Sunday, August 28, 2005

August Critical mass: Hijacked and cluster-fucked

There were a couple of issues with CM this month again, but I think it might turn out for the best.

I got back from work a little later than expected, and when I got to the park, no one was there. I checked out another park, only to find bike cops. (They get stationed at all parks, just in case we switch the meeting place) I decided to just ride around town and see if I run into them. After about 15 minutes, I finally came across them, bikes on the side walk, police everywhere. Apparently they only made it a couple of blocks before an incident occured. Only seven people had showed for the ride, and the guys that had started organizing it, who try to maintain a sane atmosphere weren't there. There were, however, a couple of the "militants" as I will refer to them from now on, who I hadn't seen before. I did know one of them as a messenger that hangs out with my neighbors. When I say "militants", we all know the ones that I'm referring to. They hate the police, and try to antagonize them. They see supporting bicyle rights as supporting their belief that they should be able to do anything they want. It has nothing to do with equal rights, it has to do with selfish rights. I tried to get the story from them as to what happened, but of course all they say, and continued yelling to any spectating pedestrians, is how they were just trying to bike around, the police are arresting ticketing them for just riding. The couple of responsible "good" riders didn't see what happended. I finally got the story from the Lieutenant who is trying to generate good relations, and is in charge of staffing the officers from the ride. I'm much more prone to beleive her story than the militants.

pics: Citations being issues; From a distance; Puge (my road bike) with the cops cars in the back blocking traffic, always funny.

From what I able to gather, this is what happened. Unlike prior months, the police did not get a chance to talk to the riders before taking off. They usually try to explain what they are and are not going to allow. The mass was taking up one lane on a one way street, which the police "allow". At a stop light, it became obvious that the lane ahead was going to be blocked, so people started switching over to the next lane. Some used hand signals, and some didn't. The lack of hand signals caused the police to ask everyone to pull over, so they could explain the rules of the road. The militants in the middle lane, obviously did not like being told anything by the police and refused to move. At this point, I'm not sure as to when they were asked to stop blocking traffic. According to the police, the light turned green, and the bikers stayed standing where they were. I don't really have any reason to not beleive that that is what happened. This resulted in the police forcing them out of the road, literally having having to have two officers drag one girl off by force. They were all issued citations, during which time the officers noticed a strong smell of alcohol on one of them. The lead to a full field sobriety test, which lead to a breathalizer tester, which lead to the guy being lead away in hand cuffs and charged with a DUI. At this point, "green shirt girl," one of the militants, started yelling to the assembelled people. "Look at this. He was just trying to go for ride, and now he's getting arrested even though he passed the breathalizer test." The lieutenant informed green shirt that the guy had actually failed the test. Green shirt then went into a hissifit about being told dissinformation, and how the other cop had told her he passed the test, blah, blah. She went over and talked to the arresting officer, returning in 30 seconds to say, "I'm sorry, it was my friend who told me he passed, not the officer." Then after a short pause, and she went off again yelling, "How can he do that,just stand there while my friend tells me the wrong information with out correcting him? He should have made sure I got my facts straight. It's your job to make sure I don't spread dissinformation!" She was really yelling at this point. The good news is that shes moving out of town next week, so we probably have to worry about her again.

The lieutenant asked if any of us would mind talking her about the situations, and how to improve relations. Four of us hung around to talk. The remaining militants, Jill (The messenger that hangs around with my neighbors), and green shirt, were very hostile towards the lieutenatns request, and noticable perturbed at us for taking her up on the offer. They rode off in a hissy fit. One of the officers joking said "Now don't ride on the sidewalk, or else we might have to ticket you," as they started off. I agree that this wasn't a classy comment, and very unnecessary under the circumstances, but I don't think it warranted Jill to completely fly off the handle again, which of course she did. Then the two girls left.

The three riders and I talked to the lieutenant for about a half hour. She actually admitted that the reason the the police didn't get to do their speal before the ride, was because she had gone to grab a donut, and riders took advantage of her absense to quick leave. Super funny. After finishing up talking with the police, the four of us went to grab some food and drinks, and discuss what we were going to do.

This was the good result of the ride- better organization. Essentially, we're going to try to take a proactive stance in straightening the mass out. We're going to make sure flyers are put out again, hopefully get it listed in the News and Review again (this time listing the proper park), and try to get the main website to cut the links to old web Sacramento pages which have a super poor attitude and the wrong information. More importantly, there's enough of us that we should be able to try to stear the attitude in the correct direction.


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