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May 08, 2005

1st CM Google Alert Disappointing

After this past week I was seriously hoping that the 1st Google Alert that arrived for the search term "Critical Mass" turned up something other than what I expected.

It did not.

And, no, I'm not a happy camper.

I truly want to report positive stories to contrast with the negative.

So let's get to it...

1. A venerable [ politics aside, it's over 70 yrs. old so I'll show some respect :-D ] NY Weekly, The Villager, this week shares a picture of a NY Times reporter being arrested, with its story of a recent CM Ride:

The monthly Critical Mass started out differently than usual last Friday night. There was a rally for cyclists’ civil rights, followed by a blessing of arrested cyclists. And instead of one big departure from Union Sq., the riders left from four different sites. But the city’s response didn’t change: Police showed no signs of backing down from their hard-line stance, making 34 arrests...

Before the ride, a “Still We Speak” rally was held in Union Sq. in response to the city’s recent court action to try to bar four members of the Time’s Up! group from publicizing Critical Mass.

“We submit bike riding without a permit is not unlawful,” said civil rights attorney Norman Siegel at the rally.

Siegel said they plan to file a counterclaim in state court next month against the city’s lawsuit against the bicyclists. The city is arguing that Critical Mass needs to get a permit to ride and a permit to gather in the park. Siegel said they’ll continue to hold rallies before the monthly rides.

“We have to say, ‘No way. We have a right to be here. We have the right to speak,’ ” he said. “Critical Mass will not stop.”

The piece, by Lincoln Anderson, does a fine job of showing how organizers co-ordinated their ride ( using cell phones, and txt. msg. to keep track of each other, and the cops ), and mentions the Constitution, and the right to ride bikes, in the same paragraph.

It also mentions, favorably, how the cops, and CM, seem to be co-existing, harmoniously, in San Francisco, and Paris, while painting New Yorks' Finest in a bad light for their behavior, and planning, for controlling this event.

There is no mention of any wrong doing by cyclists ( 1 cyclist brags about taunting the cops ) that led to the 34 arrests that were made.

Admittedly, though, it's amusing to contemplate a bunch of riders traving down the street chanting to the well-heeled about the need to Stop Shopping, Stop Eating, and Start Biking.

Critical Mass tries new tactics, but not the police.

2. Newsday has a little different, less detailed, take on reporting the same story.

A total of 34 people were arrested at Friday night's Critical Mass ride, the 12th anniversary of the movement, police said.

The 20 men and 14 women arrested were issued desk appearance tickets, police said.

Over 400 riders participated in the largest ride of the year, and its interesting how the reporter, Lindsay Faber, writes that the events have been incident free despite frequent arrests.

Will someone explain to me how an arrest, much less 34, or 100, doesn't equal an "incident"?

...organizers of the event have wrangled with the Police Department, whose position is that the riders regularly violate traffic laws and parade without permit.

It is lamentable that the Federal Courts, in NY, say no permit is needed.

I assume the reason partly has to do with the fact that the events are, um, un-organized. :-D

On Friday night, communicating via cell phone, the riders kicked off the event from various spots in Manhattan, including Union Square, Madison Square and Tompkins Square Park, possibly in an attempt to evade police. In the past, the riders set out together from Union Square.


How about ... You bet bet yer sweet bippy, honey! :-D

34 arrested in Critical Mass Bike Ride.

3. The Web Channel, NY1, gives an even briefer report, but adds the following:

Police say 34 people were arrested for disorderly conduct and other charges at Friday night's Critical Mass bike ride.

The report says the cops cite public safety concerns, and select protestors claim everything is peaceful, and meant to promote alternative modes of transportation.

"I've been doing this for about a year now and last year at this point it was the most peaceful thing I've ever been a part of. I mean, there was maybe about 600 of us in April last year. We rode out, it was a great night. And it's just about fun and having, you know, an activity that you can do outside," said one Critical Mass rider. "Now it's kind of gotten a little bit more depressing with the police clamping down on everybody."

Awww... how sweet, and charming.

Too bad the cops want to keep law, and order, and make sure riders, or bystanders, don't get hurt.

Before this latest ride, the Police Department released a statement saying: "As we have in the past, we will arrest people who are violating the law and endangering the safety of the public."

More arrests made at monthly Critical Mass Ride.

None of these stories gives any details about any signs carried by riders that might be non-cycling related, non-cycling related slogans that might have been chanted, or what non-cycling affiliated causes had supporters participating.

To get a clue one had to have read a certain press release, and visit  a couple of websites.

The sites probably will be updated for the next event, but, for now the April info is still available to read.

From the NYC Indymedia.org website on April 29th:

"Calling all RNC and Critical Mass arrestees to come to Still We Speak Rally Tonight, Friday 4/29/05 at Union Square South to protest NYC's crackdown on our first amendment right to speak and peacefully assemble.

"The permitted rally will be from 5:30pm - 7:30 pm. At some point between 6:30pm and 7:00pm, we would love to have all the people who have been arrested at the RNC last August and/or on any of the Critical Mass bicycle rides to come up to the stage to show the impact of the City's crackdown on dissent."

Even granting the possibility that the CM arrestees were all peddling pedaling, it's a certainty that many of the RNC ones were not.

The poster shown highlights the poor, put upon, cyclists, but not everyone at this event even cared about cycling.

But, it's "come on down, we'd love to have ya!" so the "good Rev can bless you, and we can show solidarity."

The Invite.

The Still We Speak website:

Speakers/ Performers:

1st let's give up a hearty amen for the Reverend Billy and The Church of Stop Shopping Choir:

LET US PRAY. We ask the God-That-Is-Not-A-Product. We ask the Goddess-Who-Swims-In-The-Part-Of-The-Sky-Not- Yet-Slapped-With-Plastic-Logos -- is it possible that The End of the World has come and gone unnoticed? We are feeling strange. It is the Time of Dullness. Give us a sign. Amen."


And the NY Civil Liberties Union, the Center for Constitutional Rights ( we believe high ranking US Officials support torture! ), and the Greens, want to share the stage with this guy?

Sounds like he makes the Reverend Al Sharpton look like a Flaming Conservative. :-D

Now for the musical interlude...

The Rude Mechanical Orchestra is a New York City-based radical marching band that infuses political action with celebratory energy and music. We formed before the April 2004 Women's March in Washington D.C. and subsequently focused our organizing energies on the 2004 Republican National Convention.

The one CM rider supports ending the Drug War.

The Volunteer Advocacy group for CM Arrestees, Freewheels, wants to join forces with RNC Arrestees.


The flyers speak for themselves, as does the fact that Still We Speak is willing to spread them around but not willing to take responsibility for their content.

Now, dear reader, it seems to this college edumicated individual that if you allow the name of your organization to be used on posters, especially ones with lengthy amounts of rousing text in it, then you are showing you support the statements made, and should accept your share of the responsibility in spreading those flyers around town.

But that's just me...

Oh, and in case you forgot, CM is un-organzied, and leaderless. :-D

Want prooof of that?

Then check out the NY Critical Mass BIKEBOG I just discovered.

Fascinating stuff. :-D

May 8, 2005 in Critical Mass | Permalink


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You say, "Oh, and in case you forgot, CM is un-organzied, and leaderless. :-D Want prooof of that? Then check out the NY Critical Mass BIKEBOG I just discovered."

I don't join a Critial Mass ride because a blog or Times Up, or anyone else publicizes it. No one does. If Times Up, BikeBlog and your so called "leaders" all took a monthlong vacation and neglected to publicize and show up at Critical Mass, nothing would change. Depending on the month, a few hundred or thousand bicyclists would still show up. A two hour ride would still take place. Critical Mass would still be Critical Mass.

I don't deny that there are a number of "usual suspects" who are often at the front of the pack. But after reading your web page, it seems that you fail to grasp that these people are easily replaceable. Someone has to be at the front to make the choice to turn left or right. Anyone at Critical Mass can do that. But since someone in the end has to make that decision, then of course there is a leader at that point in time. But that person is self-appointed, and and by definition, anyone can self-appoint themself.

Critical Mass exists in the collective knowledge of thousands of people. We all know when and where to meet. Perhaps Times Up happens to list that same information, but the primary location it is stored in is in all of our minds.

Posted by: O B | May 18, 2005 9:24:48 AM

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