cop brass is trying to get us to walk over to him to be arrested. I'm screaming at my friend to turn around and go the other way, my friend's pissed off that we're walking the bikes on the sidewalk and not riding, oblivious that people are being arrested right in front of him, and I have a camera in my hand, torn between trying to shoot what's going on, and getting the fuck away from the cops ourselves. I'm glad my friend followed me, because the kids in front of us all got arrested. We get on 7th Ave, and I'm trying to have a conversation with a "community liaison" officer, asking why they would pull shit when nothing was happening illegally... ha ha ha....She didn't know enough toooooo....... By the time we recouped, we lost any trail of bikes and although I saw many flashing police lights on 8th Ave. We ended up on the west side bike lane, and took a ride up to 125 St. We ran into some other people who lost the ride too. We talked of wishes and possibilities of a Central Park ride, for Halloween, where it would be an enjoyable party ride and gathering and we don't have to play fucking cat and mouse with military battalions, who are coordinating our movements with helicopters and command centers and staging areas for their other resources of thuggery. There has to be a way of connecting back to the spirit of what this ride has been for years. They're playing real dirty. I believe whole heartedly in the beliefs of what this ride means. A new approach is starting the ride from several places, like Washington & Tompkin Square parks, aside from the main place, Union Square, but I don't see having small groups of people starting in different places, and worming around town until they're found out, having an impact on the city. All that means is that the police are able to quarter the group they target and take people with more ease. The conversation of having several groups winding through the city, with the hope of meeting up at some point, loses the focus of what a "critical mass", is. There is more safety and power in the mass. That was the beauty of this thing. Although, watching a dozen people on bikes, being chased down by several unmarked cars, a dozen scooters, multiple "emergency vehicles" and a fucking helicopter, is some sort of testament to the stupidity of the powers that be. But how many regular folks does this actually have an impact on. Except to wonder, boy those tattered kids on their bikes, must've done something really bad to warrant that.
A cold wind did blow last night."