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Critical Mass

Crimanimalz Create Traffic Jams to Protest Santa Monica Police

8:30 AM PDT on August 12, 2008

Responding to the over-policing of Critical Mass in Santa Monica, cyclists took to the streets last Friday night to show the SMPD that sometimes following the letter of the law is the worst thing that can be done for traffic.  In what MetBlogs described as an act of "Civil Obedience" 60 cyclists got off their bikes and walked them across an intersection.  And walked them back across the intersection.  And then, they crossed the intersection.  When they were done, they crossed the intersection again.

The result was while cyclists paraded back and forth across an intersection, blocking traffic, handing out fliers, but apparently breaking no laws, traffic backed up for blocks.  Eventually the SMPD arrived at the scene, but by then the cyclists had scattered to another intersection in another part of town.  Watching the video, I did note that the walkazz did let buses go through and eventually cars just drove around the demonstration.

Alex Thompson has a full recap of the event and the history between SMPD and Critical Mass over at Westside BikeSIDE!.

It occasionally got ugly.  One motorist got out of his car, to argue
with the Crimanimalz, and ended up in a 7 to 1 shouting match.  All
night there were spates of ugliness, shouting matches that likely would
have come to blows had the group of cyclists had a numerical
advantage.  It wasn’t just motorists doing the yelling - at times there
was a healthy dose of angry shouting from cyclists.

What do you expect?  Santa Monica residents have sicked their police force on cyclists like an angry guard dog.  The city has assigned 14 officers, on an overtime basis, to follow the ride each month, for 14 months. 
The SMPD made no effort to contact riders at anytime before or during
their 14 month campaign to eliminate the ride.  Officers stand apart at
the ride, refuse to talk to riders and train spotlights and video
cameras on their faces.

Reaction around the Internet has been mixed thus far.  One commenter at Thompson's blog exclaimed that the "Revolution will be on feet!" while another lamented that, "Those 50 bikers that blocked traffic make it worse for ME when I bike to work." 

 

Do events such as this escalate the conflicts between cyclists and drivers, or is it a peaceful way for cyclists to get their message across?

Video by thepeoplesride

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