Critical Mass Arrests
The Critical Mass bike rally, of approximately 250 people left near the Public Library at 5:45pm today, August 15th, followed immediately by 36 bicycle police, and later joined by many more officers.
The group was later split up, and one mass arrest (the most common number I've heard was 23), was made at Pico and Hope.
The other group was arrested at 18th and Flower, at approximately 6:45pm. This group I have heard described as anywhere from 30 to 50 people, and while no one present got a strictly reliable headcount, and the police were anything but forthcoming with a number, my personal count puts the number at about 35.
At 7:34 there were 52 riot police barring off those arrested from the 60 or so protestors there in solidarity and to cover the event. A request was made for more information, to which some high-ranking person walked out and called one protestor forward to talk with him for about thirty seconds. The protestor returned with the information that those arrested were being charged with going the wrong way down a one way street, and failure to stop at a red light.
More riot police continued arriving, some on motorcycles, bringing the number of cops on the street up to 86 by 8:05pm. The number of protestors remained fairly constant at this time, with various chants, many pro-bike, many pro-peace, going on every few minutes.
There was quite a media turnout for this event, though most of it was middle-range media - not quite CNN and C-SPAN, but not solely IMC either - who were willing to talk with those protesting, and expressed their support.
The arrestees were moved across the police controlled 18th street around 8:05, and lined up against the wall where their pictures were taken - my theory is that they were expressing jail solidarity, and this was to be used as identification. The police also began swapping out their men for new ones in groups of 16 or so.
At one point, while a large Corporate Media camera-man had his camera trained on us, a legal observer stepped forward and asked the police why these people were being held on a crime that they should not legally be detained on. The cameraman promptly shut off his camera, and the police only responded to the LO with chuckles and sneers.
At 8:35, a group of police left rapidly on foot down Flower street, and a helicopter flew five or six passes over the street, its spotlight remaining constantly trained on us. We tensed, expecting some sort of push, but nothing came, and eventually (at around 9:35pm, almost 3 hours after initially being arrested), the last of the bikers were finished being processed, and the police retreated completely, leaving only two cars being.
Within five minutes, an ABC affiliate van came driving up, and a reporter and cameraman hopped out to do a ten second spot on the 'incident' which they had managed to miss completely.
From LA, this is Brendan McGuigan.