2004-09-24 Bike Protestors and Police Talking – WABC

Bike Protestors and Police Talking about Tonight’s Rally in New York WABC New York
By Eyewitness News’ Kemberly Richardson
September 24, 2004

It has been a monthly ritual for the past six years: Packs of cyclists
gather in Union Square and pedal throughout the city. They are advocating
non-polluting forms of transportation. Up until last month, “Critical Mass”
has been a peaceful event. There have never been any arrests. But four
weeks ago, that changed.

Now members of the NYPD are meeting with activists to discuss tonight’s
“Critical Mass” demonstration through the streets of Manhattan.

Bill Dipaola, Organzier: “We are trying to work with the city. We have
been doing this ride for over eight years in New York. I think it has
been going on over ten years in California. It really hasn’t had too
many issues.”

The last month’s protest became a big issue for police. Just days before
the republican convention, thousands of cyclists jammed Midtown, causing
commuter chaos as they pedaled their pro-environmental message. Cops
arrested more than 200 riders and seized their bikes. Some activists
expect another large turnout for tonight’s ride.

Matthew Roth, “Critical Mass:  I think that some people are hesitant
because of all of the noise that the police have made. They were making
this noise last month and people came out and there were over 5,000. It
was one ever the largest the world has seen.”

Protest organizers have no idea how many riders may show up tonight.
They admit many who rode last month were out-of-towners in New York
to protest the convention.

Cyclists are expected to show up here in Union Square at 7:00 pm.
Organizers say they expect a minimum of 1,000 people.

As for the bike route, the people at the front of the pack will decide
that as they go along.

Copyright 2004, ABC Inc., WABC TV Inc.