The calm and civility that has long been the hallmark of Portland’s Critical Mass ride was shattered last Friday. According to a report and photos on Indymedia there were several arrests that got out of hand.
As usual, there are several different accounts of what happened. One says the riders instigated the arrests with their disrespect of the police and the law, while another side says the treatment from the cops was totally out of line and unprovoked.
After the fracas, the ride regrouped and continued on without incident.
Unfortunately I wasn’t on the ride so I can’t relay my perspective. However, I can say that I have lived on both sides of this equation. On past rides I have had heated disagreements with the cops and have advocated for them to leave the ride alone.
At the same time, as many of you know, I have built relationships with several members of the Traffic Division and I have worked with others in the bike community to turn these relationships into a better understanding of cyclists and Critical Mass in general.
Ironically, I have also been contacted by several media people and advocates from other states wondering how our Critical Mass has become so peaceful.
However, despite all the warm and fuzzy PR, Critical Mass remains a complicated and volatile issue, even in the most bike-friendly big city in America. More thoughts to come…