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CRITICAL MASS report back

this months ride started out with (i didnt do a head count) 200-300 cyclists?
anyways it was a really good turn out
and as usual the police also had a good turn out (good for them bad for us)
we got to ride for 10-15 minutes without a problem
then the police came down on us mass ticketing and even arrests
i didnt see all the arrests but from talking with others we know of at least 4 arrests, and there had to have been 30-60 tickets handed out
one of them the police actualy tackled and violently arrested them
and all this for the smallest of trafic violations (lots of times violations they didnt commit)
one person i was riding with was pulled over for no lights on his bike,
he did have lights and when they noticed this they paused for a moment and decided that he didnt change lanes properly and gave him a ticket
there was 2 legal observers durring the ride (thank you) but as you might guess there was a lot of observing to do for 2 of them (you guys rock)
they were present for the first arrest and assault by a pig-cop

as the ride went on we got broken up and a smal group of us ended up just hanging out on the eastside esplinade
at this point we did a head count of bicyclists vs. pig-cops
it was 15 cops and 13 bicyclists
then about 20 minutes later just hanging around chit-chatin there was another head count
9 pig-cops and 6 bicyclists
they even had one of their fancy fast cars there (in case we started riding 120 miles an hour on our bikes im sure)

this is what i know
and i know that i will be back next month
no matter how many tickets they hand out
I wonder 30.Oct.2004 12:27


I wonder what is happening, if anything, with Vancouver's Critical Mass. Would someone report? Do the cops hassle on the north side of the Columbia?

I don't have a bike, so I couldn't follow you guys, if I did come. Keep riding, no matter. Is it always the last Friday of the month? What is the point for the police to hassle you? None, that I can see. It is an infringement upon your rights.

Legal Observer 30.Oct.2004 15:21

Thad B

I was one of the legal observers there. I sincerely feel like anyone who got a ticket (me included) should take some collective action. I am not a consistent mass rider, but I would be willing to help organize and keep track of folks. If someone is interested in this please email me at  tbetz@lclark.edu

Most folks got tickets for not having lights, I'm not sure how you could challenge this (maybe someone else does). Others recieved tickets for not changing lanes properly. I myself received a ticket for not having lights on my bike, even though I had them on me! What a joke--of course the cops simply didn't like the idea of me being there, and I'll laugh at them in court.

Final Warning: beware of Officer Taylor, a short, vicious cop with a chip on her shoulder for massers. If you fuck with her, she will either assault you (I witnessed this several times) or arrest you.

See you all next month!

How San Francisco Stopped Harassment of its Critical Mass 31.Oct.2004 20:00


SF ended major police harassment in the summer of 1998. Our campaign to assert our civil rights to freely assemble and ride took about a year. Detailed strategies were shared with Portland CM riders in 2002 (see comments):
and again in 2003:

All it takes is the resolve to stand up for your community bike ride. Or, just get used to getting your butts kicked.

Stopping the Mass Harassment
by How SF did it

1. File claims for damages against the city. This is a precursor to a lawsuit or class-action lawsuit. Whether you suffered injuries from the police during their handling of the event, or simply were denied access to the roadways or passage on a certain bike route, your civil rights may have been violated. If you believe your rights were violated, file a claim. Better yet, organize a mass filing of claims by e-mail or at the next critical mass. If you can enlist the help of experienced attorneys, even better, but you don't need a lawyer to file a claim. Many cyclists claimed damages upwards of $5000 to $10,000 in San Francisco; many of SF's injured cyclists settled successfully out-of-court. Be certain to assert that critical mass is a protected first amendment event.

2. Arrange for a mass call-in day to the mayor and city councilmembers. Tell them the mass harassment must stop NOW. It's amazing how this gets their attention when each city councilmember gets 100 or more phone calls in one day. Organize by e-mail, or flyering at critical mass.

3. File complaints against individual police officers, against police policy for handling the event, and the event commanders. Get a copy of the Portland PD's general orders and crowd control guidelines, and file specific complaints against any officers and their commanders who violate even the most minor guidelines. It is your right to file a complaint against the police if you believe their conduct is unlawful or if their conduct violates police orders.

4. Pack Portland's Police Commission hearings. Spread the word to show up at the first police commission hearing following the mass. Give them an earful, and let them know a lawsuit will be on the way if the mass harassment doesn't stop. be sure to assert that CM is a protected first amendment event.

5. Contest any citation you get at Critical Mass. CM is a protected first amendment event. Riding en-masse is your form of free expression. Tickets for red lights have the same relevance that a jaywalking ticket has at a peace march. Many police won't bother to show up if you contest your ticket in person.

6. Encourage the mass to turn every 3-5 blocks. The cowardly police hold back in small numbers, and usually attack only when they have lots of backups and officers in a certain location. Bicycles are more stealth in an urban environment than cars. Turning every 3-5 blocks makes it very difficult to track where the ride will end up, and hard for the cops to stage a crackdown. It's also fun to snake about the city! When possible, try to stay on well-lit streets with lots of pedestrians. Police tend to avoid heavy-handed crackdowns in areas where there are lots of witnesses.

7. Organize to videotape every ride, and document thoroughly police harassment of the mass. Beware selling or giving footage to the corporate media, they'll simply edit the footage and lie in their commentary. Remember: every car and gas commercial shown during the news buys spin you can't match.

8. File requests for public records regarding Critical Mass. If necessary, use the FOIA to request them. To begin, request the police' general orders for handling the event; any letters, memos, and other correspondence between the mayor's office and the Portland Police Department; and any files relating to the Critical Mass event from the PJTTF.

9. Support your fellow cyclists. It sucks to get pulled aside for a ticket, only to see the mass bike off into the sunset. Encourage others to stop and support fellow riders every time the cops hand out a ticket. Be creative. One highly effective project was to print cop trading cards with the pictures of abusive officers, commanders, and descriptions of police harassment. Cops like to be seen as the good guys: let the public know the truth with cop trading cards. Pass 'em out to kids in school.

10. Be your own media. (Congratulations, you're doing this already!) Get pictures, names, badge numbers, and descriptions of aggressive police posted as news.

Stand up for your rights, fight for them, or kiss them goodbye.

why? 01.Nov.2004 15:01


what i am not understanding about this is that you have people who support bikes that you are really pissing off! where do they go to have their grievences heard? i was in a cross walk with several people, crossing with the light when here comes critical mass buzzing through the cross walk and against the light -- no concern for people walking? think about what you'd feel like having a group of bikers buzzing by when you're trying to cross the street. i got hit by one masser, as i was attempting to get out of the way (the walk light still in my favor).

i understand protesting, though what it is you are protesting is frankly not clear. isn't portland one of the most bike supportive places in the country? if you're protesting, shouldn't the public understand just what the issue is?

or is it that you want me to get off my feet and onto a bike? :)

another note on the successfulness of sf's cm 01.Nov.2004 20:26


one thing that really helps legitamize sf's cm is its complete respect for pedestrians and other bystanders. when going through an intersection, cm should slow down or even stop for pedestrians. in sf, there are calls that go back, people yelling "pedestrian" so everyone knows to slow down. also, in sf, the cm waves and smiles at bystanders and drivers. there are multiple bicyclists with video cameras at every intersection. to sum it up, cm needs to be inclusive of everything but cars and cops. the riders need to respect and watch out for each other and they also need to respect bystanders.

Pedestrians! 04.Nov.2004 15:19


CM not stoppig for pedestrians is FUCKED UP!!!! what are you, idiots! shit!

sorry, but i stop for every pedestrian because i am almost as deadly to them on a bikeas i would be if i were in a car. and large mass moving at 15+ mile an hour fucks people up. whenever i bike i stop for pedestrians, its one of those respect things and ne of those traffic law that i respect for making high speed transportation possible. (yes, 20 miles and hour is very high speed. you only walk at like 3 miles an hour)
on top of that, walking is even more environmentally sustainable than bikes since theres no metal, no machining, lubrication, road building necesary for walking. all of which have a fair amount of energy and resource requirements, though they are astronomically less than with cars). Dont get me wrong here, biking is a miracle, fantastic, revolutionary (yay puns!) and i tend to carry hate in my heart for big truck drivers who scorn me for my velophilia. Fuckers. But for the love of quick realeases, stop for pedestrians.
pedestrians are our allies, until they get in their cars or put on their uniforms. (where does that leave _beat_ cops who are always on foot?)