march 4th: right before we left, i counted approximately 80 bikers, 20 bike cops, 15 motorcycle cops, 15 riot cops, and three horse cops. those were just the ones that were visible.
so after we left 23rd, we were soon corralled down and over the bridge. we tried to stop and walk our bikes through the park blocks and were told by the police that we only had one option, which was to turn around, go back to the street, and cross the river. i seriously doubt the legality of this move by the police; for those who can't remember the first amendment, it reads, "Congress shall make no law... abridging... the right of the people peaceably to assemble...." we were peaceful and obeying all traffic laws.
so, many people chose to be herded over the bridge. i chose to participate in "sidewalk mass" on second street with about 15 or 20 others. the police were directly trying to intimidate us at this point; one cop shouted at us, "you look scared! why are you running away?" while two other motorcycle cops tried to block us from walking on the sidewalk by driving their motorcycles in front of us (neither ever said that we couldn't walk on the sidewalk, they were just trying to intimidate).
everything pointed to the pressure that city hall has been receiving from the business alliance to get us to shut the fuck up downtown. as vera said, "downtown is open for business!" they wanted us out of downtown and over the river. unfortunately, most riders complied. all this points to our success at making the city aware of our strength, and the need to keep the pressure on.
based on this, i have a few points that i'd like folks to consider:
First, and underlying all of our other decisions, we should do everything in our legal, peaceful power to stay downtown. We should especially focus on the business district. Those at the top have directed the cops to keep us away from there. The cops have no right to keep us away from there.
Second, there is a a great deal of power in "sidewalk mass" to move around the police, especially if it's done in small groups with lots of exposure to the general public.
Third, whenever we split into small groups and break off, the cops freak out because they don't know which unit is going where. Whenever we stop riding and gather into a large group, the cops freak out (but they also get a chance to re-group). When these two things would happen, you could hear on their radios frantic discussions over how to split up and re-group, and how to force us over the river.
i'd like to propose that we set out an area of downtown (perhaps the 6 blocks immediately surrounding pioneer square) and that we urge everyone to stay within that area. critical mass is still a mass, but this time it's massing in one whole zone rather than a couple of blocks. call it guerilla mass. use sidewalk mass, or just calmly get off our bikes and walk along the sidewalk to the next street down, in order to bypass cops and keep the message alive in the heart of the city. split up into groups no smaller than 10, no larger than 20. never, ever, ever cross the river. try to stay away from bridges, as the cops mass near them and can be very effective at blocking all other routes. never confront the cops, just flow around them like water over rocks. as soon as confrontation happens, we've acknoledged their wall and their wall forcing us across the river becomes successful. most importantly, maintain a presence in the zone we want to own for the night.