Splendid Cycles Big Sale

Portland Police ended Critical Mass. They should do the same to the Trump caravan

Posted by on September 4th, 2020 at 3:25 pm

Critical Mass participants being arrested in downtown Portland in April 2006.
(Photos: Kerrke Yu / Indymedia)

The massive, pro-Trump caravan of car and truck drivers that rampaged through downtown Portland last Saturday is poised to return. On Monday, organizers plan to “rally for our President” and honor Aaron Danielson, the man who was shot and killed in one of the many altercations that took place during the chaotic event six days ago.

“They were unfriendly to say the least and most of the time they acted aggressively.”
— Tiago DeJerk, Critical Mass participant

By now everyone has seen the videos that clearly show illegal and reckless behavior from many participants. Despite all the menacing driving, blatant non-compliance with traffic laws, and using weapons and bear mace on bystanders, the Portland Police Bureau didn’t do much about it. At a press conference the next day Portland Police Bureau Chief Chuck Lovell made it clear they didn’t have a plan to address the automotive onslaught — beyond asking drivers to avoid downtown (although videos showed officers making no attempt to stand in their way).

Lovell said his officers were stretched too thin, that inserting them between opposing crowds is “not operationally feasible,” and slashing vehicle tires (something his officers have done many times at other protests) was also not possible.

This is quite a striking contrast to how they responded to a similar, emotionally-charged, vehicular protest known as Critical Mass.

When hundreds of bicycle riders held cruise rallies of their own in downtown Portland in the early 2000s, the PPB’s response was strong and swift. Thanks to Portlander Joe Biel, founder of Microcosm Publishing and creator of Aftermass, a film that chronicled the rise and fall of Critical Mass in Portland, we know the PPB pulled out all the stops to put an end to what they referred to internally as an “anarchist bike rally”.

Advertisement

Documents Biel obtained through a public records request revealed that the PPB assembled a “Critical Mass roster” specifically assigned to quell the ride each month. At one ride in November 2002 the PPB showed up with 49 officers: 21 motorcycles, 3 patrol cars, 13 officers on bikes and 12 on foot.

In the PPB report filed after the ride, an officer described a harrowing scene that served to justify the police presence: “The mass of bicyclists yelled as they moved their bicycles up and down above their heads. This type of behavior caused me to be alarmed, as there were many families and small children in the area, and the police were clearly outnumbered by this angry group of critical mass bicyclists. This group could have easily incited a riot.” Another officer wrote that he feared a rider would use his bicycle as a weapon against him.

“What [the police] are telling us, is that these behaviors are not something they are going to prioritize — and that’s dangerous.”
— Mark Ginsberg, lawyer

When Tiago DeJerk showed up to his first Portland Critical Mass in 2005 he was surprised by the heavy police presence. “The cops showed up with their own Critical Mass. They were unfriendly to say the least and most of the time they acted aggressively, doing whatever they could to split the groups, break up the ride.”

In 2006 we reported on a Critical Mass event that turned ugly and resulted in several arrests.

“They would come up with creative ways to bust people, interpreting the laws in ways to frame riders rather than provide security,” DeJerk recalled. He was shocked because of how fun and police-free the rides were in San Francisco. “I could not accept that Portland was a bike-friendly city when the authorities would dedicate so many resources to brutally repress bicycle group rides.” DeJerk remembers watching a friend be tackled to the ground after she stuck her tongue out an officer. “The cop who tackled my friend proceeded to kneel on top of her.”

Portland lawyer Mark Ginsberg (who specializes in traffic law cases) was active in bike advocacy in those days and often played the role of mediator between police and Critical Mass participants. He’s also been on the ground as a legal observer with the ACLU during the current Portland protests.

Ginsberg was surprised at the hands-off response to the pro-Trump rally. “We need to ask why our PPB and their leadership (Chief and Commissioner) are not involved in the leading of priorities. What they are telling us, is that these behaviors are not something they are going to prioritize — and that’s dangerous.” “We see PPB regularly puncturing tires of vehicles near BLM protests,” he continued. “They claim they were doing it because cars and protesters don’t mix. Yet downtown during daylight hours [during the Trump caravan], PPB let them mix, with no effort at visible presence, much less enforcement consistent with their own statements.”

As for the PPB’s claim of not having enough officers to respond, Ginsberg says, “PPB is making staffing choices, and then using those staffing choices to publicly state they cannot do other Police functions because they are stretched too thin.”

Organizers of Monday’s rally say they’ve already “reached out to local police” and that all drivers “must stick together.” “We are staying on Freeways we Are Not going off route,” the Facebook event description says. That was their plan last time too.

If the PPB truly wants to stop a repeat of Saturday and protect Portlanders from this anarchist car rally, they should dust off their Critical Mass playbook.

[UPDATE: Comments on this post have been closed.]

[UPDATE, 9/9: Comments on this post have been re-opened.]

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

65
Leave a Reply

avatar
29 Comment threads
36 Thread replies
3 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
50 Comment authors
SuburbanKurtJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)The Dudecmh89 Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

JM, this opinion piece of yours cheapens the Critical Mass movement by your comparing it to a political Trump truck rally. I realize you are probably blowing off some steam, but the point of Critical Mass was to unite cyclists of all political stripes to work together to get the car-driving masses to “see” cyclists not only as people to share the road with, but to stop ignoring cyclists as if they were never there – it’s more like BLM movement than Democrat versus Republican.

No doubt the police in Portland are biased and many if not most support Trump. No doubt the same is true in my community too, likely in most other US cities too. If we polled city planners, likely they support Biden over Trump by large margins. But this has nothing to do with Critical Mass. I don’t recall any political campaigning during the CM events – I can’t even recall GW Shrub’s opponent in 2004. And there were no election rallies in 2005 or 2006.

Police everywhere make a lot of “exceptions” during political protests. You know that, we all do. I’m just sorry you feel compelled to compare a cheap Trump stunt, and the police reaction (or lack thereof), to a movement like Critical Mass.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest

Yes, I too was struck by the same thought…concern that the piece as currently written would make most lay readers, whom had not participated in both events, think that both events had a similar impact of vehicular violence on the general public: 35 pound bikes vs. 10,000 pound 300 hp trucks, etc. But that is not true.

Nor should have the 2000s critical mass rides been so heavily and violently put down by PPB. [At the time I had frequently participated in CM rides in Portland, SF and even Paris France…the Mayor of Paris led one for ~3000k citizens and participants of the 2003 VeloCity Conference.] Reading your article’s title and call to PPB action at the end – makes the reader think that you agreed with the heavy handed policing of 2000s CM rides in Portland.

Respectfully submitted, this article may be more effective communicating your intent if it had just compared the policing outcomes and with the actual threats. (It and the title can be edited down to such, and I would recommend you consider seeking a third party editor on it,…maybe Mark Ginsberg?)

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

I’m sure that one was a regular event by people hostile to cops specifically intended to mess things up and the other is a one-off by yahoos (who wouldn’t even be there again so soon if one of their own hadn’t recently been killed) has nothing to do with it.

Dagny Taggart
Guest
Dagny Taggart

There was no “cheap Trump stunt”. Trump had NOTHING to do with the rally. I’m guessing after the Democrats called for defunding the police, and after the Mayor/city council/governor told the police to stand down while thugs destroyed the city and rioted, putting the police officer’s lives at risk, that yes, they are going to vote Trump. Democrats at the local, state, and federal level do not deserve a single vote.

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

Trump paid all these people to come INVADE from out of town. Also Ayn Rand was a phony who ended up on Social Security and Medicare because she just wasn’t that good of a writer.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Different mayors.

Todd/Boulanger
Guest

Its way more than “different mayors”…

The PPB under Mayors Katz and Potter fought CM…until Potter rode with us AND it also became cool (and savvy) for cities to promote cycling infrastructure outcomes.

[Really only Mayors Clark and Adams…and perhaps Mayor Rowe too…understood the brand marketing power of a cycling friendly city. Plus Potter understood the opportunity cost of the policing resources that were being wasted in crushing CM.]

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

Todd,out of curiosity mostly, who was Mayor Rowe? Lived in Portland my adult life, back to Goldschmidt.

soren
Guest
soren

A day after David Graeber died, Maus describes fascists as “anarchists” while also calling for a police crackdown.

SMDH

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/04/books/david-graeber-dead.html

maxD
Guest
maxD

What the police did to the Critical Mass protester was reprehensible. I also think the pro-trump rally is reprehensible, but that does not justify wanting to weaponize the police and point them at people you and I do not agree with. Your article does an excellent job of pointing out the hypocrisy of the police. I also agree with your call for the police to protect citizens and counter protesters. However, I do not agree with calling on the police to coordinate a proactive attack on anyone.

Dagny Taggart
Guest
Dagny Taggart

Wise leftists (is that an oxymoron?) will do well to stay out of the way of moving Trump caravan vehicles at the next event. Just let them pass and everyone should go home safe.

Paul Cone
Guest
Paul Cone

The Facebook post for the Trump event says they are not coming to Multnomah County.

mark smith
Guest
mark smith

You folks don’t get it….the police are by and large with Trump. Trump supports cops. The dems/left have lambasted the police and supported the rioters (“peaceful protesters”). So basically you are saying..defund the police..but can you take care of our enemies before we defund you?

Steve
Guest

More fake news. You didn’t say anything about the so-called bystanders blocking traffic ripping flags off of car’s and being the aggressive punks that they are

rick
Guest
rick

How about the antifa and blm crowds who have blocked TriMet and other public transit?

Xzavier
Guest
Xzavier

The Fact that you have a platform to complain is astounding, and it only shows once again the liberal hypocrisy. Protestors/rioters have taken portland hostage for 3 months, destroying property and bothering people.

donel a courtney
Guest
donel a courtney

Anyone, of any political opinion, is entitled to demonstrate according to the first amendment of the bill of rights.

Random Salmon
Guest
Random Salmon

This article is trash. I participated in Critical Mass while living in Portland back in the mid-2000’s. I continue to cycle to this day, but reading this you sound like a typical lefty. Crying about people who have a different viewpoint than you; WTF does a Trump rally have to do with CM? Get ready for four more years! Trump2020!

Woody
Guest
Woody

Are we speaking of the same Portland? The anarchist are the ones rioting, burning, assaulting and killing and that isn’t the Trump caravan it’s your friends in ANTIFA and BLM. Was it not a BLM member who shot and killed a participant in the caravan? Killed him why; oh because he was a Trump supporter. To kill another for political differences is the very definition of terrorism.

Scott
Guest
Scott

I was wondering why didn’t mention anything about the nightly marches and riot’s, don’t they block the streets and cause alot of damage. I’m not a fan of trump, but doesn’t everyone have the same rights to downtown Portland

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

They do have the same rights, that is correct. But we should also expect the same levels of law enforcement, which we are NOT seeing.

Kyle Banerjee
Guest

We should not expect the same enforcement.

A normal protest requires very little enforcement. And while the expectations from a Trump rally aren’t the same as a regular protest, they’re very different from the nightly protests.

Alex Reedin
Guest
Alex Reedin

Yeah.. there should be much heavier policing of a Trump rally than of a nightly protest. Not because it’s a Trump rally per se, but because there’s a reasonable expectation of two large groups of civilians fighting, some of them armed. It’s a much more dangerous situation than the nightly protests. The PPB should use a heavy hand to do what they can to keep the two “sides” apart.

Shawn
Guest
Shawn

What ever happened to tire clearance, and mudflaps laws. It seems like it would easy for PPB to puncture a few truck tires. Huge target that is not enclosed in the fender… ???

Dan
Guest
Dan

Oh but it’s perfectly fine for the other people to burn down cities for the past 100 days. Biased you think

Jahne Cody
Guest
Jahne Cody

In your story, a police officer said “could have incited a riot” and another officer “feared a rider would use their bicycle against him”. But they didn’t. Your story also quotes that a guys friend stuck her tongue out and she was tackled and a knee was put on her. A one-sided story and WE weren’t there.

I believe everything is up for discussion and changes should be made. But also believe that our leadership has not and will not do anything to change what is going on with the “peaceful” BLM protests. We will not go downtown at night in Portland anymore. We do not think it will change anytime soon .

Two sides cannot agree on what is good and right for the whole of the community, city and humanity. Way past that. 

Please see a story from both sides and not point out that the PPB will not do what you and others think they should do.  Again…we are way beyond that. Peaceful protests are one thing, rioting, looting and criminal behavior that goes unpunished and could be seen not normal by some should be. 

No one has mentioned real solutions….only demands. Now we see our mayor who stood with BLM and the protesters is now being asked to resign and has to move.

I respect people’s opinions and thoughts on solutions, but one-sided reporting isn’t something I see as helpful.

Come on Jonathan

Respectfully, Jahne Cody 

Shannon
Guest
Shannon

What do you expect to happen when you treat your police officers like sh*t, take fifteen million dollars from their budget, attempt to set a precinct on fire with officers inside, riot for almost 100 days, point lasers in their eye leaving them with permanent damage, don’t hold rioters accountable for their crimes, and laugh and cheer when you stalked and murdered a man that doesn’t agree with your fanaticism?
Do you even know how many officer your city has?
BEFORE the nightly riots your city had 900 active officers in a city with the population of 657,100. Which means BEFORE the riots that’s 730 Portland residence for EVERY ONE officer. Now between injured off duty, resignations, and the drop program your city has at most 600 active on duty officers or one officer for every 1095 residence.
So instead of whining about the police not doing enough you should reflect on how citizens have under appreciated the officers you had. You need to accept the fact that this situation is your fault not the police. You should thank the officer you have and rebuild that relationship. unfortunately you’ll probably just continue to blame everyone else for your actions.
What do you expect to happen when you treat your police officers like sh*t, take fifteen million dollars from their budget, attempt to set a precinct on fire with officers inside, riot for almost 100 days, point lasers in their eye leaving them with permanent damage, don’t hold rioters accountable for their crimes, and laugh and cheer when you stalked and murdered a man that doesn’t agree with your fanaticism?
Do you even know how many officer your city has?
BEFORE the nightly riots your city had 900 active officers in a city with the population of 657,100. Which means BEFORE the riots that’s 730 Portland residence for EVERY ONE officer. Now between injured off duty, resignations, and the drop program your city has at most 600 active on duty officers or one officer for every 1095 residence.
So instead of whining about the police not doing enough you should reflect on how citizens have under appreciated the officers you had. You need to accept the fact that this situation is your fault not the police. You should thank the officer you have and rebuild that relationship. unfortunately you’ll probably just continue to blame everyone else for your actions.

J
Guest
J

“To inform and inspire”…. this article is kinda petty for a site that informs and inspires. First of all you talk about “Menacing driving, blatant non-compliance with traffic laws.” How is this any different from the protests/riots that have been going on for the last 90+ days. A lot of those protest broke many laws and didn’t fill the proper paperwork to shut down roads and stand in front of vehicles of average people trying to go about their way. Now I realize that the trump supporters are loud but trying to single out them with use of “Weapons and bear mace” is wrong. Every single night protesters and rioters are throwing rocks and explosives at counter protesters and police. Obviously you can’t entertain any type of understanding of other people’s views. Hopefully someday you can try to see things from both sides and use proper wording that doesn’t over exaggerate something that wasn’t really a big deal. Don’t bother with replying because I won’t bother debating anything with someone with a closed mindset. Best regards.

Will Aitchison
Guest
Will Aitchison

To be fair, in 2002 the Police Bureau had over 1000 sworn officers. Thanks to cuts, that number is now less than 850 and falling. The population of Portland in 2002 was 529k, meaning we had 1.9 officers per 1,000 population. Today our population is 664k, meaning we have 1.3 officers per 1,000 population.

We have the lowest level of cops of any large city in the country and it’s getting worse. They just don’t have enough people to go around.

Your mom
Guest
Your mom

The irony of how your story frames people driving through Portland for 1 day. Which resulted in a man being stalk(litterally on the arrest warrant) and killed. Vs the 90+ days of violent, firey “protest” and riots…. really shows how stupid you must think the general American is.

Kyle Petricka
Guest

Do You use the same adjectives to describe the terrorists organization blm and antifa when your writing stories about there or are you only bias against Republicans? Wouldn’t it be great if the media just reported the truth and left there personal opinions and political bias out of the news? I guess that’s too much to hope for!

Bill
Guest
Bill

CM devolved into privileged children bullying their way through our cities with no regard for residents, pedestrians, or divers, let alone traffic laws. They became the very epitome of “might makes right” and when they finally got their long overdue smackdown, all if those same residents, pedestrians, and drivers celebrated. In this way, CM bullies were much like antifa, minus the looting and homicide of course…

Hearing you squeal like little babies about a Trump rally now returns the smile to my face.

Thank you.

Connie Cauchon
Guest
Connie Cauchon

At least the Trump train supporters didnt loot or burn anything down. Maybe you should comment on that.

Bert
Guest
Bert

Interesting article trying to portray the silent majority finally making their voices heard. Your on the wrong side of the fence

Brandon
Guest
Brandon

See the “Trump” protest was after what 90 days of antifa protests that the police were told not to interfere with and they probably assumed that since the antifa protesters were freely allowed that the Trump protesters should have the same same freedoms.

Alexander E Gibson
Guest
Alexander E Gibson

If the Trump caravan starts setting shit ablaze we’ll talk.

Michelle Erkenbeck
Guest
Michelle Erkenbeck

What a croc of crap. We are not violent. This article is a lie against the Trump rally. They just hate that we finally here to back up the police and our President

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

You are violent terrorist who invaded a city that you don’t live in.

Paul
Guest
Paul

When did the BikePortland comment section get taken over by the far right?

Suburban
Guest
Suburban
The Dude
Guest
The Dude

Jonathan, this is very disappointing. Your site is now filled with racists trying to justify police violating the Constitutional rights of members of the community you serve. Is this what you want for your website? This is driving away good people, and is not a legitimate discussion of anything.