149 Busted in Pedal Pests’ Tour De Farce
New York Post
August 28, 2004
By HEIDI SINGER and ZACH HABERMAN
Police arrested 149 bicyclists last night during citywide protests just days before a wave of activists is expected to storm on the Republican National Convention, officials said.
Bike riders had snaked through Manhattan for the monthly ride known as Critical Mass, but what was usually a crowd of hundreds swelled to thousands.
NYPD spokesman Paul Browne said the cyclists had caused “massive disruptions” and endangered drivers trying to get through the city.
Officials said 149 cyclists – 85 men and 64 women – had been arrested, including one for throwing a beer can at an officer. The officer was not injured.
“We gave them every opportunity to comply with the law,” Browne said. “Those who didn’t were arrested.”
It took nearly 45 minutes for the estimated 5,000 bike enthusiasts to clear from Union Square once the group started heading south on Broadway at 7:15 p.m.
The group then splintered off into a number of separate groups that rode throughout Midtown and lower Manhattan for about two hours.
Critical Mass, a bike club, meets on the last Friday of every month to ride through the city’s streets.
“Bicycle riding is a political act,” said Jimmy Johnson, who spent 12 days riding from Chicago to be part of the group last night. “If I can bike almost a thousand miles to New York, then people can bike to the grocery store.”
During the ride, bikers chanted anti-Bush slogans, caused widespread traffic jams and, in some places, argued with drivers.
One SUV took matters into its own hands when it mowed down a rider after being stuck in traffic near West Houston and Mercer streets just after 7:30 p.m., cops said.
The white Land Rover plowed through the cyclists, slightly injuring one man and crushing two bicycles before fleeing the scene, cops and witnesses said. The injured man refused medical attention.
One witness jotted down the SUV’s plate number, which Department of Motor Vehicle records identified as being registered to Ill Na Na Entertainment – a record label that represents musicians, including rapper Foxy Brown.
The arrests came a day after 11 AIDS activists were taken into custody after taking off their clothes near Madison Square Garden, demanding that President Bush forgive debt to the Third World.