2004-08-30 RNC Arrests Target Peaceful Cyclists

August 30, 2004

Disproportionate Majority of RNC Arrests, Over 350,
Target Peaceful Cyclists

Cycling Organizations Call for End to NYPD Intimidation
and Trumped-Up Charges for Citation-Level Infractions

 

With Sunday's massive arrest of over 80 cyclists -- adhering to
traffic regulations at the time of their apprehension -- the total
number of bicycling-related arrests during the RNC has surpassed 350,
making cyclists the most targeted population. Although the past
five years have seen little NYPD interference with group bike rides,
city officials have criminalized bike riding during the heightened
political climate of the RNC.

Sunday's ride, which was attended by nearly two hundred and fifty
people, began peacefully, but escalated when approximately ten
undercover officers on unmarked scooters weaved into the crowd,
inciting cyclists and swerving at their bikes. Within minutes, the
police had cornered the ride on a side street; they never ordered
the ride to disperse, though they detained 63 individuals. The
arresting officers were not present when the riders were detained.

"It's ironic that the Mayor would encourage New Yorkers to take to
the streets on bicycles during the convention to alleviate congestion
and traffic, then turn around and permit the NYPD to demonize cyclists
in this way," says Matthew Roth, a TIME'S UP! organizer who was
arrested during Sunday's ride. "The message is obvious: if you're
riding a bike this week, you're not safe from harassment."

In addition to Sunday's mass arrests, 264 cyclists were arrested
at Friday's hugely successful Critical Mass ride, most of them after
the ride had finished. Although the NYPD had rarely interfered with
the monthly event in the past, to demonstrate their preparedness for
the coming protests, they launched a campaign in the press and within
the cycling community to discourage riders from coming out. Despite
these efforts, over 7000 devoted cyclists reclaimed public space and
celebrated bicycles as an environmentally sustainable alternative to
cars.

"To see that many New Yorkers and visiting bike riders on the
street was a poignant reminder that these issues are much bigger than
a single convention," reminds Brandon Neubauer, another TIME'S UP!
organizer. "Promoting bicycles as non-polluting transportation in a
time of wars for oil and natural resources should be a key issue not
only in the political arena, but in our everyday thinking."

TIME'S UP! Environmental Organization will once again be on the
streets with hundreds of New Yorkers and riders from around the
country Tuesday, August 31st, celebrating the right to ride a bicycle
without harassment and in solidarity with demonstrations against
the RNC. TIME'S UP! is also collecting information from all cyclists
arrested during the week and a half of the RNC in preparation for
legal action.