GREENS DEFEND CRITICAL MASS AND BICYCLES AGAINST MASS ARRESTS
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Green leaders spoke out against efforts by law enforcement to target Critical Mass, defending cyclists' right to assemble.
Critical Mass, which holds mass bicycle rides to celebrate the bicycle as a healthy alternative to the automobile, has been the target of recent mass arrests and confiscation of bicycles.
"Police could easily allow Critical Mass rides to proceed without incident, instead of disrupting them and arresting riders," said Henry Lawrence, past President of the Florida Bicycle Association and Florida Green Party candidate for Bay County Commissioner in 2004. "Cities should make every attempt to accommodate bikes. Cities face increasing traffic demands, the effects of car exhaust such as asthma epidemics among children, and global warming. Bicycles represent one of the best hopes for clean urban transportation."
At least 37 Critical Mass participants were arrested in New York City on Friday, March 25; riders claim frequent harassment by police and city officials in New York and other cities.
"If bikers need a permit in order to gather in a public space, why isn't a similar permit required for cars?", asked Hank Chapot, archivist for the Green Party of California who has participated in Critical Mass rides in San Francisco, Berkeley, and London. "The permit requirement allows arbitrary arrest of bicyclists, including those who aren't involved in Critical Mass events but happen to be nearby."
Greens called the suppression of Critical Mass and a recent New York City lawsuit to gag Times Up, a nonprofit organization that has mentored Critical Mass, part of a larger campaign to criminalize protest.