August 30, 2004

RNC Quick Update

Before I write up my personal experience of yesterday's Bike Bloc, here are links to good information about the last couple of days.

For up to the minute news, visit NYC Indymedia. If you really want to be on the up and up, register your phone with Text Mob and join the "comms_dispatch" group to receive text messages used by protesters to determine routes and actions.

A fantastic piece about Friday's critical mass was on Monday's Democracy Now!. Includes bike mounted camera footage of the ride, the producer being arrested, and the police swinging batons at a crowd chanting for the release of a bicyclist. Democracy Now! is covering the actions and protests surrounding the Republican National Convention with video footage, photos and interviews.

Some recent articles:

One of the funnier actions occuring tomorrow: Defend Johnny Cash - Man-In-Black Bloc.

Posted by brainsik at 09:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 28, 2004

BNC Critical Mass

Last night critical mass rode as what is likely the largest mass of riders in its world history. The low estimate by police and media is between 5000 and 6000 riders while the reasonable high estimate is as many as 10,000. The Bike National Convention, spearheaded by bike activist group Times-Up, was a major force behind the swell of riders in last night's tour of the city.

Critical Mass rides through Times Square

Critical Mass events have been occuring on the last friday of the month in NYC for over 8 years. For the first time, police declared riders were violating the law, creating unsafe traffic conditions and would be arrested if the mass proceeded as usual. A flier of fear was distributed by police to riders meeting in Union Square. In the past, NYPD fear tactics have successfully reduced the size of Times-Up organized bike events. However, last night's deep failure to reduce the size of the ride may have served to frustrate the police force, leading them to unnecessarily arrest over 250 bicyclists.

For over a month, a large after party was being organized for the end of last night's ride. A space was secured as was valet bike parking. The purpose was to end the ride in celebration and provide the space and resources to accomodate an expected large group of riders. However, over the last week police and coast guard were regularly visiting the chosen establishment's owners in an attempt to scare them from hosting the planned celebration. Two days before the ride, their tactics were successful and the owner pulled out.

By successfully removing the critical mass after-party, the New York Police Department effectively created the scenario of thousands of riders pouring through the streets with no final destination. Quickly, Times-Up secured a much smaller space, St Marks church. The venue became less of an afterparty and more of an attempt by the NYPD to cover their failings.

The ride stopped in front of St. Marks but the large mass of people was only able to slowly move inside the grounds. Street watchers filled sidewalks further impeding the the bicyclists street exit. Boxed in, the NYPD swept into the street riot style and arrested anyone present (whether they were trying to leave or not).

As noted by Times-Up organizers, this loss of after-venue and it's effective result in arrest and chaos is a possible first sign of what will happen with RNC protest marches in the face of non-granted Central Park permits.

[Update: 8:30pm Eastern | A reasonable NY Times article.]

My friend Brandon will also be keeping a blog during the RNC, check out Learning to Roar.

Posted by brainsik at 01:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack