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critical mass results in show of force

by AIM Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2000 at 8:48 PM

Los Angeles is an extreme car culture and a peaceful demonstration by bicyclists is transformed by LAPD into a ugly display of power.

what happened out there today at 5:45pm...200 or so bicyclists clad in colorful regalia gathered together to bring attention to the need of bicycle awareness in the city of los angeles. we rode obeyed traffic lights and one ways, and followed general traffic procedure. it was a peaceful demonstration. there was chanting: 'more bikes, less cars', 'who's street, our streets', 'critical mass'. it was a peaceful and enthusiastic critical mass. one of the largest masses in los angeles ever, a reason alone to celebrate. LAPD, however, followed in squad cars, motorcycles and bicycles, which in itself may be okay if their purpose was to insure public safety. Although, there was no threat to pedestrians, cars, or other bicyclists posed by the riders of critical mass, LAPD though it fit to pose an unneeded risk to the critical mass riders by cutting them off without warning and without, as far as i can see, cause. there was no call to the riders to stop at that point so the mass continued up an alley. now LAPD was chasing us down one ways the wrong ways, altering a course that was legal. the mass was eventually brought to a halt as LAPD cornered the riders with additional deployment dressed in riot gear. in a stunned and disoriented moment, the bikers were told to get off their bicycles. those that didn't were charged. one particular biker on a red bicycle was pushed off his or her bike and billy clubbed by four police in riot gear right adjacent to the pico blue line station. 50 odd bikers were arrested and handcuffed, no media was allowed near any of the detained while they were held, the legal observers were never informed by the police as to the charge under which the cyclists were held and bicycles were confiscated hopefully to be returned, but there is no guarantee on that either. the bikers were handcuffed told to stand facing the wall for about 2 hours to wait for buses to take them to the precinct, for what we still don't know. this waiting process brought more and more onlookers and and several more batallions of police force to handle the potentially dangerous helmet-wearing, backpack-carrying bicyclists who then needed to be escorted individually to the buses by police in riot gear in case one of them unexpectedly pulled out a patch kit or lord forbid a bicycle pump. it was a totally disgusting display of power and one that reinforces the tension between the public and the LAPD...i'm out.

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