Help Put an End to Parade Rules and Police Tactics That Target Cyclists

critical_mass_arrests.jpgLast Friday’s assault on a Critical Mass rider — and the attempted cover-up that followed — has heightened public attention on police misconduct against cyclists. If you, or some other cyclist you know, have been the subject of selective enforcement or inappropriate police action, lawyers from the Five Borough Bike Club would like to hear your story. They can be reached at [lawsuitinfo] [at] [5BBC] [dot] [org], and their deadline is Friday, August 8. Here are the details:

Time is running out. The Five Borough Bike Club and several others are plaintiffs in a lawsuit which challenges New York City’s attempts to suppress Critical Mass rides. The Court has given us an August 8 deadline to gather information concerning summonses, arrests and other NYPD action against bicyclists. For those of you who don’t know, the suit challenges the constitutionality of recently implemented rules that require a group of 50 or more to obtain an NYPD permit before proceeding together (the "Parade Permit Rules"). The suit also challenges various other tactics that NYPD uses to target and suppress Critical Mass rides. Details on how to provide information you believe may be helpful are provided at the end of this post.

So far, we have already gathered evidence of unlawful conduct by the NYPD, including evidence which shows that:

  • NYPD "profiles" suspected Critical Mass participants for selective enforcement of the law as they ride their bikes individually in the vicinity of Union Square prior to the start of the ride, as shown in this video.
  • NYPD tickets cyclists during these "profiling" operations and points to them as proof of Critical Mass’s lawlessness, even when the summonses were issued on evenings when no Critical Mass ride took place and/or for violations which are not relevant to bicyclists, such as "no seatbelt" [download a summary of these tactics].
  • NYPD has systematically arrested and summonsed Critical Mass participants without any valid basis. The charges frequently have been dismissed.
  • NYPD officers have repeatedly used excessive and dangerous force against Critical Mass participants.

As one NYPD officer candidly told a Critical Mass bicyclist while ticketing him for an equipment violation, the policy of selective and unlawful enforcement was triggered by the August 2004 Critical Mass bicyclists’ protests against the Republican National Convention. We contend that such protest activities provide no lawful reasons to establish the 50-person limit on public processions, or to suppress or selectively enforce the law against Critical Mass month after month [download].

The Court requires us to collect all relevant documents, photographs and videotape by August 8, 2008. If you believe you have evidence that is relevant to the suit, we ask that you send it to us.

This is not an offer to provide individuals with lawyers or legal representation. We request that you voluntarily provide information for use as evidence in the lawsuit. If you can help, please send us a brief email describing the information you have, and including a daytime phone number where you can be reached and/or an email address, to: [lawsuitinfo] [at] [5BBC] [dot] [org]. Please contact us about the lawsuit only through this email address.

Thanks so much for your help and support.

Best regards,
5BBC

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Cops on Scooters Trail Greenway Cyclists

|
May’s Bike Month Critical Mass reportedly drew more participants than usual, and NYPD responded by handing out a passel of trumped-up summonses. No surprise there, but as this video (from glassbeadian via Gothamist) shows, officers on scooters went so far as to follow riders down the Hudson River Greenway. Barbara Ross of Time’s Up thinks […]

Friday Ride Yields Mass Police, Media Coverage

|
Up to 200 cyclists gathered Friday evening for the first Critical Mass since the city law took effect limiting unpermitted bike rides and other public events to fewer than 50 people. With all the professional and citizen journalists on-hand to witness the "showdown" between cyclists and the NYPD, one wonders if the restriction might be […]

Manhattan Bike Lanes, Brooklyn Bike-Share, City Bike Law

|
Coinciding with the beginning of spring, this week’s calendar is all about the bikes. DOT will unveil plans for the northward expansion of Eighth and Ninth Avenue bike lanes, while there are three bike-share events on tap in Brooklyn. The week is capped by a session on bike laws with attorney Steve Vaccaro. Tuesday: TLC […]

City Hall Announces NYPD Crackdown on Drivers Who Endanger Cyclists

|
NYPD will crack down this week on motorists who put cyclists at risk. The “Bicycle Safe Passage Initiative,” which coincides with Bike to Work Week, will last through Friday. Officers in precincts citywide will focus enforcement on motorists who commit traffic violations that “endanger bicyclists,” according to a City Hall press release. Traffic enforcement agents will concentrate […]