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The ‘bike swarm’ is back: Ride planned to support N17 actions

Posted by on November 16th, 2011 at 10:04 am

Occu-bike.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Tomorrow’s ‘N17 – Occupy the Banks‘ actions of civil disobedience throughout downtown Portland can count on an assist from a cadre of people on bikes. A ride dubbed ‘Swarm the Banks‘ will look to play a similar role to the ‘bike swarm’ that made its presence felt at the big standoff at Chapman and Lownsdale Squares this past Sunday.

Here’s a snip from the ride description:

“As busy bees, we can fly through downtown and check up on the various actions of nonviolent civil disobedience, protect the march with our buzzing mobility, serve as a pesky distraction for cops seeking to break up the actions, and possibly even participate in actions if we need to rest our wings for a bit.”

Katherine Ball, seen here at
Occupy Portland standoff early
Sunday morning.

This ride was conceived by Katherine Ball, the same woman who spearheaded the very successful ‘bike swarm’. Ball was recently featured in a column by Steve Duin in The Oregonian. As someone who rode with Ball at Sunday’s standoff, I can attest to her positive approach and infectious enthusiasm for this movement.

To join Thursday’s bike swarm, meet at Salmon Street Fountain at 10:45 am. There will be an open discussion prior to the ride “to determine our exact tactics”. More info on the Shift calendar or on the Facebook event page.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Nick V
Guest

Or…….you could make a more effective statement by not doing business with the bad guy big banks and not pouring money into big corporations.

Cyclists want to be accepted into the mainstream at least in terms of not being yelled at or run off the road, but then we also want to be pests to police and bystanders who are not even involved (and don’t want to be involved) in these protests???

You can’t have everything.

John S
Guest
John S

No ! Don’t lump cyclists into this Occupy Thing, aka “lets see how much damage and extra money we can cost the city”.

jon
Guest
jon

This just makes bike riding a political message, maybe thats what some want but I think it would be better to go with “Make Bikes Normal” as in what you see in Europe where its not political or a small group, its just normal for all.

rain bike
Guest
rain bike

Contrary to what this ride description seems to imply, the police are not the enemy, bent on breaking up lawful actions or repressing free speech.

J-R
Guest
J-R

Occupy Portland lost support when criminality started becoming the norm. Bicyclists will lose more respect if swarming interfers with people not doing business with the targetted banks.

I think stopping your business with banks is the preferred form of protest of their practices. If you want to interfere with other bank customers, I’d rather you were not identified as a bicyclist. That’s because I’m a bicyclist and my kids are too. I don’t want a pissed off bank customer-motorist deciding to retaliate for what was done to him.

Go occupy a bank and get arrested if you like, but please leave your bike at home.

hank ferguson
Guest
hank ferguson

I was in the swarm the other night and can say that the riders did not do any damage, can you give me one example.

are
Guest

what i hear in some of these objections could be rephrased roughly as follows:

people who want to support N17, and/or the “we are oregon” rally on steel bridge, and/or occupyPDX, can do what they want, but if you show up on a bike and participate in some kind of support action that involves a bike, then you are putting at risk an incremental mainstreaming of the bicycle as transportation, because of a perception the presence of the bicycle in this kind of action will create among whoever it is that has the ability to allow or disallow that mainstreaming.

[i have worked to cast this in neutral, objective language, because i do not want to deconstruct a strawman.]

in other words, you do something on a bike, other than travel from here to there, bright clothing and lights, signaling your turns and lane changes, stopping at the stops, it will have consequences for me, because some faceless “motorist” will associate your behavior with mine.

i will continue to insist that this is slave mentality, appeasing the overlord. i take responsibility only for my own behavior.

if the objection is jonathan’s coverage of this stuff, i would suggest that very few if any people object to his coverage of costumed rides, cross races, craft fairs, etc., none of which have much to do with my getting from here to there. his subject is people on bikes doing what people do on bikes. this falls squarely within that category.

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

“Police estimated that they spent $450000 over the weekend on officer overtime”

Damage to the city coffers to the extent that a portion of it could be attributed to the “swarm” to protect / support what actually boiled down to the right to camp in a public park and not conducive to the larger message that the Thursday action actually supports.

sw resident
Guest
sw resident

The average salary for a bank teller in Portland is $39k. The average salary for a bank manager in Portland is $59k. A Stumptown coffee manager’s average salary is $73k, a barista makes $47k+.
Could the banks pay a higher wage? They can and they should to keep up with inflation and to preserve the middle class. A cynic would say they should just get a job at Stumptown.

Consider this: The middle-aged bank-teller lady from Gresham who is just trying to get through her day will probably not enjoy a bunch of people yelling or clogging up the bank by sitting or lying down or maybe smashing windows or dancing on the desks (all portrayed in the OP video posted on their site). The “99%”er worker is who will suffer tomorrow, not the bank president. It is quite possible that tomorrow you will have a high-paid barista making the day hell for some rank-and-file bank employee who makes less than them. Does this strike anyone as ironic?
Meanwhile Wells Fargo corporate in a high rise in NY, or wherever they are, in order to pay for more future security and increase profits, may very well just jack up fees, lobby harder and write even better legislation for themselves.
OP is off-target again and the tactics are wrong. The target is Washington and OP is bringing a tricycle to a NASCAR race.

This is one of the most serious points in America’s history and we can’t afford to waste the energy and consciousness that has been raised by employing out-dated tactics. The social and political networks available to us now are unprecedented. These are the modern tactics that haven’t been put to the test. I can’t stress enough the need to channel this energy into getting some effective and aggressive lobbying and representation, and draft some legislation and get it passed. Your enemy the bankers are doing this while you sleep and chuckling into their glasses of scotch! The system will not radically change because a menial percent of Portlanders road their bikes around the block and yelled and carried on in some little bank branch. The system has a better chance at changing through a thousand paper cuts. It takes a lot of work, and is harder than getting arrested (which incidentally just raises costs to you and the city, not the bankers).

Babygorilla
Guest
Babygorilla

Mike Fish
It’s the police who decide how to spend the money. They didn’t need to pay police overtime for officers who came all the way from Salem. It was a peaceful protest. The cops just elevated the tensions. It would have been way cheaper if the they’d stayed home. Or better yet, if they’d put on their jeans and sweaters and protested with us.
Recommended 0

The camp was given three days notice to vacate, and the camp chose not to. I haven’t spent a night at the camp, but have spent a few hours there over the last few weeks. It degenerated into something that no longer represented what the majority of people sympathetic to actual structural change in our economy / politics are striving for.

Ted Buehler
Guest

Excellent.

Saturday night taught a generation of Portlanders how to stage a protest, peacefully, in the face of the police.

Peaceful civil disobedience is key to most uprisings for social change. It’s important to know how to do it, do it well, and have fun doing it.

It’s not a revolution until we’re in the streets. And unless it’s a revolution, the government will keep handing trillions of $ to the banks and continue to cripple the economy.

Nice work bicyclists, keep it up!

Ted Buehler

BURR
Guest
BURR

I would just caution the people planning to participate in the swarm (which, by the way, I think is a great idea…) that the police are capable of rolling out tactics to deal with cyclists if they so desire, so don’t be completely naive – be aware and be prepared; just because they didn’t last Saturday, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.

sw resident
Guest
sw resident

Here is empirical support for my position. This poll was just released and shows a net loss in support of OWS and an increase in support for the Tea Party since Oct 13: http://www.publicpolicypolling.com/main/2011/11/occupy-wall-street-favor-fading.html

There is no mention of attitudes toward tactics in the poll but their negative effects can’t be discounted. This is because when there was high support for OWS on Oct 13th the focus and “marketing” of the movement was on political and economic issues. After Oct 13th the focus became on the “O” in OWS and less on the myriad issues that fell under the OWS umbrella.

Otto
Guest

Better yet, swarm the Internet and D.C. phone lines in protest of SOPA hearings happening today. It’s Hollywood attempting to censor and break the Internet.

Ted Buehler
Guest

BabyGorilla wrote:

“Police estimated that they spent $450000 over the weekend on officer overtime”

Yawn.

The US Government spent 12.8 Trillion bailing out the banks in 2008 and 2009. (as of March 31, 2009)

Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=armOzfkwtCA4

It will take a lot more demonstration than this to reinstate Glass-Steagall and other reforms to re-regulate the banks and prevent them from looting the treasury again.

So maybe it will cost the City of Portland one million dollars to police the demonstrators this year. That’s a great savings for this country if we get any bank reform at all out of the deal.

Even if it costs the governments across the U.S. a trillion dollars to police the demonstrators, the people and government budgets will be *waaaay* ahead of allowing the status quo to continue.

(and a trillion dollars is the Portland expenses times one billion — it’s a high target to hit…)

Ted Buehler

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

I know this is a banking-hours-specific event, but if the Occupy folks really want to get big numbers in support of their cause, they might consider holding rallies on weekends … when more of us who are still lucky enough to have jobs can join them.

JF
Guest
JF

I believe this call to action by using bicycles is to support the N17 event. The swarm should not be intended to promote bicycle awareness. If you ride your bikes along with the organized N17 event, you may do whatever nonviolent civil disobedient thing you want on your bike.

But if the swarm of bicyclists choose to ride on city streets as vehicles during this event and not be with the actual march/event, please follow traffic laws.

This is a call to occupy banks, not for bikes to occupy the streets.

Alan 1.0
Guest
Alan 1.0

I’m thinking that those avid cyclists referring to the cycling community must, therefore, be avid communists.

Tongue firmly in cheek.

No side left unskewered.

bikeyvol
Guest
bikeyvol

Ride your bike to protest. Lock up bike. Go protest. Ride bike home. Support bicycle community by biking to protest. Support OWS by protest financial institutions — not people that work for them — (I am skipping the “you’re actually hurting more of the 99% working public that work for banks” arguement here). Support bike commuting community by riding bike home, in the rain and dark, demonstrating that it’s not *that* awful to get a little exercise on the way home.

Simple, no?

Duncan
Guest
Duncan

And just think how much the city of Selma could have saved had Martin Luther King not crossed that bridge.. maybe the city should send his estate the bill for attack dogs and wate hoses?

Hugh Johnson
Guest
Hugh Johnson

There is a 99% chance your post will be deleted. Calling Maus a moron is not too cool. I like when he sticks to bike stories. The politics make things ugly sometimes.

Straybike
Guest
Straybike

I am a commuter and a road biker. I am out in the community riding past the Ghost bikes, dodging potholes, and wiping rain off my face everyday. I work, represent a Union, and participate with community events. I shop local, buy organic, and made in a america first. I am purchasing a house and pay all my taxes. I have expensive and every year more expensive health insurance. A little civil non violent disobedience to show solidarity is all I can really do. To speak my mind and to ride free. There are 2 sides only in this issue and its the 99% or the 1%, im not sure how anyone can be confused to which side they are on by default. You still have the right to disagree, sit on the couch and watch football , drive to the store for 6 pack if you can afford it, and complain about the condition of the world. Or you can simply smile riding your bike in traffic legally and voice your opinion with the rest of the world and be a little disobedient if you want to. I was at OPDX and the local news does lie or exagerate the story. See for yourself then I will listen to your opinions. In the meantime, I will be swarming!

Barney
Guest
Barney

I ride my bikes a lot, and I am interested in making that better in PDX. I think that in presuming that bicyclists support OWS across the board is presumptious. The posts here are all over the map which clearly shows that there is not unanimity among the cycling community. I do not support what OWS has become and I think it does not help cycling issues to be lumped in with the OWS movement. People who want to tie cycling to the OWS movement will rue the day when it all turns to sh!t and cyclist are tarred by the actions of the anarchists and other criminals who have taken over this movement. I am not un-symphathic but they are seperate issues, don’t drag cycling down with OWS when it tanks! It is all eff’ed up now, count me out as a cyclist!!!

Andrew Wilkins
Guest
Andrew Wilkins

My friend, an occupier visiting Portland, wants to ride and needs to borrow a bike. Can somebody help? She’s about 5’8″ and not picky about her steed. Call / text @ 503-333-7558. Thanks for being there Saturday swarmers!

Paycheck2paycheck
Guest
Paycheck2paycheck

Yeah, let’s terrorize those big evil banks! Better yet, lets vaguely plan a non permitted march mob riot swarm thingy and make threats to disrupt all of the banks in the area. Lets also disregard public safety, laws, tie up all of the police and make a mess wherever we go! Its OK, we’re just protesting. Oh wait a minute, whats that? Those banks are filled with our neighbors, family and fellow Oregonians working family wage jobs? Thousands and thousands of local family wage jobs. No it cant be. I don’t believe it! Occupy Portland is so oblivious they hardly realize that most of the damage they are doing is to all of us and themselves. I am disappointed in this “advocacy” blog for having anything to do with this.

John
Guest
John

Jonathan, you have let Lilith and the Bike Swarm co-op your good name and the good name of BikePortland.org – polarizing readers and advertisers. I encourage you to repudiate Bike Swarm and its effort to use bicycles to help “shut down the banks”. Focus your talents on constructive reporting of bike issues and building a positive image of bicycling in Portland.

Bill Michtom
Guest

Why there is nothing the Occupy movement can do that remotely approaches the criminality of the people we are fighting:

Matt Taibbi:

For all of those who say the protesters have it wrong, and don’t really have a cause worth causing public unrest over, consider this:

Last week, a federal judge in Mississippi sentenced a mother of two named Anita McLemore to three years in federal prison for lying on a government application in order to obtain food stamps.

Apparently in this country you become ineligible to eat if you have a record of criminal drug offenses. … Since McLemore had four drug convictions in her past, she was ineligible to receive food stamps, so she lied about her past in order to feed her two children.
[snip]
She has paid the money [$4,367] back. [But the federal judge]
gave her three years, saying, “The defendant’s criminal record is simply abominable …. She has been the beneficiary of government generosity in state court.”

Compare this … to the fraud settlements on Wall Street. Like McLemore, fraud defendants like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank have “been the beneficiary of government generosity.” Goldman got $12.9 billion just through the AIG bailout. Citigroup got $45 billion, plus hundreds of billions in government guarantees.

All of these companies have been repeatedly dragged into court for fraud, and not one individual defendant has ever been forced to give back anything like a significant portion of his ill-gotten gains. …

Anita McLemore, meanwhile, lied to feed her children, gave back every penny of her “fraud” when she got caught, and is now going to do three years in prison. Explain that, Eric Holder!

Read the entire article. http://bit.ly/tFG3Uq

Paycheck2paycheck
Guest
Paycheck2paycheck

Well done Occupy. Another peaceful organized protest. I really feel that you pounded your message home today. Sad day for this beautiful city. Hanging the flag upside down?!? What disrespect. I hope all of the Police understand that there are many of us that really appreciate and respect the incredibly difficult job that they are doing. If you know or see a police officer, thank them for the job they are doing. I know I will.

j Jones
Guest
j Jones

OP is lost in too many different causes. I THOUGHT OWS and OP was about holding people and corporations responsible for the economic mess they have made. Corporate greed and the like.
Did not support “camping in town” movement as there was never any reason to believe anything good was going to come from it. I was not there, and like many people in the 99%, I get what I can from the media. Yes I know…..but I am able to discern for myself from many different sources.
Before you get too critical, just how do you think that the rest of the 99% get their info regarding these issues? Being there as it was happening gives one great insight….and can cause great bias as folks tend to get caught up in the moment.
Regarding the N17….Wish I could have been there. The impression I have of this is that people were focused on at least some of the business(s) that were responsible for this mess. This is something that my simple mind was able to understand.
I still fail to understand what my HPV has to do with this. Riding a bicycle has nothing to do with politics (imho), nor do I care much for the association. Using very little fossil fuels to transport one’s self to a forum to express one’s political views is “above the norm”. Calling me to action because I ride is not much different than the labor union attempting to influence my support because I make a living at a certain trade. Not a real stretch here. If you are alienating people who ride in the attempt to attract those who ride then perhaps this is an issue to consider. Gathering ALL the support one can rather that being selective might have more value……
Being an activist AND a journalist is a dangerous combination. While this does not make Jonathan wrong (or his motivations suspect), it is precarious ground to stand on. Being a journalist and an influential bicyclist and then using THAT very influence to unify the bicycle community towards supporting your own views tends to get, well, a bit murky.
Yes, I have issues :-)……but I applaud some of the efforts to “right the wrongs” and hold people accountable. Life is not always easy to deal with and no one can please everyone in navigating their course.
We all get our opinion.

john
Guest
john

Well stated. We all have different opinions on the matter. I respect people for taking a stand based on their convictions.

I bike 23 miles per day to and from work, right through Portland each way. For the BTA Bike Challenge I am in the upper 1% of total miles logged for the month. I do all I can to bike safely, show respect towards others, acknowledge car and bus drivers, in short, survive. I take exception to those who politicize “bicyclists” in Portland. It’s not a joke folks. You want to protest, close banks, interfere with police, “swarm”, go right ahead, but leave bikes out of it. I need to get to work and don’t want some angry motorist to associate me with you.

Jonathan, I am a long time supporter of you and BikePortland. You are respected and influential in the bike community. I appreciate your many excellent articles on social issues and the bike community. Thank you! Maybe you can run for Mayor some day! When you throw in with people like N17 whose stated goal is to interfere with police and close the banks, you are on a very slippery slope. I hope we have all learned some lesssons over the last few weeks. Ride safely.