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Police Crack Down on Monthly Bike Protest

Monday, March 28, 2005

Bicyclists participating in the monthly Critical Mass rides accused the police of trying to suppress their protests.

Police arrested 37 people involved in Friday night's ride and charged them with disorderly conduct. The also seized 50 bicycles that were locked nearby. The group's lawyer, Norman Seigal, said the seizures were illegal, but police said only bikes that violated city law were seized.

About 200 people attended the rally.

The city had filed a complaint seeking to require permits for a monthly bicycle rally through Manhattan that has brought automobile traffic to a standstill. Summonses were issued last Tuesday to four participants in the Critical Mass ride, ordering them to respond to the complaint.

The city wants to require permits for use of city streets and of Union Square, the rally's starting point, and to bar participants from publicizing the ride.

The event - held the last Friday of each month in Manhattan - gained notoriety last summer, when police made dozens of arrests at a ride held several days before the start of the Republican National Convention.

Last December, the city filed a lawsuit to require cyclists to obtain parade permits, saying the rides threaten public safety by creating traffic chaos. But a federal judge dismissed the case, saying the issue should be resolved in state court.

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