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actions & protests | bikes/transportation | police / legal a22: bush protest

Critical Mass ride - Text and Photos

Critical Mass ride - Text and Photos

After the massive Bush protest and the aggressive police response, many citizens complained of excessive police violence. Mayor Katz hid in her office when people came to express their concerns and frustrations. Now she has given her reply and position regarding these concerns by sending the police to attack the critical mass ride.

Right from the start the police made it clear what their intention was. It was also clear that their actions were mandated from above. What has Mayor Katz said to the citizens? She does not care about peoples welfare or safety. She does not care that police officers are willfully attacking people without cause, even small children. She does not care about justice, honesty or integrity. She knowingly and willfully allows those police officers who are sadistic bullies to abuse and hurt people without reprimand or accountability. She lets these people have free reign, and then defends them.

Mayor Katz is not fit for the office of mayor. She is a disgrace, both as a Mayor, and as a person. She should resign immediately.

The ride left from under the Burnside Bridge, and there were already hundreds of people. From only the second block, the police carried out their plan. This young man did nothing to deserve this physical abuse.

Oh, you mean he might have ridden through a red light? What a horrible crime! Yes, throw him on the hood of the car, twist his unresisting arms behind his back until he is in pain. This is the right way to treat people who offer no resistance, do not raise a fist, nor try to get away and who are guilty of a very minor traffic violation.

Any person they want to arrest, they can just walk up and do so, but the cops just want to knock people down, throw them down, inflict pain by twisting the arms and wrists. They no longer arrest people, they attack them. Though there are some decent people on the police force, I have no respect for the institution, only contempt.

Everyone started chanting "Let them go!, Let them go!" The sound was deafening. There was a primal feeling in the chant that startled the cops.

The irony of the whole thing, the cops, in stopping the mass, giving out dozens of citations, having their cars and motorcycles all over the road, blocked more traffic during the course of the critical mass, than if they just let it happen.

Clearly it is not their intention to assist people in their cars to proceed, because the police cause havoc, and dangerous situations and block the traffic more than the mass ride. I watched the ride, even after the aggressive actions of the police, during the short times it was left alone, stay together, individuals calmly and patiently held up cars on the cross streets while the ride passed, then let the cars proceed. It all works just fine when the cops get out of the way. People can govern themselves just fine.

From there, the ride went on, and up 3rd, going past the people still attending the action to protest protest Bush's war plans against Iraq, which also had a good turnout. The ride turned up Madison before the next incident happened.

Police jump on cyclist who is not resisting arrest

Officers gang up on the man, pulling him down. Another officer tries to block the camera. Police often try to block the view of the camera with their body or hands. Clearly they do not think their actions can stand up to public scrutiny or they would welcome cameras to witness their behavior.

The police continue to assault this person, twisting his arm.

Still twisting the arms. This person did not resist or try to escape. The police could have walked up and simply arrested him like they do on TV, but that is not how it is in the real world. Here the institution of the police feels compelled to violently dominate people. Those officers who have a conscience, need to speak up about this because the police are becoming more violent and militaristic.

I did not see one instance of the police attempting to talk to people, or interact as human beings. There is nothing respectful, or community based in this sort of behavior. They act more like an occupying army, than part of the community.

The mass riders started chanting very loudly, and many people were yelling at the police, telling them to stop hurting people, or to let them go. During the critical mass, it was the police escalating the situation, and apparently looking for conflict.

Still twisting his wrist after he is cuffed

This officer was physically pushing and yelling at this young woman.

At this point there was an incident that was missed by my camera. It was the officer who has his back to the camera, threw a woman (next photo below) to the ground by her face. He told he she got what she deserved. This officer was way out of control and could have hurt her badly. She was not cited or arrested, so obviously she did nothing but piss the guy off. He is the one who should be arrested.

Mr Macho tough guy with his pepper spray, looking for someone to hurt.

The ride resumed, and made it about 8 blocks, before yet another violent incident.

The cops got out their pepper spray.

The fellow in the middle, Barnum, for no apparent reason, pepper sprayed one young man who was standing near him. Sprayed him right in the face.

Then they got out more of their toys. In order to try and stop the critical mass, they were ready to start shooting at people with their rubber bullets. Through all this, the ride kept going, stayed focused and together. All the police action seemed to attract more bicyclists because the mass was still getting bigger. I would estimate the number of people was pushing 7-800 by now.

Carted away upside down.

The mass made its way down to Burnside, where the police kept giving out more citations every few blocks. Still there was alot of good spirit in the ride, with friendliness, and humour mixed with some tension.

In front of Powells this man was pulled over.

Then these two.

The posse, waiting to pounce on more bicyclists.

Here you can look back at all the people. A significant portion of the ride had already passed when this photo was taken. This was the peak point of the ride as far as numbers.

The next incident as the ride neared 21st NW

Another arrest.

No more photos to show as there were only more citations (quite a few of them) given out from there on. The ride stayed together, and meandered down 23rd NW, and then back towards downtown and up Broadway. Whenever there were police at an intersection, the ride stopped at the light, and when there were not, the ride went through. The police repeatedly tried to break the ride up into parts, but everyone did a good job of staying together, and not letting it happen.

One of the best moments of the day came as the ride made its way to the Hawthorne Bridge. About 40 people crossed the last light when a line of motorcycle cops rode across the intersection and forced the ride to turn. The 40 turned back, and zipped down the unfinished onramp, met the rest of the mass, and the ride swung around and took the side entrance ramp up onto the Bridge. The cops were outwitted.

With all their aggressive actions, the cops failed to deter the ride, failed to dampen the spirit of the people and failed to prevent the ride from crossing the Hawthorne Bridge. They undoubtedly spent extra money, blocked lots of traffic, pissed off many people, including bystanders and accomplished nothing.

This was my first critical mass. It would have been wonderful to ride all around Portland, with many hundreds of people, enjoying a beautiful and relaxed afternoon and evening without the police. Even so, I am very glad I went, because Portland activists have sent a message back to Vera: We will not be intimidated and bullied. When Bush comes to town, we will protest his visit and his mad war policies, and once a month, we will have a community bike ride.

what the #@*% is going on? 31.Aug.2002 07:30


Has it become illegal to ride your bike on the street with a group? Are bikes only allowed on certain streets? What would happen if critical mass had a ride where you very carefully followed all the laws, just a test case to see how the cops would act then.

community 31.Aug.2002 08:48


I will be at the next community bike ride

please forward 31.Aug.2002 09:11


I haven't yet made it to a mass ride, but as a photographer I commend you on well documenting everything that occured. someone please forward this story to the local news organizations. In the case of critical mass, I think most are simply unaware that this sort of thing goes on all the time and having these clear photos and narrative would support your case and bring the issue to their attention.

NLG at the Ready... 31.Aug.2002 10:17


I am a National Lawyers Guild member, and am ready to help in another lawsuit against the city on behalf of people arrested or pepper-sprayed by the police.

Alan Graf and myself will be at the meeting to discuss the August 22 police riot at NOON TOMORROW, SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, at 527 SW Hall St., Suite 308. The legal evidence gathering team will be there, and we should be able to schedule gathering of people's statements.

Good thing some of those pictures clearly show individual officers. It would be nice if those pukes get a knock on the door at 6 am from a process server.

some additional thoughts 31.Aug.2002 10:27

PDX Dragon

Finished the article rater late last night and forgot to add a few points -

There were lots of motorists who waved, honked and cheered the Critical Mass ride. So many pedestrians were also supportive of the riders.

There were also lots of angry comments by bystanders, and walkers regarding the police behavior. Citizens of all types who witness it, recognize that something is not right.

It takes a steady awareness not to give in to hating the police. Some of them yesterday were uncomfortable with what happened. However, if those officers do not speak up about the growing paramilitary nature of police forces, they will find themselves doing ever more shameful things. The institution itself is oppressive, and sees itself as being above the law and above citizen accountability.

As an independent street journalist over the past year and half, I have witnessed many examples of police abuse. I have heard many more from friends and aquaintances.

Here are the people supposed to be protecting and serving the broader community, and now it is necessary to always take precautions for ones own safety when they are around.

If someone on the street were to attack me, I can defend myself, but if the police attack, we are all supposed to stand there and take it, and if one simply tries to defend oneself from harm by them, that is jail time. Nothing fair, or democratic about that. Human beings should not have to live with oppressors.

The police have grabbed too much power, and abuse it too regularly.

No excuse 31.Aug.2002 12:40

Hope Marston hmarston@epud.net

This cannot be said enough:

There is no excuse for police to attack citizens who are peacefully dissenting -- with chemical weapons or "non-lethal" weapons like plastic bullets, or any other weapons. They can make arrests without harming individuals. They can respect that the person dissenting has a different point of view. But they have no excuse for hurting citizens who are merely trying to exercise freedom of speech by expressing it publicly.

If we can get others to grasp this simple point, we will stand a better chance enlisting others to support our efforts at speaking out about the injustice we see.

Agree with us -- disagree with us, fine. But don't shoot us. Don't hurt us. That's not right.

Thanks to those who participated in A30 Critical Mass.


PS: Will PDX Dragon please contact me about participating in a citizens' forum Tuesday Sep 3 from 7 to 9 p.m. (Harris Hall 125 E. 8th in Eugene) about A22 and the subject of police brutality? We need to let all police know it's not okay to hurt citizens who are dissenting the government. Thanks!

no bike light=arrest 31.Aug.2002 13:33

jenna resist421@yahoo.com

so last night on my way downtown to show support for other critical mass riders who were arrested, i was detained by four officers for riding in the bike lane without a bike light...then i was arrested for giving false information...i have to appear in court and i would greatly appreciate defense support....please email me...there were nine or so others who were in the jail with me...some of whom need support as well


Police Could Be "Targeting" Protestors 31.Aug.2002 14:39


I recognized one photo of a person being arrested yesterday. This was a person I saw being very "active" on A22. I also saw another, but because of the angle, I can't confirm it.

On A22 I saw cops video taping us at many locations.

I suspect they have created files on those caught on tape, and could be using these to pick out targets for arrest.

I have never used a bandana to hide my face, but I will from now on.

Critical Mass, I salute you all!

PDX is producing some great actions, and reflects it's great people.

In love and Struggle,

--M in Seattle

PS. The cops are not our enemies, just their agents. Focus your anger and build our new world!

Me Too! 31.Aug.2002 18:13


The last time I ran a red light I got a ticket too! I wish I had thought of giving false information for the ticket. What a clever idea. I could have gotten away scott free darn it!

The problem is not the enforcement of traffic law. The problem is the consistency of enforcement. Critical Mass has no entitlement to violate traffic law while the rest of us, experiencing the 5 pm critical mass, must obey the rules of the road. Share the road and respect the rest of us trying to get home to our families. That's what I do.

To "Green" 31.Aug.2002 21:03

bicycle and car driver

Let's get real about these streets, huh?

They are our public right of way

It is sick and wrong that so much urban space is now thought of as to be solely devoted to the automobile.

Critical Mass seizes that public space for bicycles, once a month for a few hours.

You still have 99.99999% of all roads in Portland available to you.

Until whole streets, all across the city, are set aside for bicycles and pedestrians only, this battle will continue

I personally spoke with motorists and passersby alike who were enjoying the "spectacle" of the ride, supportive of biking as a superior mode of urban transport, and appalled by the abusive and violent behavior of the pigs.

call the ombudsman 31.Aug.2002 21:13


Hey. Regarding that guy who threw the woman to the ground, it was totally unprofessional, I agree. She didn't want to press charges which is totally cool. BUT I am still going to register a complaint against Officer Larson with the ombudsman. The Mayor and Chief of Police have shown time and again they don't care. So in addition to calling their offices, please do join me in complaining to yet another party.

Incidentally, I am a bit disappointed in the Oregonian. When the guy from the Oregonian interviewed me about this incident, just minutes after the Mass had gone forward, I told him she was yelling at the cop because she felt he was hurting the guy who was getting arrested. Well, I read in the paper that she was just screaming at him (one might imagine from reading it that it was for no good reason...). It's great that the paper printed the part about the police brutality against her, but it did so in a rather incomplete fashion. I think it's unprofessional to paint her as someone who's just pissed off and in an officer's face when really she was behaving in a compassionate fashion. Needless to say I will be contacting the author about this to hear why he chose to frame things the way he did.

Let's get police accountability.

WOW! 31.Aug.2002 22:33


"Until whole streets, all across the city, are set aside for bicycles and pedestrians only, this battle will continue"

Wow, we should all worship at the Church of Your Truth. I wonder how the elderly and disabled would feel about getting around on a bicycle. I had better enjoy my occasional shopping trip and air conditioned Mazda before your ideology seizes power and dictates which Freedoms are actually worthy of my trivial life.

where there is the will, there is the way 31.Aug.2002 23:49


hey green,

elderly and disabled can be ridden around in pedal powered 'cars'. what a great service to offer to these people. lots of cyclists would gladly do so.

where there is a will, there is a way

it is a beautiful vision to have whole cities without cars, without their noise, danger and pollution

you have been conditioned to desire an air-conditioned machine that destroys the environment, that destroys community

if you are not willing to even envision an alternative to destructive car culture, car culture that is not sustainable, and that is a luxury only a minority can afford and which is built on the suffering of other people, you have no right to call yourself a green

raven 01.Sep.2002 04:58


In your world I apparently have no right to shop where I wish. I have no right to choose my mode of transportation. Now Raven would even say I have no right to use the name green. Sounds like ya'll are doing a fine job of "protecting my rights" with protests, massive bicycle rights, and civil disobedience.

By the way, Raven, bicycles are not the only green mode of transportation. I ride the MAX 80% of the time. Technology such as hydrogen cell cars only produce water as waste. Yea, I like some comforts. I've been jobless. I've been homeless. I've moved past all that and have the right to enjoy a few simple comforts without having to apologize for them.

Just because some parts of the world are starving doesn't mean I will deprive myself of good food that is available to me here. I savor it all the more. Just because some of my brothers still live on the street doesn't mean I will give up my house. I am all the more thankful. Just because my neighbor lives in a wheel chair doesn't mean I should feel guilt for the ability to walk. I cherish it all the more. Ideally, everyone in the world should have equal rights and opportunity to live well. Until that day comes, I will enjoy even the simplest of comforts that I have earned. I pray that when I'm old and weak I'm not bouncing in the back of some bicycle trailer just so that Czar Raven can dictate His Truth.

her truth, herstory 01.Sep.2002 07:31


as opposed to history.
yes, you have the right- but does that make it right?
like i tell my kid- and i know that growing up can be very difficult and confusing- its not alright just to take what you want when you are taking away from what other people need.
and remember you do not live in a void. all of your actions affect someone else. you have a right to have what you need- but when you affect others rights to get what they need. well, there needs to be some compromise there wouldnt you agree?
so you want a silly little car to drive you to the mall to buy stuff you dont need- probably more when your old and sad and all alone being isolated from your community and all. the original comment you quoted made allowance for your rude(loud and noxious) dangerous (cars are my biggest source of worry as a parent of small ones) car.......now, why not some roads for bikes too?
less cars! slow down! think about what other people need. these are her truths. the living planets, i mean.
clean air, clean water, healthy, and safety. your car and your greed is affecting all of these basic needs.

Gratularer med dagen fra MPLS! 01.Sep.2002 10:29

Colin fjordwind@hotmail.com

Holy shit. I can't believe the Portland cops would do this. Well, actually this is pretty familiar. Several massers were attacked in much the same fashion here in Minneapolis last March (see  http://twincities.indymedia.org:8081/front.php3?article_id=4541&group=webcast).

After March's Critical Massacre, several meetings with elected officials and police leadership took place, which, while contentious and often tense, yielded mostly positive results. No one has been arrested at a Critical Mass ride (which have grown exponentially in riders. March's ride consisted of about 60 of us. Each subsequent ride has had 200-300 people.) since the crackdown. At the April ride, police rerouted traffic around the mass, and followed it from behind to seal cars off that way (and, obviously, to keep their eyes on us). During May's ride, the cops came on bikes and brought ice water. And at last week's ride, nary a cop could be seen. Not surprisingly, the rides are quieter, friendlier and better received by the non-massing public.

I can't quite account for it. It's been a lousy year for the MPD, between at least four shootings of people of color, the death of an officer, the infamous hockey riot, our little fiasco and a mini riot two weeks ago where cops and mainstream reporters were attacked after police accidentally shot a ten year old boy. But it does seem that someone somewhere in the upper levels of police leadership has gotten wise to the fact that police create disorder violence and chaos at least as often as they put a stop to it.

I recommend that you refer leaders in the local government to the strategy Minneapolis has used to deal with critical mass. They might learn a thing or two.


PS - Props to JDS!

great photos and story 02.Sep.2002 12:26


Thanks for the great pictures and commentary. I would like to reiterate the points about arresting and pepper spraying people for traffic violations. This is absurd! Twisting arms and throwing people onto car hoods or the ground is a further unneccesary insult. Don't stand for this - call the Mayor, City Council, and police dept., even if you think that doesn't help, it's worth the time, I think. And come back for another ride next month!

Also, regarding the Hawthorne Bridge incident - the cops actually cut off the back part of the ride (100 or so riders) and closed off the eastbound lanes and sidewalk for about 15 minutes - with no apparent reason other than to harrass us and break up the ride. Then they let us through on the sidewalk and one of the lanes! Unbelievable (yet believable)....

Re: call the ombudsman 03.Sep.2002 01:05


William, who wrote
"call the ombudsman", by William 9:13pm Sat Aug 31 '02
The Oregonian has an ombudsman, too, let him know about your experience with the reporter.

do you have a "right" to poison the air? 03.Sep.2002 11:23

kayoss kayoss@rworld.com

It's long been said that your rights end where mine begin.

If that statement seems untrue, then perhaps your should explain why.

In any case, If this maxim is true, then you have NO right to drive a car.

When you drive a car you pump poisons into the air which affects not only MY right to clean air, but also affects the RIGHT to clean air of the rest of the worlds citizens, especially those who are not even yet born as they will have to spend their whole lives breathing your exhaust.

If you could drive without pumping poisons into the air (electric and fuel cell cars need to be charged, and most electricity is produced by coal or natural gas power plants still, so even that is polluting)

Of course, if you're SO lazy that you CHOOSE to poison the air that even your own children will grow up breathing, then its not your RIGHTS you're concerned about at all, now is it?

Independent Police Review Office 03.Sep.2002 13:34

Michael Mills

Several comments have been made to contact the Ombudsman regarding the Critical Mass incident last weekend. While I appreciate getting the word out that we are here, police conduct complaints are best addressed by the new Independent Police Review Office (IPR). The reason is that the new Independent Police Review Office was established in 2001 with the resources and expertise to address complaints about police officer conduct. The IPR office, like the Ombudsman Office, was established by City Council under the authority of the elected City Auditor (Gary Blackmer) to achieve a high degree on independence. They are supported by a Citizens Review Committee which holds regular public meetings. Please direct Police Officer Conduct complaints to the IPR Office. They can be reached at (503) 823-0146, or via their website:


With regards, Michael Mills
Ombudsman, City of Portland

What I did and didn't see... 03.Sep.2002 19:45

Murray Henson

I doubt this will be a popular comment, but I'll make it anyway.

The August ride was my second. July's ride was my first.

During the July ride CM participants rode through every single red light, along with taking up "three and a half lanes" of Burnside, or so the joke went. While riding through the red lights, CM participants did "nicely" stop opposing traffic by parking their bikes in the crosswalk.

And we wonder why the cops showed up in force for the August ride?

Part of the problem, I believe, is the "one mass" attitude. While it's a very effective tactic for stopping traffic and *making* motorists notice the hundreds of bikes ...it also means that the mass is very visible to our local law enforcement who surely received some complaints from motorists regarding the *complete* lack of police presence during, at least, the 6-7pm portion of the July ride. Note: yes, I left after 7pm. If there were cops after that, I didn't know about it.

There are solutions to the "one mass" attitude, the obvious being to obey the traffic rules. As long as the mass is moving along at a moderate speed, stopping at lights, etc ...what laws are we breaking? Who to arrest when no one is running a light? The benefit is that we still make an impact on motorists: *no* one will miss hundreds of bikes stretched for blocks and blocks. In fact, if we're stopping at lights, the mass will thin and be stretched out. To someone passing in the opposite direction, it will seem as though the bikes go on forever.

Additional un-wanted comments: I did not observe any particular police brutality. What I did see was many people getting ticketed. I did see a guy get zapped on or near 3rd and Stark around 7pm. I saw the same guy kicking and jerking around quite a bit. IE, "resisting arrest." You resist arrest, the cops will resist back. You try to interfere with an arrest, the cops will interfere back.

And yet I and the guy I was riding with were never once molested by the police. Nary a glance in our direction, as far as I could tell. How is this? Am I in with the cops? Did I bribe Portland's finest? Nope. Just stood off to the side, out of their way. Stopped at the lights. Had a headlight/blinky red light on. Hand signaled when turning. Used the bike lane when there was one (rare). Pulled off to the side when a cop car came up the street behind us. And rode, occasionally impeded, for an hour.

I know a lot of you out there want to be taping or photographing the arrests or citations, which must annoy the cops. But doing so isn't grounds for a beat down. After all, you're not the only one photographing or taping, are you? Someone gets an unwarranted beat down, someone else will see and document. The cops know this. Therefore, if they're giving a beat down, they think it's warranted. Maybe not a whole lot substantiating pepper-spraying someone, but maybe enough to hold up in court. Solution? Again, I believe you can photograph or tape and keep your distance. Maybe not. I'm not an expert in these matters, I'm just commenting on what I saw with my own eyes and what I think about what I saw.

I hope everyone out there gets my correct point. I'm not in with the cops and I don't enjoy or condone excessive policing of any people, anywhere. But CM participants need to live in reality. The US and specifically Oregon has laws in place. If you break them, be prepared to face the consequences. If you mess with the cops, they will mess back harder. It only takes one tiny poke in an officer's chest, or the appearance of interfering with their work for them to arrest you. If you resist arrest, expect to be man handled. The law allows it.

During the September ride I will, once again, be ignoring the "one mass!" cries. I will continue to make my point, along with many other law-obiding CM participants to the motorists in the streets of Portland. And, I predict that I will not be arrested, nor cited.

That's the beauty of the CM ride. There are no rules. Just ride.

CopWatch 04.Sep.2002 11:37

Ta'veren 93 HGK

Critical Mass riders, consider using the guerrilla reporting tactics devised by the CopWatch movement (www.copwatch.org) to assist you in documenting (and thus hopefully preventing!) police aggression while on your rides.

See "How to stage a 2 person mass protest" (these tactics will work even better with more supporters):

A video documentary is available online at the Guerrilla News Network,  http://gnn.tv/copwatch/