Sunday, August 29, 2004
Critical Mass Bike Rally Draws 5,000; 264 Arrests
New York City (NYC) saw its largest Critical Mass bike rally ever on Friday, August 27, with over 5,000 participants in the 2-hour event, highlighting a week of activities hosted by Time's Up, an NYC-based environmental organization. During and after the event, New York police arrested 264 participants, according to a report in Newsday.

"Video of the evening being processed by the Indymedia Center right now shows the regrettably predictable violent nature of the arrests," according to an early report on the New York City Indymedia website. "Caught on tape are images of protesters being thrown off their bicycles, heads beaten into the asphalt, then cuffed with plastic flexi-cuffs. Pedestrians milling about also unfortunately fell victim to the cops, getting pulled off the street and arrested too," the report stated.

Founded in 1992, Critical Mass holds monthly bike rallies on every continent except Antarctica, with the vast majority in Europe (139 rides) and North America (208 rides). Cyclists ride through the streets disregarding traffic signals in a form of non-violent civil disobedience, creating a temporary liberated space and reclaiming the streets from the monopoly of fossil fuel car traffic. (Article on Critical Mass's 10th Anniversary here.)

Although technically illegal, it is now commonplace for police to accompany and facilitate Critical Mass rides. There were scores of arrests of Critical Mass participants in Los Angeles during the 2000 Democratic National Convention, when police suddenly, without warning, switched from facilitating the ride to arresting participants.

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