Opposition Mounts to NYPD Assembly Rules; Rally Tonight

As the City Council takes up legislation to lift NYPD rules against public assembly, cyclists and advocates will hold a rally and press conference before tonight’s Critical Mass ride.

From BikeBlog:

Critical Mass participants will be joined by a diverse group of videographers, artists, activists and politicians outraged over NYPD regulatory constraints on the civil liberties of New Yorkers. Prominent speakers from the community will participate in the "Still We Speak" rally to denounce the NYPD’s First Amendment abuses, including the parade permit rules which limit the number of people who can legally assemble in a public place.

In addition to the council bill, the police department also faces a suit brought by the Five Borough Bike Club. For you legal types, here is a plaintiff’s motion citing arbitrary and discriminatory enforcement by the NYPD, as illustrated in the video, along with notes and summonses from the July 2007 Critical Mass. In footage to be shown at tonight’s event, officers are seen roughing up and detaining citizens for taking pictures and video of police action in Times Square during the March 2007 ride.

Tonight’s events start at Union Square North at 7:00 p.m.

Video: rusticumjudicium/YouTube

  • All the documents in the 5bbc et al. vs. City of New York case that challenges the NYPD’s parade rules are available for viewing at http://5bbc.org/parade/

  • Dave H.

    I don’t really understand what this video is. It’s a bunch of cops selectively harassing bicyclists – but is it connection with Critical Mass? Was an explanation given? Who is filming? When did this take place (judging by clothing, it was in summer)?

  • Dave H.,

    The video depicts a checkpoint that for the last year or two NYPD has maintained on Broadway at 19th Street (just north of Union Square) on the last Friday of the month, during the two hours prior to the start of Critical Mass. The video was made by a citizen activist on July 27, 2007, at approximately 6:30 pm.

    As you say, it shows the cops selectively harassing bicyclists. Even more troubling, NYPD characterizes the ticekts given out at these pre-CM checkpoints as violations occuring “during” Critical Mass. Go to page 5 of the pdf linked in the post to the phrase “notes and summonses” to see what I mean.

    The actual tickets out on July 27 (which came later in the pdf) show that about half of them are for riding outside of the bike lane on Broadway at 19th Street, prior to 7 pm. If you read the second page of the memo (page 6 of the pdf), you see that some of these supposed Critical Mass tickets were for urinating in public or no seatbelt. Obviously, these have nothing to do with Critical Mass or bicycling.

    Yet every month, NYPD runs its pre-CM checkpoint, profiles and tickets individual bicyclists, and then puts it all together in a report falsely proclaiming that CM is responsible, presumably to justify continued suppression of Critical Mass.

  • ddartley

    The contents of the video alone don’t PROVE any accusations against NYPD (you can’t hear what anyone’s saying, for one thing), but any NYC cyclist who knows anything about the history of recent years’ Critical Mass would feel pretty confident in interpreting the police activity in the video as unfair bullying. WWWHHHHYYYYYY, for instance, do they not apprehend the cyclists riding the wrong way up Broadway? Oh, is that legal?

    You can’t be SURE from just watching the video, but it sure appears to be flagrantly discriminatory enforcement.

    Makes me very nervous, because that’s part of my regular weekday commute, and as someone who tries to do a lot to boost respect for cyclists on our streets–but does NOT participate in Critical Mass–I would be driven nuts with anger if I were ticketed at that checkpoint for simply commuting home.

    Man, I got disgusted by the way too many Critical Mass participants behaved–so disgusted that I swore off riding in it for good. But NYPD’s way of dealing with CM was so illegitimate and abusive that NYPD made it easy for me to come down on the side of CM riders, and even vocally defend them, despite my antipathy for their behavior–it wasn’t as bad or dangerous as the cops’.

  • BicyclesOnly

    I’m glad NYPD finally has identified the threat posed by urinating Critical Mass bicyclists. This threat to public order and safety has gone unaddressed for far too long, and more than justifies the millions spent for cop OT, community affairs and helicopter backup, and all the other costs of “policing” this event.

  • LN

    I’ve ridden many a critical mass, including last nights. Started very late at another location and was entirely cop-free and fun even.

    Urinating in public? never saw that on any of the CMasses I was in, do they do it while still on the bike? Can we go to the video tape please? I want to see that. Plus can I see the bikes with seatbelts too. Cool!

  • JT

    its completely true. I’ve never ridden critical mass but have been given a summons once and stopped and questioned another time when commuting home. I go completely out of my way the last friday of each month to avoid b’way and 20th/19th and union square because of the police harassment.

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