The police riot at last week's A22 Bush Protest outraged many people in Portland and around the U.S. Mayor Vera Katz delivered her response on Friday by subjecting Critical Mass riders to pepperspray and police violence. With this choice, she has made it clear that she stands with tyranny and against freedom. Katz's track record of affronts against civil liberties includes the Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Sit-Lie-Stand Ordinance, and the humiliation of Dignity Village. Her committed opposition to basic human decency has never been more obvious. She is a disgrace to the caring, progressive, justice-seeking people of this city and if she had a shred of honor, she would step down. In my book, Katz is more dangerous than Dubya; her brand of petty fascism is endorsed by the clueless liberals of the Democratic Party, whose only difference with the Republicans is that they kiss you before they fuck you over. It's time for you to resign, Vera, and take that thug Police Chief Kroeker with you. |
800+ riders showed up for this Friday's Critical Mass, the biggest of the year so far. Just before arriving, we heard over the police scanner that the cops were bringing vans and pepperspray. We figured that the city was somehow planning "revenge" for the victory that the people of Portland enjoyed on A22, which sent positive ripples out across the nation. And while the city certainly tried to use the cops against us -- and certain cops were brutally dedicated to the cause -- the Critical Mass was not deterred.
At the Burnside Bridge, police officers were on the scene handing out flyers:
It is important that riders respect the safety buffer around officers conducting a traffic stop. Oregon Revised Statute allows officers to order people back 10 feet if they are interfering with a police action. If so ordered, move back immediately.
- This flyer is intended to let participants in the montly Critical Mass ride of August 30, 2002 know that the Portland Police Bureau will again be taking enforcement action for violations of the Oregon Criminal, City and Vehicle Codes.
- This action has been necessitated by a steady deterioration in the conduct of the ride that has negatively impacted not only traffic but also the physical safety of both bicycle riders and motorists. This deterioration has been documented in 911 calss for service and police reports.
- Enforcement action will be taking place throughout the City of Portland.
- We will be particularly concerned with major moving violations that include, but are not limited to: disobeying a traffic control device (corking) and illegal lane use (riding down the wrong side of the street).
I'd never been flyered by a cop before. It was a little amusing. I asked the officers -- Ragona, Jones and Elias -- where the order had come from. "The upper echelons," one of them said, and claimed not to know any more. (He probably didn't.)
The Mass took off later than usual -- more people seems to make for a slower start -- and was attacked by cops about four blocks later. I lost track of all the stops and arrests and citations that occured over the evening, but a few of them were quite intense.
This young woman was shoved down onto the ground very hard by this officer, whose nametag said "Larson". He pushed her damn hard, and her bike helmet probably saved her from serious injury. In the picture above, he has just gotten done telling her, "if you don't move back, I'll knock you on your keester again." Someone from the crowd said, "Is that a threat? Are you threatening her?" Larson looked right at him and said, "Yes, I am." Larson is a threat to public safety and should be removed from the force. Will Kroeker or Katz act in favor of the people of Portland and do so? It's doubtful, considering how corrupt and immoral they both are.
The police cuffed at least two people here, on Madison between 6th and Broadway, up around the corner from City Hall. Look kids, it's Kermit the Frog. Nobody's safe from Vera and her boys in blue. This was also the stop where the cops drove a cruiser and a motorcycle right into the crowd of bikes with wanton recklessness, just like they did on A22. If a civilian did that it would be assault with a deadly weapon or attempted murder. With the cops, it's "keeping order". The number of double-standards seems to grow every day. Thanks, Vera.
One of the other people arrested in the same place.
Pepperspray at the ready.
More pepperspray at the ready.
This young man was peppersprayed in the face at Second and Oak. He was in quite a bit of pain here, and couldn't open his eyes yet. What was he doing? Just standing there, doing nothing, while the cops wrote up tickets. One of the cops went nuts and started spraying people. His nametag said, "Barnum". He's another person who needs a different job. Police work isn't for people who have anger management issues. Neither is the mayor's office. Get out, Vera.
Each time the cops arrested and cuffed someone I watched carefully and never saw anything that justified the brutal treatment that people were getting. There's definitely some malice involved. The cops just don't like certain kinds of people and enjoy beating them up, spraying them, and shoving their faces into the concrete. That's fucking sick, that they feel that way, and that taxes pay for them to do it.
What was this person cited for? Doesn't really matter what the ticket says -- he was hassled for Not Driving A Car. The addiction that is car culture runs so deep in the collective psyche that treatment like this is not considered the travesty that it is outside a small group of people. Of course it doesn't help that the corporate media rarely reports this sort of abuse, and when they do they take a pro-cop/anti-activist stance and call it objective. Auto-addiction is a serious disease. Like any addiction, it fosters selfishness and a serious lack of perspective in the people who have it. On this site I saw a driver threaten a cyclist's life because the cyclist was saying he liked to slow down car traffic. I myself was almost hit by cars twice in the last 24 hours. Would cops have peppersprayed either of the drivers if they'd seen it happen? Not that I would want them to -- no one should have to deal with that shit -- but you know they never would. Blocking car traffic once a month is no big deal. It's a pathetically small rebellion, really, when you consider how destructive cars are to our ecological and social environments, and yet this Friday it was an action that Mayor Katz saw fit to attack brutally.
This is Officer McGrath. He was videotaping at one (and maybe more) of the citation stops.
Here's an officer who really ought to know better than to join the oppressors, considering the racial disparities in profiling, ticketing, sentencing, incarceration, and the death penalty. Sad to see.
I spoke with two officers about the Mass and its events. I asked one if he thought the flyer they handed out was going to work and he said, no, and called it "bullshit". I asked him what he thought about pepperspray and he described it as "very effective". But it wasn't effective, I said -- it didn't stop the Mass. He replied that it wasn't supposed to stop the Mass, but that it was very effective for when the level of force reaches that level, i.e., if someone was resisting arrest. Though not a witness, he claimed that the person peppersprayed must have been doing so. That's not true at all, of course, but it was interesting to find out that he didn't have the facts down but had made up a narrative that justified the use of force. I suppose that's probably part of cop training.
The second officer approached me and asked me: "Have you told Vera how disgusted you are by this?" Not yet, I told him, but I'll be doing do tonight. He nodded. "I'd much rather be doing something else," he said. I shared with him that I had been wondering along the ride if there were any calls for domestic violence or other important matters that were going unanswered because of all the cops assigned to the ride. "That's a good question," this cop said. He was clearly not in favor of the decision to put so many cops on the Mass. Perhaps he noticed that a lot more traffic was tied up by cop cars and motorcycles than would've been had the bikes been left on their own. It was cool to talk to a cop and find that skepticism there, and also the blame being put on Vera. I'll not print his name here as I appreciated his candor and don't want to see him take any flak for it. We need for more cops to speak out like that. Of course, he could've been pulling my leg. I'll probably never know.
That many drivers would think nothing of the tactics used against Critical Mass shows the disgusting sickness of our society. The priority given cars over other forms of transportation -- and over life itself -- makes me think in my more cynical moments that our whole culture is irredeemable. Every day I am almost hit by a car at least once, and not while doing anything unusual. In fact, I am probably more cautious than most people; I know drivers can't be trusted by and large. The whole set-up makes me very angry. I love Critical Mass. And Vera's not going to take it away from me, or from the Portland community. Friday's hard-handed and unnecessary tactics did not stop the Mass this month, and they won't next month.
RIDE WILD AND FREE!!