July 30, 2008

Critical Mass July NYC Police Attack

This really dropped my jaw.

I'm not one to get upset about every little indignity visited upon us cyclists as ours is a righteous cause and we dish out plenty of indignities ourselves, but holy shit, this video really struck a nerve.

Now I don't care much for the police, never have, and I suspect I never will. It's nothing personal against the officers or the job, there have just been few experiences in my life when being around one gave me piece of mind, rather than taking it. As Bukowski once wrote (paraphrased by me as I'm not going to look up the passage) "It's not that I hate cops, I just feel better when they're not around."

Anyway I feel like a dislike and distrust for the police is somewhat part and parcel to urban bicycle culture. I am dismissive of a traffic system that was not created for me and in many ways makes my preferred mode of transport more cumbersome and handicapped than it should have to be. Using my own senses of common sense, respect for others, and the basic ability to judge the speed and trajectory of moving objects, rather than the stated traffic laws of this metropolis as my guidelines for conduct on the road has always been the truth for me. I believe my train of thought is shared by many of us riders and it puts us at long odds with the police as common sense can rarely be used as justification in a system which was created to take the place of personal judgement. Anyway it's an outlaw bunch that we be since we must operate under laws inadequate to deal with the needs of our form of locomotion, so after a while you just get used to an us vs them mentality with the authorities.

Now I am a reasonable person and I tend to believe that many accounts of police encounters with cyclists get way blown out of proportion in the art of a great story to spin over beers. I feel like many times the police officers get a bad rap because painting a police officer to look like the bad guy is the fun way to spin it and it plays well in our community. I have had many runs ins with the authorities and I find that they usually act in a reasonable way until you give them a reason not too. In short I am willing to believe that most authorities handle themselves in a responsible way. I don't feel naive and have no romantic notions about the nobility of their profession or anything like that. I hold them to the same standards as anyone else. The problem though is that when people in authority stop acting reasonable they can do alot more damage and get away with a lot more than Joe Average.

Case in point: The cyclist gets singled out seemingly randomly on a group ride, gets brutalized by an officer, and gets arrested for no reason that I can see reflected in the video. I feel so terrible for the cyclist who was arrested on multiple charges, including resisting arrest, and according to the officers account "swerved into the officer causing both to fall" (again paraphrasing), and have such contempt and disgust for the actions of the police officer that I find it difficult to express in words.

I am deeply saddened by this display of man's inhumanity to man, and sincerely hope that public outcry and disgust moves the police department of nyc to move swiftly and severely against the officer. As far as I know the officer has been taken off the street and put on desk duty, but the charges against the rider still stand.

I know that people have violently diverging opinions on critical mass and it's mission and impact. But I don't think there's anyone out there who could look me in the eye and say that the cyclist deserved that kind of brutality from the authorities.
It was total and utter bullshit, and made me sick to my stomach.

1 comment:

christeen said...

Wow. The biker was obviously trying to swerve around the officer. And the officer was obviously looking to antagonize the group. Thank you for posting this, as I hadn't heard about it.