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Critical Mass Arrestee Report-Back

this is copied from an open letter to jaysun on the original critical mass report-back post.
Hey, I'm pAx, the kid with the mohawk who was arrested at critical mass.

It feels like when I told the cop to fuck off, you saw that as a hostile act on my part, without stopping to analyse the circustances surrounding it.

My comrade has mentioned to some people that in other towns they use critical mass as a way to make a real statement to cars, saying "we're entitled to a full lane and we're going to use that right" (some of us in this town are tired of being the peeons of cars, getting run off the road and such) There was a pig behind him when he said that, and that pig almost knocked over several people racing ahead to threaten my comrade and tell him that he was after him. I biked ahead to let that cop know that my comrade was not the only one who felt that way. I said my piece angrily, but that's because I feel anger toward that cop. That cop wishes to hurt me and my friends in the name of defending capitalism. He was trying to be sneaky by whispering to him and that's not consistent with a transparent government. It's part of their stupid jock masculenity complex.

So he tucked his tail between his legs and rode on, following us ever-so-closely... as he promised. A few blocks later we came to a red light. We didn't "run" the red light. We, in fact, took a right turn on a red light, making sure to stop first. The cop told us we had ran a red light and were being ticketed. We told him that a right turn on red is legal. That aggravated him, and he said to another cop "I think we've isolated the problem" and he rammed his tire into another comrade's front wheel. Knocking her to the ground. He dragged her to the sidewalk grabbing her by her neck. Her husband rushed over there, clearly distraught. He was sort of in the cop's face, but by no means attacking him. I went over there, yelling at the cop to quit (logistically a good idea? no. a rational response by anyone with a heart that beats and a conscience worth listening to? yes.) As soon as another cop showed up, he jumped on my back. The moment I was touched by the cop I fell to the ground and went limp. I made a point to tell him "i'm going limp. I'm not resisting. I choose not to self-arrest" (true to most people's assumptions, this wasn't my first time in this scenario).

So, now i'm being charged with Disorderly Conduct II (class C misdomener), Failure to obey a traffic signal (violation), Resisting Arrest (Class A misdomener), and interfering with the actions of a police officer (unsure).

So, that's the story. Onto a personal note:

I don't presume to know your experience with Critical Mass, but I've been massing on and off for three years and I've seen contact with police, positive and negative ebb and flow with the years, but for the most part the police have been the enemies of Critical Mass, trying to shut us down or herd us into parts of town where we're invisible. Back in the day, the police stayed away from us while we were gathering, knowing that this was not their event, as they're the guard-dogs of capitalism and cyclists/bike punks were a threat to global military capitalism. Sure, we got our asses kicked every once in a while, but we had some fucking backbone and we had some fucking solidarity. There was an understanding that there were pigs and there were cyclists and their interests were the opposite. We come from many diverse backgrounds, but the fact is, we're all bicyclists, and if we can't support one another when we're under attack, we're not worth shit.

I've only ridden mass in another town once, and it was before portland-mass became the cop-justifying liberals they're known known as nation-wide... but I'm told in other towns they still have mutual respect and solidarity, and know how to show cars that we're not going to be herded into a bike lane, we're not going to be cut off, and we're not going to let the pigs co-opt our movement for their own good-press.

On a side-note, the ones I see justifying the cops behaviors are usually the bike-jocks wearing the spandex with logos, which usually are yellow and black... the same colors as the cops. Coincidence? Probobally. But I would never wear the yellow and black bicycling. "I am a revolutionary and you are going to have to keep on saying that. You going to have to say I am a proletariat. I am the people. I am not the pig." Fred Hampton

Are you a bicyclist, or are you a pig? Do you support making your presence known, as the critical mass motto proclaims, or do you support the suppression of the bicyclist-rights movement. Do you support the system the punishes bicyclists for the unsafe behavior of cars? If so, you're a pig and you have no place at critical mass.
Another arestee report 02.May.2006 22:38


I was one of the people arrested during last Critical Mass and would like to say some words. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and I'm visiting Portland for a few days. In the Bay Area the Critical Mass ride is really democratic and spontaneous, the cops are not there controlling the ride. Not because they don't want to, but because the bikers have fought hard in the past (and have been arrested, beaten up) to conquer that respect. So now the cops prefer to leave Critical Mass riders alone and avoid confrontation. Once in a while there's some attempt from law enforcement to interfere in the ride, but the bikers keep the same "activist" attitude and defend the collective spirit of the ride.
So when the Portland CM started last Friday, I was really disappointed. It's not a leaderless, spontaneous, non-hierarchical ride - it is controlled by the cops, the crowd is divided at each stop sign, and there isn't that enthusiastic, defiant, critical attitude by the mass. Instead, there's an apathetic submission. My partner, who also lives in the Bay Area, approached me saying that we should leave, saying that the ride is lame and ridiculous. But I felt that I shouldn't leave without trying - after all, CM is about people taking responsibility and not waiting for others to make it happen. Let me say that I am not the kind of person that confronts the law often, in fact I have never been arrested before. I just expressed my feelings loudly to other bikers that were around me, saying that I felt that we should keep the crowd together, and maintain the flow. Some bikers replied, some agreeing but also expressing concern about the cop's retaliation. Soon became clear that the cops weren't there only to impose the obedience of traffic laws (even the most insignificant ones) but were also there to prevent the spirit of spontaneous collective organization, and started "punishing" those that expressed themselves, shouting, intimidating and threatening us. At some point, Pax (who I haven't met until then) screamed back at the cop, angrily stating that threatening one of us is threatening all. I think that what he said represents the spirit of CM, that we are all one, but some people in the crowd literally shouted that Pax should speak for himself only, showing that they didn't share in the solidarity. For fear, I wouldn't scream at the cops as Pax did, but I totally admired his courage because I think that what he said was right and the anger that he showed to the cop was fair and deserved. Then cupcake tried to stop in front of the cars in a stoplight, to let the other bikers go and protect them from being run over by cars - this is a traditional bike ethic in CM and any other democratic bike rides, but one of the cops advanced on him, threatening to arrest him, clearly showing that it's not a leaderless ride, but actually they are in charge. Then in a red light we turn right (from bike lane to bike lane) and a cop shouted that we should stop. Since we kept going (and I still think that is not illegal to turn right in the red light) he violently attacked my partner Molly, in a really bizarre and coward manner. It is really weird that from every one around he chose to attack her. Seeing his over reaction and in the heat of the moment, I jumped in between the cop and my partner, and Pax was also there shouting to him to let her go. Soon, other cops grab me, and ended up arresting me, Molly, Pax and Cupcake, and also gave tickets to other people that protested. Some worthless rats turned theirs backs while we were being violated and called other bikers to leave the scene. Many others, though, went to the police station in solidarity and waited for hours until our release.
Clearly, in Portland there's no Critical Mass, since the cops are the bosses and people "uncritically" accept every order. I can even understand that some people are somewhat cowards, and would rather avoid the trouble or the risk of a reprimand from the police (I myself learned my lesson and would never again go to a ride with that many cops). But to have solidarity to those that do take the risks for everyone is the minimum to expect from CM riders. That some people actively speak against those bikers and justify the authoritarianism of the cops is just disgusting. I heard that some people in Portland have meetings with law enforcement, speaking in the name of CM. These opportunist bastards are perverting the spirit of CM. Unfortunately, underneath the superficial style of hip biker, most people are just like the great majority of people in this society: conformist, alienated, submissive, or just plain hypocritical motherfuckers.
Whether people will try to save critical mass by doing rides in different dates (preventing cops and two-faced bikers to show up); or if people will just let the project die or be appropriated seem less important. What seems to really matter is that as long as this kind of alliance between conformists in one side and authoritarians in the other goes unchallenged, every fun, free, democratic project is doomed to fail and this society's journey towards fascism will succeed.