Streams

Critical Mass and the NYPD

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

In light of the recent YouTube video that captured an NYPD officer assaulting a Critical Mass bicyclist, New York Times reporter Jim Dwyer discusses the incident and the larger issues presented by Critical Mass bicycle rides.

Comments [95]

seth from NYC

I'm a cyclist in Manhattan. Have avoided any serious accident to myself for over 20 years. I credit my safety record to above all, riding at a reasonable and predictable speed. Unfortunately, in watching the video, I'm struck by the speed that the rider who went down was going. There is no way a rider should be traveling at that kind of speed, yet so many riders travel at speeds that make them a threat to themselves and to others. I'm not saying it was RIGHT for the cop to do what he did, but that rider is MOVING at a very fast clip. Booking on a bike in Manhattan may be fun, but it is threatening and dangerous. That cop, I think, was sending a message to that rider. Slow down. A couple of years ago I went to Amsterdam and did a lot of riding. What struck me was that you NEVER see riding like we see in Manhattan there. (Damn, you can't even ride without a headlight in Amsterdam without getting busted, but that's another story). In NYC how many riders are whipping by pedestrian in the evening without lights, going against traffic and scaring the heck out of people at every other corner? But, pedestrians are guilty as well. How many walk against a red light when they see a bike coming? (If I'd a dime for how many times I yelled at people when they did this, I'd be rich!) I could go on, but, it's clear that too many riders, pedestrians and motor vehicles disresepect each other.

Jul. 31 2008 12:05 AM
guy catelli from downtown

once again, Brian, you're siding with the criminals against the NYPD.

by doing so, you're making Rush and Sean's job that much easier.

i witnessed an uncritical mass of cyclists wilding their way up 6th just above Houston one night. imo, it's a miracle that no one was seriously injured.

it's a tragedy that advancing a progressive agenda continues to be held hostage sby an element on the left who inisist on *always* being on the wrong side of public safety, at home and abroad.

Jul. 31 2008 12:02 AM
hugh from New York

Oh Truth, the only hyping being done here is by you. OK, let's talk about what he did do. Lying under oath. But what if he decided to lie under oath with a gun on his lap? What if he decided to lie under oath while also plotting to rob the corner store? What if he lied under oath and also decided to shoot heroin into the arms of schoolchildren visiting the courthouse?

OHMYGOD!

Jul. 30 2008 08:54 PM
Hank

If you think of the police as owning the protection racket rather than in terms of protecting the public their conduct will make more sense to you.

Jul. 30 2008 05:02 PM
Larry from Brooklyn

I cant believe the reaction this is getting, over a guy getting knocked down by a cop!!!

WOW

But if is a black guy getting killed for no reason but just celebrating his wedding the next day not a single peep from theses same white people.

The guy ridding the bike deserved it !!!

what goes around...

Jul. 30 2008 02:51 PM
David! from NYC

78--I've had some of the same questions since I saw the video. Other cyclists went by this cop before he shoved that rider. Why that particular rider? Had the cop just reached a breaking point? Was that rider taunting? Something else?

I don't offer these questions as a justification of the officer's actions. I'm just curious.

Jul. 30 2008 01:47 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

and HUGH, very well, let's talk about what he actually DID DO! We can start with lying under oath.

Jul. 30 2008 12:53 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

to #71 - funny you think this being hyped up. What police force do you work for?

Jul. 30 2008 12:46 PM
eva

As a lifelong cyclist (never driven a car) I really find it difficult to appreciate Critical Mass (I'm TRYING to be diplomatic in putting it that way.) I think the bulk of them poorly represent real riders, and our environmental concerns.

Having said that, it was a dumb and potentially very dangerous way to get a rider off his bike, and will cost the city. No one should attempt to do this to a cyclist, it's just crazy. I'm completely amazed by how many cyclists are writing in saying they've been harrassed by police. With a 2-300 mile a week riding "habit", I think I was harrassed by police exactly zero times. But that doesn't excuse what happened here.

Jul. 30 2008 12:25 PM
hank from New York

Ah cops. The people you love to hate until you need one.

I always have to shake my head when people complain about cops running red lights or parking "illegaly."

Wouldn't you just love it if you need the police and they show up an hour later and tell you it's because they had to wait at all the red lights and then spend 30 minutes looking for a legal parking spot? Grow up, children.

Jul. 30 2008 12:18 PM
mark from New York

"i'm guessing everyone who objects to CM is not a cyclist."

You'd be guessing wrong.

Jul. 30 2008 12:10 PM
amy from brooklyn

Brian, your guest is lying. Critical mass has no planned routes; the only thing planned ahead of time is the time and place it begins, which has remained the same for years. He calls the language of leaderlessness "Orwellian" . . . ??? If he attended even once, he would easily see/hear for himself the spontaneity of the ride's direction. Next time, invite someone who knows what s/he is talking about!

Jul. 30 2008 12:10 PM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

I am not sure what the answer is for critical mass but, I DO know the riders should not be assaulted. What if the dude went flying off the bike hit his head and died? What in the world was he thinking? Guess he was not.

Jul. 30 2008 12:03 PM
Paul Wood from Montclair, NJ

Unfortunately, I think this is only a symptom of a much larger systemic problem. There has been a steady and progressive errosion of the protection of individual and civil rights in the USA. Law enforcement systematically breaches constitutional rights. Knocking people off bicycles, randomly searching back-packs in the subway, DWI dragnets at tunnels and bridges on St. Patrick's Day. All of which are actions tied to the errosion of the 4th Ammendment.

Finally, technology allows people to watch the watcher. The result, I'm afraid, will be that cops will just drag people out of camera range and the damage will be even more severe.

Jul. 30 2008 12:02 PM
peter from manhatten

i'm guessing everyone who objects to CM is not a cyclist.

Jul. 30 2008 12:02 PM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

#71, you’re making complete sense. And to all you cop hatters and bashers, there are a lot of bad cops out there. But don’t paint them all bad. If you think your so much better then NYC cops, why don’t you become one? Don’t like super low starting wage? Not enough money to put your life at risk everyday? If all cops are thugs and would be thugs if they were not cops like so many of you claim then don’t you think it would be more lucrative for them to be thugs then earning the piss poor pay as an NYPD?

Jul. 30 2008 12:01 PM
Aaron from Brooklyn

This is the way some police behave all the time, in NY and elsewhere. It only comes to light when somebody is killed or in political activity. It is so common, filming it without an additional newsworthy context is not enough to get noticed. Even though only some police (more than a few bad apples) behave this way, we can not trust any of them about anything.

In minority communities the problem is much worse. It is understandable why many parents teach their children to be afraid of police.

If lying on documents for presentation in court were routinely prosecuted as perjury, we would find out how many police officers do it.

Jul. 30 2008 12:00 PM
Rolston Prescod from hackensack,nj

The cop is clearly "the perp" here,and should be delt with as such, why was this person singled out? who is the person that picks up the downed bicycle and takes off ? could this person be also complicit (5O) in targeting the downed rider? maybe C-Mass has beed infiltrated.

Jul. 30 2008 11:57 AM
JC from NYC

Doesn't anyone remember that that the city's harassment of Critical Mass started at the Republican Convention when the Mayor illegally suppressed their free speech? Critical Mass rides had gone on without problems for years and it was not until the Mayor needed to justify his curtailing of free speech activity that the City started to claim that Critical Mass was a danger to public welfare. This clearly is a continuation of the Mayor's shameful legacy from the Republican Convention.

Anyone who has ever left their apartment and seen the way construction sites are allowed to block streets and sidewalks for months on end knows that the City does not have an objection to blocking traffic only to inconveniencing traffic if it is connected to free speech activity.

Jul. 30 2008 11:55 AM
gregory from Manhattan

This officer needs to spend some time at Rikers - behind bars with other thugs of his ilk. He should be canned and prosecuted. If it were a civilian who tackled the biker, he'd have been arrested.
There is plenty wrong with a system that can't weed out a violence-prone cop. I don't feel safer under the 'protection' of creeps like officer Pogan.
"CPR" is a PR joke, the nypd is full of cowboys, and civil society-a quaint bygone notion- is a dream to persue elsewhere.

Jul. 30 2008 11:55 AM
Isaiah from Philadelphia

Just attended the Philadelphia Critical Mass for the first time. It's fun - good turnout but not too crowded, mostly nice people and all that -- but, like most CM rides, there are a few people who seem to only take pleasure in getting into as many confrontations as they can, antagonizing and even humiliating random drivers. I find it very hard to watch. Those drivers are strangers - they could be these riders' parents or siblings or friends.

I believe in the cause - the evolution towards safe, bikeable cities - but these means aren't justified by it. Hate comes from hate, love from love, I think.

Jul. 30 2008 11:55 AM
GTA Bath from brooklyn

perhaps that was just a "scenario"...arf!

Jul. 30 2008 11:54 AM
Laura from Brooklyn

This fight between Critical Mass and the NYPD is about the 1st Amendment. It is the last stand by protesters to protect the 1st Amendment and our right to free assembly. Forcing the bike riders to get permits and permission to gather denies our rights. That is why I ride every month under massive harassment and danger the NYPD put us in.

Jul. 30 2008 11:53 AM
Philip Cohen from UWS, Manhattan

I'm checking my email on my crackberry right now!

Jul. 30 2008 11:52 AM
hugh from New York

"Sorry, I wrote with so much emotion I almost did not make sense...my point, he decided to shove, he could have decided to shoot! Get this bully off of the streets!!"

He could have decided to throw a bomb! He could have decided to stab the rider with a knife!! He could have decided to run home, grabbed his SUV and run over the rider with it!!!!!

I know this is the internet where hysteria, hyperbole and assumptions rule but really, what the officer did was bad enough. There's no need to gild the lily by ratcheting up the "what ifs."

Jul. 30 2008 11:51 AM
G from Brooklyn

The is no real place for Bike riders in NYC. There is the west side Bike path and the many bike lanes throughout the buroughs. But realistically the bike lanes are shared space with cars. Especailly in Manhattan they are made futile as cars and trucks double park in them. There is very little respect and awareness for bike lanes and the riders.
Biking on side walks is illegal and and very bothersome to pedestrians. But lets put it into perspective. The force of hiting a pedestrian by a bike rider is much less damaging than the force of a bikerider being hit by a car.
Simply there is no viable/safe and relatively convenient way to bike in NYC.
Around the world there are many cities that respect bikes. Where bike lanes are not shared space with cars.
NYC has an awful standard and this action is just a exteme localized example of the general attitude our city has towards bikes and their riders.

Jul. 30 2008 11:49 AM
hjs from 11211

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said on Tuesday. “I have no understanding as to why that would happen.”

because they are highering cops at 25k. what kind of people would take 25k job, people with few other skills

Jul. 30 2008 11:49 AM
Carey from Jersey

If that biker ran a red light, then the cop could have stepped in front of him, put his hands up, used a whistle, and/or yelled "Stop, pull over", then he could have proceeded to give the cyclist a ticket.

Did he run a red light? Does this mean he should be assaulted?

Fire the cop.

Jul. 30 2008 11:47 AM
Christopher Deignan from Middle Village, Queens

I'd love to go on a critical mass ride but to be honest the heavy police presence puts me off. Bike riding in the city is one dangerous activity, I tried commuting by bike for the first time last week and had drivers honk their horn at me and miss me by inches as they sped past me. I admire the sheer bravery of commuting bikers, I fault many of them for dangerous cycling, especially those who ride at night without lights or reflective clothing. I also fault the city for not doing more to keep the roads in better condition, the number of potholes makes cycling particularly dangerous as it is often necessary to swerve to avoid them.

Jul. 30 2008 11:46 AM
Glenn from Manhattan

A cop ran a red light and I went to the hospital to have plates put in my face. The cops covered it up and threatened another cyclist witness who saw it. This was Nov. 2001 when the cops were still 'heroes'.

I think anyone on two wheels, motorized or not, is perceived as a renegade freedom rider and the cops dislike them as a potential threat to order. I used to ride a motorcycle also and the cops have even more disdain for them.

Jul. 30 2008 11:46 AM
Lara Kay from nyc

I work on Union Square and have observed first hand the police in action against CM. They are intimidating, taking over the entire area, throwing there weight aroound. Rather than provide safety, they create a sense of fear and loathing, at least in me. The CM rides always seemed like fun and created a festive mood before the cops started cracking dowwn.

There is a pattern here with the Bloomberg administration going back to the Republican convention. Not good.

Jul. 30 2008 11:46 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

This kid also lied on his complaint file under OATH!!! He should be made an example of, charged with assault, jailed, fined, fired and ordered to anger management!

Jul. 30 2008 11:46 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

@ #27 BORED.....they cover their badges as they did in the Tomkins Sq. riots!

That cop was a rookie!!!! He should be bounced and charged and go to jail. Those are not the people you want on a police force or any civil service job.

Jul. 30 2008 11:45 AM
chris

Police and the Mayor don't respect the right to assembly and they don't like losing control of the streets- that's why they have over reacted so much to these rides.

as to this specific cop- he's not a bad apple, just one the far end of typical cop behavior. nothing unique. who do you think these people are that become cops?

Jul. 30 2008 11:44 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

22 years old and on probation...jeez..how did he make it out of the academy?!!

Jul. 30 2008 11:44 AM
turt

why is every bike-hater so obsessed with this imaginary ambulance that is impeded by critical mass? every CM ride i've ever been on has yielded to fire trucks and ambulances, which is more than i can say for gridlocked cars.

Jul. 30 2008 11:44 AM
mark from New York

The police officer was wrong and should be punished.

And...

Critical Mass should be banned. It is a large group of arrogant, selfish and self-absorbed children who disrupt traffic and create hazardous conditions for drivers and pedestrians alike.

Jul. 30 2008 11:43 AM
sean from Prospect Heights

The cop is clearly out of hand, what he did is highly illegal. The cop could of killed someone.

Jul. 30 2008 11:43 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Sorry, I wrote with so much emotion I almost did not make sense...my point, he decided to shove, he could have decided to shoot! Get this bully off of the streets!!

Jul. 30 2008 11:43 AM
amt230

the largest issue is that our police force is corrupt

Jul. 30 2008 11:43 AM
Jon P. from Hewitt, NJ

The problem is you get drivers who don’t ride bikes. They don’t look around for bicyclists when driving or parking or opening their doors. As equally as much of a problem is bicyclists who have never had a driver’s license and driven a car. They don’t realize cars and more so trucks can’t stop on a dime. They also don’t realize cars and trucks have many blind spots so you can’t assume every driver can see you at all times.

Both sides need to be educated.

Jul. 30 2008 11:42 AM
Pres from Brooklyn

I ride with a bike organization every weekend and we have not have any trouble as of yet with the cops, We have more issues with drivers . We ride all over the city and the tri-state.

Jul. 30 2008 11:42 AM
KC from NYC

Denise: You're clearly not a civil libertarian, even though it's popular to call yourself one these days.

If I weren't almost hit by cars running red lights on a daily basis (often right in front of cops), I'd be a lot more inclined to believe the police actually gave a damn about public safety.

Jul. 30 2008 11:42 AM
the truth from Atlanta/New York

Clear cut case of assault on a citizen...abuse of power as per normal. WHAT IF.. the officer to decided to just shoot this kid instead? Huh? He lied on his report about the shove right? I am not at all surprised!

Jul. 30 2008 11:42 AM
Owen from Rochester

I think your anti-CM guest can't grasp the idea of a leaderless event. Does he really think there are masterminds of CM hiding behind "Orwellian" rhetoric?

The NYPD hates CM because it associates the bikers with protesters, which it equates with terrorists.

Jul. 30 2008 11:42 AM
Stephen from Lower Manhattan

The problem with Critical Mass is that the riders are very self-righteous and take a contemptuous view of motor vehicles. Although they have a valid point about the need for alternative, eco-friendly transportation, they undermine it by looking provoke a confrontation with drivers and cops. What is the point ultimately? Time's Up and the Mayor should meet halfway and work together to create long term solutions rather than wasting taxpayer money over these rides.

Where was Times' Up on congestion pricing?

Jul. 30 2008 11:41 AM
m from williamsburg

total brutality. critical mass is one of my favorite things in new york- i love it when i hear it, realize it's friday night, and see the bikes coming.

if the cars get the streets every other day of the month, why is it so terrible for bikes to have the streets for a couple of hours?

this city has TOO MANY CARS. they should NOT have the upper hand. bikes should have the lion's share of the road. make cars and trucks the second-class citizens.

Jul. 30 2008 11:41 AM
Enrique from Elizabeth NJ

AFTER THE RNC BRUTAL TACTICS, DO YOU STILL DOUBT THE CITY-POLICE TACTICS!!!????? LIKE GEORGE CARLIN SAID: "ALL WE HAVE IS A LIST OF PRIVILEGES; AND THE LIST IS GETTING SHORTER AND SHORTER"

Jul. 30 2008 11:40 AM
john from brooklyn

I have hundreds of people passing me by and shouting at me as if I am the reason of all their anger. Just let me get back at one of them... just one

Jul. 30 2008 11:40 AM
Kristi from new York

I've never been in a Critical Mass ride, but I'm a cyclist (yes, I follow the traffic laws) and the contempt and hostility I've experienced from the police in general has been unbelievable. I'm 47, white, professional, a woman, and I've always said that my experiences on a bike with the NYPD makes me totally believe that they really do target minorities.

Jul. 30 2008 11:40 AM
Donovan smith from Brooklyn

The current administrations stance toward bicycling is purely PR gloss. The police do not enforce the laws that infringe on bicycle commuters. Just last week I told a beat cop that a car driving in the bike lane almost hit me and was parked 45 feet away (still in the bike lane!) from us, and his response was "call 911".
Also take a look at
http://nyc.mybikelane.com/

Bicycle commuters need to stand up for their rights.

Jul. 30 2008 11:39 AM
mfs

Did Jim just say that crit mass's language is orwellian?

Jul. 30 2008 11:38 AM
Robert from NYC

That's right, they are traffic. I don't even ride a bike and I support them. I just hate the rogue riders who travel at full speed on the sidewalks and that's not Critical Mass.

Jul. 30 2008 11:38 AM
Hal from Crown Heights

I wonder how many bicyclists have been Poganed in the past that have not been documented.

Jul. 30 2008 11:38 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

I think the police's actions are wildly off base. At the same time these CM riders are equally wrong and totally baiting the situation.

Jul. 30 2008 11:37 AM
Denise from Brooklyn

Why would the police department be "hostile" to Critical Mass? Maybe because they're annoying, entitled, breaking the law, creating a danger, stopping emergency vehicles getting through? Give me a break. I'm a civil libertarian bike rider--and I think they ought to be thrown in jail.

Jul. 30 2008 11:37 AM
Jess from White Plains, NY

As a serious cyclist, I find Critical Mass obnoxious. It simply irritates and antagonizes people who don't share their (or my) love of cycling.

You know, just because we ride bikes doesn't somehow make us morally superior. So many cyclists I see are disobey traffic laws with impunity, and critical mass, so far as I've seen, encourages and enables this behavior. The behavior of so many cyclists does so much more to make the situation on the roads dangerous to all cyclists than one cop who went overboard.

Jul. 30 2008 11:37 AM
Pat Sullivan from Manhattan

What's the big deal here? If it was in fact true that the cop had to stop this rider because he was creating a hazard, how else would he do it? How else can an officer on foot stop a moving rider except by pushing him over? Without seeing the rider's behavior before this incident, we can't really judge what happened, but I don't find the shove itself that troubling.

Jul. 30 2008 11:37 AM
Robert from NYC

So what?! Have you ever been to Amsterdam where more often than not the pedestrian is confronted by bicycles en masse and that's just people riding their bikes instead of car around the city, i.e., it's normal there just lots and lots of folks riding thru the city on bikes as they do in cars. So what's the big deal with 50 bikes on the street at once? If they were on the sidewalks that would be different. It's a cultural thing, for goodness sake.

Jul. 30 2008 11:36 AM
Alison Brashaw from Manhattan

I am constantly amazed at the negligence of the police and public safety. My husband was riding in the bike lane and nearly hit by a vehicle. He saw two police standing there chatting nearby and approached them. He told them what happened and they laughed at him and told him to call 911 next time.

I thought the NYPD were supposed to protect the public I am amazed how often I see police do nothing about traffic violations.

Jul. 30 2008 11:36 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

It's not just Critical Mass. We have a Mayor and a Police Commissioner who reject the First Amendment of the Constitution. They deny the people the right to peaceably assemble -- whether in Central Park, or on the streets or in response to the War Party Convention.

We are STILL trying to find out what the NYPD and the Mayor were up to during the Republican National Convention. Same basic issue.

Jul. 30 2008 11:35 AM
Robert from Manhattan

I am a bike rider/commuter and I can tell you that cops are openly hostile toward cyclists on a daily basis. As a supporter of Mayor Bloomberg, I am once again dumbfounded by his hostility toward cyclist even as he works to increase cycling infrastructure. The message seems to be that if the cops don't like your political agenda, they are free to beat you down.

Jul. 30 2008 11:35 AM
John Huntington from brooklyn

The police in Brooklyn SUPPORT and ESCORT the same Critical Mass ride when it's in Brooklyn.

Jul. 30 2008 11:35 AM
Owen from Rochester

Critical Mass is a "protest rally"? C'mon, Brian. Critical Mass is a celebration of biking which can, admittedly, be annoying to a lot of people. But it's not a "protest." (For some reason the website wouldn't let me comment under the Critical Mass section.)

Oh, and that cop is a menace. He should be severely punished and maybe fired.

Jul. 30 2008 11:34 AM
mc from manhattan

Cops abuse power and lie to cover themselves all the time. Ask any minority.

Jul. 30 2008 11:34 AM
chris o from New York City

In this game of cat and mouse, it is obvious who is the predator and who is the prey.

Jul. 30 2008 11:34 AM
James from Nyack

Is this standard NYPD procedure? Why did the officer not raise his hand with the universal stop signal; a raised hand with an outstretched hand? And why did he not verbally yell stop?

This officer lied in his report and should be fired.

Serve and protect? Not!

Jul. 30 2008 11:34 AM
Taher from Croton on Hudson

The cop is a lier.

Jul. 30 2008 11:33 AM
BORED

Can you imagine what cops do when Video cameras are not around. This is why people are afraid of these meatheads.

Jul. 30 2008 11:33 AM
Steve (the other one) from Manhattan

Somebody tell Gov. Patterson that we could save a lot of money if the police didn't chase bicyclists with helicopters and SUVs. Why are our tax dollars being wasted?

Jul. 30 2008 11:33 AM
Thomas from NYC

And you know what is the best part? The biker will sue NYPD and win, be awarded a large sum of money, all at the tax-payers' expense. Brilliant.

Jul. 30 2008 11:33 AM
KC from NYC

Ray Kelly will be running for mayor soon, and Bloomberg will be endorsing him.

Let's keep this (and the RNC fiasco, and the Bell shooting) in mind when that happens.

Jul. 30 2008 11:33 AM
Mike from nyc

What about the other cop behind the attacker? Is he going to be held responsible?

Jul. 30 2008 11:33 AM
hjs from 11211

this is not anything new.
the difference was the videotape. police often abuse their power.

Jul. 30 2008 11:32 AM
Accra Shepp from Queens

In Chicago Critical Mass has a very pleasant relationship with the police. I lived in Chicago for five years (2001-2006) and I rode in two or three rides and witnessed many more. There were police watching and no one seemed antagonistic. It's probably not a perfect relationship but, during my last ride I met an undercover police officer who was there off-duty because he liked riding bikes!

Jul. 30 2008 11:32 AM
O from Forest Hills

Thank you #17.

Jul. 30 2008 11:32 AM
anthony clune from Brooklyn

Brian,

More than a "shove." He DECKED the rider. He could have been killed. Simply a bully with power.

I am a huge supporter of the NYPD and their work.

Why were the cops standing there in the first place?

Jul. 30 2008 11:31 AM
O from Forest Hills

#15
All "facts" are considered allegations and not proven fact until decided in a court so that is why Brian is using the "seems to show" language, the facts are still being determined in this which is a case of assault or battery. It hasn't been decided what the facts are by a judge or a jury.

Jul. 30 2008 11:31 AM
nat from brooklyn

O: Critical Mass is what the riders make of it. For some its just a fun ride with other cyclists. For others its a political and environmental statement.

It is an unorganized ride, with the only planning being the meet up and start time.

There is no organization with a mission sponsoring these rides. They happen in cities throughout the world form San Francisco to Budapest.

Jul. 30 2008 11:31 AM
Robert from NYC

I've said it before here and everywhere and I'll say it again, many, MANY who are cops would be on the opposite side of the law IF they were not cops. They do have authoritarian, almost fascist attitudes and abuse power behind the badge they wear. And Ray Kelly, a favorite on this show, supports the criminal abuses his guys and gals do.

Jul. 30 2008 11:29 AM
Hugh from Crown Heights

It MUST be said that -- were it not for the video -- we would either have NEVER heard about this, or Mayor Bloomberg, Commissioner Kelly and others would have joined forces to tell us why the NYPD did nothing wrong and how Critical Mass is a bunch of terrorists or worse.

When will Bloomberg or Kelly or the NYPD ever admit their wrongdoing.

And what does Mr. Lehrer mean by "seems to show", it's clear police violence.

Jul. 30 2008 11:29 AM
Vin from Manhattan

As a bicycle messenger (now retired) for seven years, I will tell you this is not unique. I have been harassed by cops. I can tell you stories about the RNCon -- I think police thought messengers were protesters. How stupid do you have to be not to be able to tell if somebody is or is not a working guy on the road... These cops are mostly suburbanites with contempt for city dwellers.

As a working bicyclist, I had developed various techniques to avoid the cops. The street environment makes messengers ride the way they do. That includes the cops, pedestrians and all other traffic. When a lot more inexperienced bikers get on the street watch casualties rise, and the cops will get even more POed.

Jul. 30 2008 11:27 AM
O from Forest Hills

What is the purpose of critical mass? Are they making a political statement or environmental?

This is my first time hearing of critical mass bike rides.

Jul. 30 2008 11:26 AM
GTA Bath from brooklyn

Can someone link to some info on the reaction of the police to this?

Yes, i think the brazeness (?) of this is what is really telling. Some cops, discretely, do bad things- probably inveitable to an extent. This guy seemed to not even to mind that he did this in the middle of time square in full public view. Very telling about a the attitude of the police and their sense of impunity and disdain for the public. I always have a chuckle to myself when i see those slogans on the cars...they say north americans don't do irony...

Jul. 30 2008 11:23 AM
Steve from Brooklyn

That cop was way out of line. If that's not an assault than what is? I'm a cyclist in the city and have sensed an inexplicable hostility to cyclists around NYC.

However, I've also considered joining Critical Mass, until I realized Critical Mass appears to be a protest centered around protesting the last protest. If its intention is to "raise awareness" and influence public opinion, then why must it do so in exactly the manner that will turn public opinion against cyclists? Serious protest organizers must consider how they're actions will be viewed by the general public. Annoying everyone, helps no one.

Jul. 30 2008 11:20 AM
Alyson from Atlanta

I ride critical mass in Atlanta, and we have been having major problems with cops lately too. In June we were blockaded by 8 cops on motorcycles who rushed by us with sirens blaring. Cops in cars also got dangerously close to kids on bikes and used intimidation to shut us down. At least two people were knocked off their bikes by aggressive cops who didn't like that 100s of bikes were in the street (and knowingly running red lights). Anyone who got off their bike was ticketed.

What I can't understand is the people who shout at us to "get on the sidewalk" or just get angry.

I think critical mass is more important than ever because the popularity of bikes is growing and we, the cyclists, need to assert our presence and get car drivers to recognize our equality on the streets. If more cities had bike lanes or friendlier streets, maybe we would not need confrotational demonstrations, but until the average jane feels comfortable ridign her bike, WE NEED CRITICAL MASS.

Jul. 30 2008 11:19 AM
GP Cyclist from Greenpoint

Re: GTA Bath

Oh, didn't you know? The police are exempt from obeying the laws they are paid to enforce.

Jul. 30 2008 11:15 AM
exlege from brooklyn

What is equally disturbing as the actual assault by the officer is the false charge that was concocted by the officer to unlawfully arrest the victim. How many times has the NYPD falsely arrested residents of the City because the officer in question was having a bad day or felt like picking someone out of a crowd as in this case. The officer got caught in a lie because the incident happened to be taped. I suspect this happens more often than the NYPD would like to admit. It is revealing how brazen the officer was as he conducted this assault in full view of the crowds, knowing that he had nothing to fear. If this was one bad apple as I am sure the NYPD brass will argue, I doubt a beat cop would feel so comfortable assaulting a completley innocent victim in broad view of the public. I won't say all NYPD are like this, but this is not an isolated incident.

Jul. 30 2008 11:14 AM
Rochelle from White Plains

It is so frightening to me that three weeks into the job, this kid has this much anger and feels so full of himself to do this. What does he do after three months, three years or three decades in uniform? When there is real danger? And this is his assault on someone doing absolutely nothing wrong! But having finished the police academy, they will probably stand behind this jerk and try to keep him on the job. He is a loaded gun waiting to go off and should be fired immediately. And his father is proud -- what an embarrassment.

Jul. 30 2008 11:12 AM
GTA Bath from brooklyn

That's ridiculous- what's he doing jaywalking in the middle of the street anyways?

Jul. 30 2008 11:05 AM
nat from brooklyn

I have ridden in Critical Mass dozens of times, since 2002. The rides that took place before the RNC in 2004 were the very embodiment of the positivity and diversity of New York cyclists, young and old, parents riding with their children. In those days, the police were with smiles and waves. NY's finest escorted the ride as it weaved through the streets of Manhattan.

The NYPD has elected to overreact by arresting cyclists for violations that they would never arrest a driver for. Can you imagine a car driver being arrested and their vehicle impounded for running a red light?

This is by no means the first incident of this type. Cmdr Bruce Smolka pulled a legal observer off of her bike, by the lock around her waist. CBS reported that she recently recieved $37k. During the RNC a rider was accused of assaulting an officer. Familiarly, video showed, that she was pushed off of her bike by a police officer. There are dozens of stories like this.

The role of the NYPD in all of this, and the public cost of these overreactions is unacceptable. Do we really need to spend money on special police details, the cost of processing false arrests with dropped charges, and the lawsuits. Furthermore, with the large number of court documented falsified police reports, we must ask who are they protecting and serving?

Jul. 30 2008 10:46 AM
O from Forest Hills

That's horrible the other officers described pogan as a hero, between this and the violence from the Sean Bell incident, the police brutality needs to be addressed.

I think there is some defense the police officer will try to use. My teacher was so good looking I remember his sexy voice and exotic blue eyes but nothing else from school.

It is time for the police to live up to what they say, Courtesy, Professionalism and Respect that is their logo on their cars.

Jul. 30 2008 10:35 AM
peter from manhatten

needless to say that cop has to go. what disturbed me even more was the comments i read from other police online which again and again described this brutal act as 'beautiful' and pogan as a hero.

Jul. 30 2008 10:17 AM
O from Forest Hills

Police officers are not exempt from assault based on their status.

Jul. 30 2008 10:09 AM
Peter from Park Slope

That cop is a criminal and should be in jail on assault charges. He is a danger to the citizens of NY and is no different than a gang banger. Can't wait to see how his union and the mayor will talk their way out of this one.

Jul. 30 2008 10:06 AM

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