Critical Mass Reportback

26 09 2004

Fred Askew has been taking dope photos of the nyc activist scene for quite awhile. He’s hip to what’s going down and keen on capturing the magic, needless to say he was there last friday to record September’s Mass.

The ride was a huge success given the level of intimidation and fear mongering the police were employing to try and keep people from participating. Riding one thousand strong we rode up Park avenue with a police escort of 20 or so new vespas, blocking traffic and generally facillitating the ride as they normally do, only this time they liked to think they were in “control.”

This notion was broken wide open when the front of the ride was in the heart of Times Square–on broadway passing 43rd street–just as a break-away group of a few hundred cruised from 43rd street to join us. The white shirt cop that had been trying to “control” the ride could only stare and shake his head in frustration. I took the opportunity to ask him “Who’s in control now!” He didn’t answer.

The Mass continued south on broadway until 36th street where a small amount of craziness ensued. I was with a break away group on 36th street and came very close to getting boxed-in (aka trapped). But my good buddy Timmy and i recognized what was happening and succesfylly made run for the corner. Minutes later other people escaped through a parking garage that opened onto 37th street. Eventually 9 people were arrested on 36th street, but were released in a few hours, some with their charges dropped. Regardless, the Mass continued for a good hour or two, cruising throughout donwtown.

The big story about 36th street was when people locked their bikes up and walked away the cops cut through their chains to take their bikes. So while only 9 were arrested, 40 bikes were confiscated. There is a great article from the NY Times about what happened. The NYPD is digging a bigger hole for themselves. The state is incredibly bull-headed.

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