Suggestions for Cop Problems at Critical Mass

  1. Turn every 3 or 4 blocks. The cops (usually) can't keep track of you and maneuver their cars fast enough to get in front and stop the mass. Make a U-turn on a street with a concrete divider, to make it hard for them to follow. These techniques were used to defeat cop harassment of SFCM.
  2. Let riders know to bring as many videocameras as you can. Videotape police actions, call out badge and car numbers to document a pattern of harassment.
  3. Wave and smile to pedestrains and others. A fun, friendly mass attracts more people, and gives you more support.
  4. File complaints with your local police complaint department (usually a citizens' run agency) for anything you possibly can: police harassment, civil rights infringement (right to assemble), foul language, issuing unlawful police orders (ride your bike on the sidewalk), excessive use of force, etc.
  5. On wide streets, consider using only 1 or 2 lanes on a street with 2 or 3 lanes with smaller groups such as 150 riders, so they can't accuse you of "blocking traffic".
  6. Don't ride into tight alleys: you risk getting blocked off at both ends and mass arrested.
  7. (A favorite of mine.) Print in LARGE BOLD LETTERS on letter-size paper, landscape layout short slogans like "Stop Police Harassment", "Biking is NOT a Crime", "Overtime and Bust", "Bad Cop, No Donut", "SHAME", "You're Embarassing Yourselves". Have two or 3 people hold onto 20 or 30 of these at a time. If/when the cops stop you, these 2 or 3 people can quickly pass one out to other bikers, and tell them to hold the signs over their heads. A good "shame, shame" chant is a classic as well.
  8. On a flyer or email list, organize a call-in DAY to city councilmembers to complain about police harassment and brutality of cyclists at critical mass. Always refer to it as a community bike ride, and first amendment event. (To give you extra legal protection.) A call-in to city councilmembers was very effective in San Francisco.
  9. NEVER trust the local corporate TV or newspaper media. You'll have a better chance just dealing with small community papers.
  10. Get lots of bicyclists to show up at night and complain or speak during regular public police review commission hearings.And remember: YOU ARE NOT BLOCKING TRAFFIC, YOU ARE TRAFFIC!

    If the police say you are blocking traffic, then they are exhibiting the same bias towards bicyclsts that you are trying to overcome. Always insist that YOU ARE TRAFFIC.

    You will win,