Police Assault On Critical Mass Rider
August 1, 2008
By D. Day
[July 31, 2008] Civil rights activists and cycling advocates have long seen a pattern of excessive force and harassment against cyclists from the highest ranks of the NYPD. As reported across media outlets this week, the most recent occurrence of violence was captured on video during the monthly Critical Mass bike ride on July 25.
Critical Mass bike riders meet at Union Square Park at 7pm every last Friday of the month, from where they ride bikes throughout the city en masse. The rides are organized by Time’s Up, a 20 year old non-profit environmental group that has been using educational outreach and direct action to promote a more sustainable, less toxic New York City.
According to Time’s Up member Bill, the July 25 ride was about an hour behind schedule, a recent but regular occurrence at the rides, due to increasing police harassment. Therefore, the past few Critical Mass events have had to employ alternative means to circumvent the police. On that night, the riders split into three groups, two of which met at secret locations. At about 8:30pm, the groups dispatched from their locations and converged in Times Square around 9:30.
“The mood in Times Square is festive, and the cyclists are received by the cheering tourists,” Bill tells the SHADOW. Non-New Yorkers are used to cyclists being ever-present in other cities. The riders made their way downtown via Seventh Avenue, amid the bright lights and camera flashes. On Seventh, between 46th and 47th Streets, two police officers stood in the middle of the street causing riders to veer around them. Bill says that cops do not usually stand in the middle of the street during the rides.
As cyclists unexpectedly encountered the two officers, they steered around them. One of the riders, Chris Long, also attempted to do. Yet, as Chris prepared to pass on the left, Officer Patrick Pogan, a rookie who graduated from the police academy just three weeks prior, suddenly rushed towards him and body slammed Chris off his bicycle. The bike went flying, and Chris was physically launched off of it. Bill says that Chris is quite agile, and another rider could have met with considerably more dramatic injuries. Chris was dazed, but he got up and attempted to shake it off. He stood and was looking to get his bike, which was picked up by another rider. At that point, Pogan jumped on the startled cyclist, violently tackling him to arrest him. A walkie-talkie broke in half, presumably Pogan’s, and a billy club fell to the ground. People start gathering, getting angry. “This is what it looks like oil companies control America!” someone in the crowd shouted at the cops.
Chris, who is described as a mild-mannered environmentalist and Army veteran, subsequently spent 26 hours in jail, while Pogan filed a false police report and charges against the cyclist, including: attempted assault in the third degree, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct. A third-generation cop and former high school football offensive lineman, Pogan lives at home with his father Patrick Pogan Sr. Pogan Sr. was a detective, and is a biochemical and mass-destruction expert who is retired from the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
In his falsified report, Pogan stated that Chris drove the bicycle into him, bruising Pogan and knocking him to the ground. However, by the following day, Time’s Up was in possession of a video shot by a tourist that reveals the brutal truth of Pogan’s shocking conduct. [The direct link to this video is: <]”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vW36qt1SbE>], Bill tells the SHADOW that though these incidents continue to happen at every Critical Mass ride. Still, Bill says “The ride is still going! On the last Friday of the month — we’re not stopping!”
(As stated on their website, Times Up hopes that Critical Mass, and all group bike rides, can return to the safe, harmonious and fun rides that they once were in New York City. Bicycles are traffic, and as such they have the same right to be on the road — and travel at their own speed — as other road users. It follows that bicyclists also have the same responsibility as other road users to comply with the traffic laws, including observing such basic requirements as one-way street restrictions and traffic lights.)