NYPD Harassment of Critical Mass continues

Last night's Critical Mass bike ride could have gone without any problems. However, no matter how far we compromise, the NYPD insists on continuing to treat us as if we were dangerous terrorists. They continue to criminalize a legal gathering; they continue to try to harass us into giving up. Dear NYPD: Fuck You! We will not back down. Rights are rights only when you use them.

We all tried so hard last night to have a fun ride. We all tried so hard to give the cops no excuse to arrest, ticket, or otherwise interfere with our right to assemble and ride.

The ride stopped at every light. We blocked no traffic. We kept the ride to one or two lanes, making sure we could not be accused of blocking traffic or disorderly conduct of any kind.

Everything seemed to be going along fine. We had a crew of cops on fancy new scooters riding along side us the entire time. They seemed completely bored. Based on the money the NYPD must have spent on those new rides and the overtime for all those cops, you'd never know there's a financial crisis in this city.

The ride was moving uptown on 6th avenue. When we stopped at a red light at 41st street a couple dozen cops appeared out of no where, walked towards us and ordered a bunch of us to get off our bikes and give them our ID.

When I asked the cop why he wanted to see my ID, he informed me that he was going to write me a summons for riding without a helmet. "But I'm over 16 officer, the law does not require me to wear a helmet" I said. "Yes it does, give me your ID" was the reply.

So, I moved off to the sidewalk, put my bike down and gave the pig my ID. I was worried that he might notice that the battery for my back light had just died, which could have led to a genuine violation of the law. As he looked at my bike and started to write the ticket, I pointed out to him that I had a front light, a back light and a bell, making my bike fully compliant with the law. I was glad he did not think to ask if the lights were working.

As the crowd stood around, a couple dozen folks waiting for their illegal summonses, people were busy looking up the law and being very vocal that the law requiring helmets did not apply to adults. I was worried that the cops would realize that they were about to give me a summons that would be easy to get out of (since there was no law being violated) and they would think of something else to charge me with, maybe claim that I ran a red light or something harder to beat. I also was thinking that I wanted a summons for not wearing a helmet because such a summons could be used to prove a larger pattern of intentional harassment of a legal gathering.

Much to my surprise, after running a warrant check on me, the cop came back a few minutes later and gave me back my ID and told me that I was right. There was no law about helmets and I was free to go.

Their goal was to break up the ride, their goal was to harass us into going home. Their goal is to violate our rights. They won again, even if I did not get a ticket. We all went home because none of us wanted to push things and end up in jail for the weekend for going on a bike ride on a nice spring night.

Critical mass bike rides happen all over the globe without incident. Why does the NYPD insist on continuing to violate our rights and waste our money by continuing this pattern of harassment?

They might have forced us to end the ride early, but we'll be back next month. See you all 7pm May 29th, at Union Square.