Corking, joy, and community at PICA’s ‘Policing Justice’ exhibition

An installation in the Policing Justice exhibit at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art. (Photo: Lois Leveen)

— This article is by Portland-based author, Lois Leveen.

The community protects the community. That is the very essence of corking.

Most BikePortland readers are familiar with corking from our participation in group bike rides: individuals intentionally block cross-traffic at an intersection until all the ride participants have passed through, to prevent motor vehicles from endangering riders.  Perhaps you are someone who loves to cork. Sensing a need to ensure the well-being of the community. Assuming a space of vulnerability. Practicing skills of de-escalation while demonstrating to drivers how we engage in bike fun.  

Or perhaps you are someone who appreciates not having to cork, knowing as you move along with the group that other members of a ride are keeping you and everyone else safe.

As vehicular violence increases locally and nationally, there is something truly beautiful about the fact that a bunch of random Pedalpaloozaing strangers who meet up in a park dressed as cats, or dressed in teal, or fanning it up over Angela Lansbury — can calm traffic. 

The community-oriented act of corking contrasts with the refractory and dangerous stance of the Portland Police Bureau, which has repeatedly declared that reckless driving is so out of control in Portland, there is nothing they can do about it. This claim encourages illegal and dangerous driving. It also obscures how effective and how radical the simple act of corking can be.

Corkers protect a protest march in the Hollywood neighborhood. June 8th, 2020. (Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

In the summer of 2020, when the group rides of Pedalpalooza were canceled due to COVID, some bicyclists brought the corking practice of community care to Black Lives Matter protests, eventually developing corking protocols specifically for supporting racial justice activism. I can remember how moved I was when, after months of pandemic isolation, I crested a rise on my way to a racial justice rally at Fernhill Park and saw a coordinated group of bicyclists and motorcyclists positioning themselves to protect the marchers. The community protects the community.

That same summer, a racial justice march passed by the home of June Knightly, and she was so inspired she began corking regularly, taking the moniker T-Rex as her nom de cork. Knightly, who walked with a cane, didn’t cork on a bike. As protests grew larger and the logistics of keeping them safe became more complicated, the focus and strategies for protest corking evolved to include cars along with bicycles and motorcycles.  This wasn’t the only adaptation made to protect large protest marches. Whether I am corking a bike ride or relying on corkers when I lead a ride, I define the purpose of corking as ensuring vehicular traffic pauses long enough for bicyclists to pass safely. Dajah Beck, who became friends with Knightly as they corked together, describes protest corking differently: “Our entire purpose is to prevent chaos. And it’s something we always try to reiterate to people. We’re not blocking streets, we’re redirecting traffic. Our whole purpose is to keep traffic moving.” 

On February 19, 2022, as Knightly, Beck, and other corkers gathered in Normandale Park before a march demanding justice for Daunte Wright and Amir Locke (Black men killed by police officers in separate instances in Minneapolis-St. Paul), a white supremacist wearing a t-shirt proclaiming, “Kyle Rittenhouse is a true patriot” approached and began verbally harassing and threatening them, using a misogynist slur. Enraged by their refusal to engage, he charged at one of the corkers. Then, in that dark corner of the park, he pulled out a gun, killing Knightly and shooting four others, one of whom remains permanently paralyzed.

The Murder of June Knightly,” a video produced by a team of researchers working collectively under the name Forensic Architecture, reconstructs the events leading up to and following the attack. It is currently on view at Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), as part of a larger exhibition entitled Policing Justice. (The quotations and other details I’m including in this post are taken from the video – which includes footage of the shooting recorded on a helmet camera – and from an article about it that was published in The Guardian). “The Murder of June Knightly” and the PICA exhibition as a whole provide a disturbing, moving, and ultimately hopeful understanding of our city, one that all community-minded Portlanders should experience. 

The exhibition situates the recent years of racial justice protests and the Normandale Park shooting within a larger history of abuses by Portland police.  It also addresses decades of local policies and practices like redlining, land forfeiture, and environmental racism that have targeted Black Portlanders in particular. The harm resulting from these practices extends far beyond those who have been directly targeted, as “Tear Gas Tuesday in Downtown Portland,” a second video by Forensic Architecture included in the exhibit, methodically documents. If you were bicycling, walking, playing, living near, attending school, or working in areas of Portland proximate to where Portland police and federal forces deployed tear gas at protestors, you were exposed to highly toxic substances banned by the Geneva Convention. In one night of June 2020 alone, our air contained levels of toxins hundreds and even thousands of times higher than the levels that federal agencies have determined are “immediately dangerous to life and health.” These toxins entered the soil and the Willamette River, doing lasting damage to the entire ecosystem.

Grim as such details are, the PICA show simultaneously reflects the dedication and the determination that drives social justice activism:  a belief that we the people can improve our city and our country. As journalist and activist Mac Smiff notes in the exhibition catalogue, “Policing Justice” seeks to “explore Portland’s history of policing in relation to racial, environmental, spatial, and juvenile justice; give voice to the lived experiences of those most directly impacted by police misconduct and the criminal injustice system; and create space to imagine a multitude of possible futures for public safety that are intentionally inclusive and driven by community.”  

Given the urgency of those first two goals, it is notable that they are integrally linked to the third. During a symposium at PICA, Kayin Talton Davis, who works for the Albina Vision Trust and who collaborated on several pieces in the exhibition, reminded the audience that for many Portlanders (and many Americans), asking, “what does my future look like?” is “a radical and essential question.”  Another of the artists, Robert Clarke, posed an equally radical and essential question: “What is your vision for a world where you are not policed, where you don’t have to fear for your lives?”  

Compared to other nations, America incarcerates a far higher portion of our population; prioritizes spending public dollars from on policing and incarceration rather than fully funding healthcare, education, affordable housing, clean water, and other basic necessities; and sacrifices more than 1,000 Americans who are killed by the police each year (a number that continues to increase even after outcry following the murder of George Floyd), amounting to execution without trial or conviction. Despite these evident failures, policing is so ingrained across our society that most Americans cannot begin to envision an alternative. Bicyclist, pedestrian, and public transit activists, deeply concerned about America’s deadly addiction to car culture, must counter a similar inability of most Americans to envision and embrace safer, more healthful, and more community-oriented alternatives. (This analogy between dismantling car culture and dismantling the carceral state is especially relevant because, as the book Cars and Jails shows, America’s dependency on cars and car culture dramatically contributes to America as a carceral state.)

And yet, the alternatives we need to envision begin with the same simple truth:  The community protects the community

Ben Smith, the white supremacist shooter, intentionally targeted June Knightly, Dajah Beck, and their friends as they stood far from where racial justice protestors were assembled on the other side of Normandale Park. As corkers, they had cared for and protected fellow community members countless times, and on that night, it was community members who came to their aid. Trained volunteers who were supporting the march disabled and disarmed Smith (without harming any bystanders), and immediately began administering medical aid to everyone who had been shot, including Smith. By contrast, when ambulances arrived, they were delayed in treating anyone because the 9-1-1 operator dispatched Portland police who insisted on first interrogating those who had been targeted, treating the racial justice activists with open suspicion. Despite the testimony of the victims and witnesses and the helmet camera footage provided by the corker, in the hours that followed the Portland Police Bureau intentionally released a public statement with misinformation about what had happened.  The police crafted a false narrative to make it seem like the incident began with armed protestors threatening a homeowner. Two years later, the Portland Police Bureau continues to promote this false and dangerous version of the event.

During my most recent visit to PICA, I watched “The Murder of June Knightly” along with two other people, a young man and an older woman who (based on their responses to the video) may have known one or more of the people who were shot. We were the last three people in the gallery that day, and the quiet of the space made the weight of what we were seeing even heavier to bear. But the video doesn’t end with the shooting, nor with the police circulating the false report that was picked up across local and national news and right-wing social media. It ends with June’s friends corking again, as they have regularly done in the two years since they were attacked. The footage of this more recent corking includes a joking exchange with an annoyed driver, one that deescalated the driver and made all three of us viewers laugh out loud (thank you, corker). The final image and sounds in “The Murder of June Knightly” are of teens chanting and marching, demonstrating once again that we the people have the power and the responsibility to make our city and our country better. The community protects the community.  

Policing Justice is on view Thursday & Friday, 12:00 – 6:00 p.m. / Saturday & Sunday: 12:00 – 4:00 p.m., through May 19, at PICA, 15 NE Hancock Street, Portland. Exhibit website.

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Lizzie
Lizzie
1 month ago

Thanks for this beautiful review! I have plans to see the exhibit this Friday and now I’m looking forward to it even more. Such an important exhibit to be having and I hope it generates even more conversations among those who see it about what we want our city to look and feel like.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago

“individuals intentionally block cross-traffic at an intersection until all the ride participants have passed through, to prevent motor vehicles from endangering rider”

Also known as Disorderly Conduct – ORS 166.025. You don’t have a right to break our laws for your own convenience or pleasure. Doing so is grossly selfish self indulgence on your part, and if you do it as part of a mob it is simply bullying and intimidation of your fellow citizens. If doing so brings you “joy” the problem is you, not anyone else.
Disorderly conduct in the second degree
(1) A person commits the crime of disorderly conduct in the second degree if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person:(d)Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic on a public way;

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

(d)Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic on a public way;

In this case it seems to me the ride itself is causing the “obstruction”; in most cases, the corker doesn’t meaningfully add to the problem.

It may be that corking meets the letter of the law in this case, but I don’t think it meets the law’s spirit.

(That said, I also find Fred’s comment below compelling. I don’t know if there is an inherent contradiction; maybe my opinion is colored by the fact that I like group rides, and corking makes them significantly better.)

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Just admit that you like blowing stop signs and red lights*!!!1!!

PS: I treat stop signs as yields [legal] and red lights as stop signs [illegal] so it’s nice to see Watts joining the ninja bike-scofflaw club (your patch is in the mail, Watts)

(* at least some of the time)

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

Just admit that you like blowing stop signs and red lights

I do! I’ve never said otherwise, and I don’t feel the need to dress my pursuit of personal convenience in the garb of “safety” or “civil disobedience”.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Crossing a signaled intersection when there are no automobiles is safer than waiting for them to right hook or run a red.

There is some evidence that red light “blowing” may be safer than zealously following the law. For example, a TfL report argued that men were less likely to be hit by trucks at intersections because they were also more likely to disobey red lights:

…a leaked report by Transport for London’s road safety unit noted that 86% of the women cyclists killed in London between 1999 and 2004 collided with a lorry. By contrast, lorries were involved in 47% of deaths of male cyclists.

The study was blunt in its conclusions: “Women may be over-represented in (collisions with goods vehicles) because they are less likely than men to disobey red lights.”

https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/may/21/women-cyclists-most-accidents

Moreover, legalization of red light running in Paris was reported to remove “conflict between bike riders and vehicles at traffic lights, and particularly those in which a driver has a blind spot.”
https://road.cc/content/news/157275-cyclists-paris-allowed-ignore-red-traffic-lights

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

I’m not saying it’s always more inherently dangerous to cross against the signal (it’s highly situation specific, and your reasoning would apply to car drivers as well as cyclists), but it seems like an awfully convenient justification for doing what you want to do anyway.

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

…an awfully convenient justification for doing what you want to do anyway.

Right back at ‘ya, Watts.
.
Scratch that — I support the obvious safety benefits of keeping mass group rides together via corking just like I support the safety benefits of treating red lights like stops* (when the coast is clear).

*Legal in Idaho and Colorado and very much should be legal in OR

John V
John V
1 month ago

Different norms for different modes. When the cars of a mile long train block a road, that’s not disorderly, but it’s the same idea. A big bike ride is a long train that needs to stick together, otherwise there is chaos. There is not letting cars interleave and weave in and out, it makes no sense. A long bike ride needs to be seen as one large vehicle (one with the throughput of a 16 lane highway).

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

 When the cars of a mile long train block a road, that’s not disorderly

The only times I’ve seen drivers cork is at late night driving rallies like the ones that occasionally happen atop the Freemont Bridge. And those most certainly are disorderly.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago

I think you need to read what you quoted more thoughtfully.

Corkers explicitly DO NOT do it “with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof”. You might argue that corkers create a risk of annoyance. But “creating a risk of annoyance” is overbroad and vague to the point of being meaningless. Your comment annoyed me. Shall we try you for Disorderly Conduct because of it? And the “intent” is not there either.

Corkers cork explicitly to ensure public safety, not to create inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm. They are PREVENTING motorists from behaving recklessly, not themselves acting recklessly.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

I disagree. Say you’re in a car, being rushed to the hospital before you bleed out from a wound you suffered (when you fell off your bike, probably).

But then you are blocked from lawfully crossing an intersection b/c some cyclists have “corked” it so they can have a fun group-ride. So you die.

How does corking “ensure public safety” in this case? Someone died so people could not be inconvenienced by having to ride a little faster to catch up.

Your logic here reminds me of the cartoon that came out shortly after cellphones became ubiquitous in drivers’ hands. The drawing shows a guy driving, talking on his cellphone, saying, “Hi Honey! I just killed a family of four but the good news is I’ll be home before the meatloaf gets cold.”

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Straw man argument.

Private vehicles being used as ambulances for people on the verge of death happens extremely rarely. This is why we have actual ambulances (which can provide medical treatment en route, too!)

But road-raging people driving cars violently because they were momentarily inconvenienced happens All. The. Time.

PS
PS
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

Amazing what we will say happens rarely and what happens all the time.

https://www.wxyz.com/news/people-are-opting-for-uber-lyft-instead-of-an-ambulance-ride-to-the-er

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  PS

Well that’s a choice I didn’t know people were making. A potentially suicidal choice.

Actually, I should just quote the very article you just linked: “A decision experts say puts lives at risk.”

So, thanks. I’m just adding this one to the list of reasons that rideshare apps are terrible for society.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Matt

Somehow your comment needs to be auto-replied to every comment ever complaining about corkers/corking. Corkers are like if someone stood in the road to stop traffic to let an elderly person slowly cross. They’re there to put their own body on the line to ensure drivers do what they’re supposed to do.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

 Corkers are like…

Not at all. In the scenario you constructed, the person crossing is legally has the right-of-way, and traffic must stop with or without the corker, who is merely drawing attention to that fact.

In the case of bike rides, the people riding are not legally permitted to enter the intersection, and the corkers are allowing them to do so by blocking people who have the right-of-way.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Watts is correct here. The whole corking argument is ridiculous:

“Because some people drive dangerously, then any person has the right to block any intersection.”

No, they don’t.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

Sorry, but I disagree with you. Who decides what is “protection” and what is “community” and what is anarchy?

In a democratic republic, we agree to put lawmaking in the hands of legislators (deciding what rules we’ll abide by); execution of the laws in the hands of executive agencies (law enforcement, gov’t agencies, etc who make sure the rules are followed); and interpretation of the laws in the hands of judges (what the laws mean and making sure they are enforced fairly etc).

And then you have a few individuals who say “Screw the rules and the process” and you say that’s okay b/c “The community protects the community”? What the hell does that even mean?

I know the law isn’t perfect, but when cyclists decide their rules override the rules we’ve all agreed to follow, where does it end? How about I knock you off your bike so I can ride it around until I decide to give it back to you? Sure – we’ve all agreed, through laws etc that people should get the use of their own property, which they paid for, but since we can now pick and choose which laws we follow, I’m going to choose not to follow that one. Tomorrow I’ll choose another law not to follow. You see where this gets us.

I will not support corking, ever, unless police are doing it as part of a sanctioned event.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Fred

I disagree Fred. I think as a society of people with free will, it’s up to us to decide when to take certain actions in the name of a greater good. And by “us” I mean that in the largest, general sense possible and I also acknowledge it’s harder then ever these days for the “us” to do anything together. IMO it’s important to stay very specific on these topics. In that regard, when people organize into a mass protest like this (essentially against state power in the hands of some poorly trained people with guns), protecting them from other road users is a very good idea. It’s just like a crossing guard outside of a school. Do you disagree with those? It’s not technically legal to stand in a crosswalk with a flag and stop traffic like they do, but we accept it because we understand the greater good they are working toward.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago

Crossing Guards are Traffic Patrol per ORS 811.015. They are specifically carved out in the law exactly because standing in a crosswalk blocking traffic while not on Traffic Patrol is Disorderly Conduct.
ORS 811.015 Failure to obey traffic patrol member

(1)The driver of a vehicle commits the offense of failure to obey a traffic patrol member if:
(a)A traffic patrol member makes a cautionary sign or signal to indicate that students have entered or are about to enter the crosswalk under the traffic patrol member’s direction; and
(b)The driver does not stop and remain stopped for students who are in or entering the crosswalk from either direction on the street on which the driver is operating.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Thanks. I think we should fight for a law change that adds protest corkers to the statute.

And I understand you and I disagree on this Patrick. I don’t want to live in a country where ever word of every statute is considered unbreakable. This isn’t North Korea!

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago

Great, we agree; your comment was incorrect.
As to what world we each are individually working towards I would prefer to live in a country in which our laws are democratically arrived at, objectively written, respected, and equally enforced on all of us.
I understand you would like special privileges for you and those you like.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Yes I didn’t realize that fact about crossing guards so it was a flawed analogy.

And my solution is a democratic one. I’m saying I think corking is OK and should be legalized and that we should use the democratic system to make it so. I don’t see corking as being any different than people who intentionally break all sorts of other laws because it suits them in the moment. It’s interesting to me that you and others on this thread take such issue with this, but not with stuff like people parking in bike lanes, speeding, using phones while driving and so on and so forth.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago

Yes, your comment was incorrect. You are now proposing a different solution; to add protestors blocking other citizens as protected activity under a law you didn’t even know existed until I told you about it 5 minutes ago.
Maybe you haven’t put as much thought into this as you should have.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

yeah it’s a comment section, not a front page story on WaPo. It’s a conversation, not a Congressional hearing! I realize you have a big issue with any form of mass bike event and that you are very big of folks thinking they have special privileges. I am here to debate and share my perspective.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago

Funny, you have yet to say “I was wrong”.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Yeah I was wrong about the crossings guards being illegal. Why is me saying “i’m wrong” so important to you? I say that all the time because I’m a human, not a robot.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago

A – When someone is clearly incorrect it is important to memorialize it so the speaker can’t pass it off as something less than it was like “I was only joking about drinking bleach to fight Covid” or “it was a flawed analogy” as opposed to an incorrect fact.
B – Since the very first thing that popped into your mind on this topic was factually incorrect, it is very possible your beliefs are based on other falsehoods and misunderstandings. So it is important to name false as “false” so you can examine your beliefs without the burden of trying to shoehorn a falsehood into them. You’re welcome.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

JM, I just don’t see how the ends justify the means in this case. You are adamant that cyclists should be able to cork intersections so that slower riders don’t have to work a little harder to keep up? That’s the Higher Good that you are arguing for here?

No thanks. I’d prefer to have gov’t bodies make the rules, difficult as that is.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Fred

First. I’m not “adamant.” I’m just talking about hypotheticals and I happen to think corking is a good, useful way to keep large rides and protests safe. I wish I could have a digital conversation without people assuming that whatever I am typing are my strongest beliefs, hill I would die on, or most important thing in my life. That being said, I don’t think about “slower riders” necessarily. When you have dozens or hundreds or thousands of people in a group event, it is much more sensible and safe to make sure they can all cross through intersections together. The way to do that is to cork. Not everything will have a permit or a police escort and that’s a good thing.

Now, I also support how the Naked Ride this year allowed drivers and cars to break through every once in a while.

And I think we disagree about “gov’t bodies.” Yes I of course agree gov’t should make laws, but I don’t think we as “the people” should just follow every single word like it’s a black/white thing. Again, people choose to break laws every single minute of the day when they roll through stop signs, speed, cross outside of a crosswalk, and so on… But we don’t really see folks get upset about that like we do here.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago

people choose to break laws every single minute of the day when they roll through stop signs, speed, cross outside of a crosswalk, and so on

Those are different cases. Corkers are saying: We are preempting the law – putting ourselves above it.

That’s much different from my seeing an open intersection and rolling through a red light, which is essentially breaking an existing law.

Corkers are inventing their own law without following any legal process.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Those are not in any way different. Those are the same thing. Except corkers are doing a service for tens or hundreds of people for safety, so it’s even more obviously good.

John V
John V
1 month ago

Civil disobedience, in one form or another, is a key, absolutely critical, part of a democratic society. Laws are changed all the time literally because of defacto norms changing.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Civil disobedience includes accepting the consequences of your actions. Which in this case is a Class B misdemeanor.
Civil disobedience does NOT mean doing whatever the heck you want without care or consequence.

John V
John V
1 month ago

Well no, you’re wrong about that. That’s how you would like to spin it. Civil disobedience means accepting the possibility that you will face consequences while at the same time arguing and fighting for there to not be consequences (that’s the point much of the time). Yeah there is some risk to self, that’s what makes it a brave act. But that doesn’t mean people should “accept it” whatever you mean by that. They should fight the consequences.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Nope, that’s just criminal behavior.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

I’m curious: What if it was a protest that included only school students and there were “traffic patrol” people holding “cautionary signs or signals”? Wouldn’t that be technically legal?

To me it doesn’t look like much of a stretch to expand the existing crossing guard language to include corkers during events where there is a minimum number of people needing to safely get through an intersection. We have laws for funerals and other processions, why not have them for mass protests?

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

One other alternative to keep things legal would be to apply for a parade permit. During the Critical Mass years, this was the main point of contention; had someone applied for one, the police said they’d leave the rides alone (which would have defeated the purpose).

I believe the WNBR gets a permit, and it seems to work fine.

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

It’s just like a crossing guard outside of a school. Do you disagree with those? It’s not technically legal to stand in a crosswalk with a flag and stop traffic like they do, but we accept it because we understand the greater good they are working toward.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure that crossing guards are legal.

Poor analogy.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago

I think the comparison to a crossing guard is very apt. I think corking for the safety of pedestrians and protesters is fairly well accepted, but I also think that it is a slippery slope, and that seems worth acknowledging and exploring. I am not convinced that a pedalpalooza ride of people dressed likes cats NEEDS to stick together at the expense of traffic. I support people getting together and doing their thing, but they can wait at a stop light. I have big group rides of vespas corking intersections, and they are horribly loud and smelly and I really resent it. I have seen a big group of e-micros (scooters, one-wheel thing, little motorcycles, e-bikes, skateboards etc) corking intersections and I don’t see the value. I am ok with them taking over a lane- they are going at least 30 mph anyway, but why wouldn’t they stop at a signal? How about street takeovers where people take over an intersection or bridge to do burnouts and donuts? How about the violent armed resistance that protested the red house safe on Mississippi? The blocked the streets with long guns and used the same tactics as the yahoos that took over the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. The United States stands apart form other nations by being a nation of laws, where laws are enacted by representatives empowered by the people, and laws are enforced equally. I think we are in a precarious time where corporations and wealthy individuals are above the law and exert undue control over our politics, so some civil disobedience is called for and I support it, but I would strive for equal treatment under the law, and not just random groups deciding what laws to obey and who has to obey them. I think corking is a bit of a slippery slope, I would urge people to use it less.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

I am not convinced that a pedalpalooza ride of people dressed likes cats NEEDS to stick together at the expense of traffic.

Exactly. Thank you.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

when people organize into a mass protest

A group ride is not a mass protest (unless it specifically is). Didn’t you recently write the following?

[Biking] is just a tool for mobility. It’s not always a political or advocacy statement.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin
Reply to  Watts

Did I say a group ride is a mass protest? Nope. Never said that. I was saying it might be interesting to consider that when there is a certain number of people riding or walking together (call it a protest or a ride/march/walk, the law can be blind), we should be able to keep them together across intersections because it’s safer for everyone involved.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

I must have misunderstood. When you wrote “we have laws for funerals and other processions, why not have them for mass protests”, I thought you were suggesting legalizing corking for all group rides, not just those designated as protests.

If I got you wrong, I apologize.

I think there should be an avenue to make corking legal for large social rides as well (if a parade permit is insufficient for some reason).

Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
Will the last bike commuter turn off their lights
1 month ago

Did I say a group ride is a mass protest? Nope. Never said that.

Contorted rationalizations aside, in our Fordist society any mass bike ride that interferes with the right of way of the bloody and ecocidal automobile is the epitome of political protest.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago

any mass bike ride that interferes with the right of way of the bloody and ecocidal automobile is the epitome of political protest.

Even if it’s also “bike fun”?

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Why not? Helps to get people out to your political protest if it’s also fun. That’s a pretty common strategy, really.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

I’ll refer you to the comments about “bike fun” made by WTLBCTOTL in the Ladd’s 500 article comments section.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I don’t think their comments should be taken to mean nobody should have bike fun. But I see maybe your comment was meant as just whimsical teasing.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Petro-Masculinity flexing.
Sorry to inconvenience your driving (not) but the lengths some people will go to to justify their “right” (it’s not) to drive where and when they want, is boggling. You do get that the point is to protect riders from harm, right?

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

Disorderly conduct in the second degree
(1) A person commits the crime of disorderly conduct in the second degree if, with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm, or recklessly creating a risk thereof, the person:(d)Obstructs vehicular or pedestrian traffic on a public way;

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago

Considering that police don’t enforce extremely dangerous driving behavior all over this city, all day long, it seems weird to focus on a minor inconvenience like this.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

So you’ll continue to break the law without consequence as long as other people get to break the law without consequence?
Very civic minded of you.

Nick
Nick
1 month ago

Ever park your car on the street for more than 24 hours? I’m sure you’ve also never run a red light or failed to stop completely at a stop sign, never exceeded the speed limit.

16.20.170 Storing Property on Street Prohibited. 

No person may store, or permit to be stored, a vehicle or other personal property on public right-of-way or other public property in excess of 24 hours without permission of the City Engineer, the City Traffic Engineer, or the Bureau of Development Services. 

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick

Nope.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

It’s not a minor inconvenience when traffic backs up and ambulances can’t get to hospitals, kids can’t get to school, health aides can’t reach the elderly, etc etc.

I’m pretty sure that if legislators felt corking created a “minor inconvenience” it would be legal already.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

If we cared about ambulances getting to hospitals, we’d be doing things that actually make that work. Dedicated bus lanes could be used by emergency vehicles, and would get people out of cars too. Don’t use the pretend threat of slower ambulance response times as a cudgel. There are sanctioned parades and street closures all the time that also could theoretically slow emergency response (or just regular old traffic caused by cars), and we just let that happen.

Nick
Nick
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Clearly a bad faith argument

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick

No, Nick, I assure you that I make the argument in good faith.

Sanctioned events that block intersections have safeguards for moving emergency traffic. Not so corking.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

What are you talking about? You think corkers can’t see flashing emergency vehicle lights and hear sirens? You think they wouldn’t step out of the way and let the ambulance through? That’s a laughably bad faith comment.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

Yes, this is a key point. Our carceral state overpolices some behavior and tacitly allows other behavior — exceedingly dangerous behavior — to flourish. Portland Police Bureau says there is too much illegal driving for them to do anything about it. Yet we in our cat/teal/Fangela Lansbury glory have proven otherwise. Patrick will keep citing the same stuff over and over because he wants MORE carceral state. As one of the speakers at one of the Policing Justice events noted, if the carceral state actually prevented crime, why isn’t America, with its propensity to incarcerate so much of the population the safest nation on earth?

donel courtney
donel courtney
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Have you examined the crime south of our border all the way to Antarctica?

All the countries in the Americas, including us, have high crime except for Canada.

Maybe its cultural mixing due to colonialism and the resulting lack of stable familial and geographic ties like in Asia and Europe, the low crime parts of the world. Maybe its gun laws and inequality.

Maybe, just maybe, without our criminal justice system it would be EVEN WORSE. Like Mexico, Brazil, Honduras, Guatemala, Columbia, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, the Carribean….

donel courtney
donel courtney
1 month ago
Reply to  Chris I

They used to, when I was in my 20s i was pulled over on Glisan, I was talked to, I drove home. Lesson learned.

But what changed?

It was people saying black drivers were disproportionally stopped, when no one discussed whether they disproportionally broke driving rules.

Then the police stopped. Because “Portland” (ie loud voices, largely transplants, between 82nd Ave and the river), told them they were poorly trained people with guns and racists so they stopped.

Is “Portland” changing its mind?

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  donel courtney

As noted in the article, the book CARS AND JAILS will prove edifying on the “value” of traffic stops.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
1 month ago

Ok, Disorderly Conduct it is. Not “creating a risk” (that would be the drivers) but for sure causing “inconvenience” and “annoyance” – though that last one seems like a choice to me.
I can live with that, no problem.
We’re still going to protect riders from drivers.
And btw, this isn’t the only law that favors driver convenience over public safety.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

Great, we agree “corking” aka restricting the free movement of other citizens on public property without their consent is Disorderly Conduct 2. Personally I would like to see it treated as felony kidnapping or false imprisonment but I guess we have a reached a compromise if neither of us get all that we want.
Disorderly Conduct 2, so say we all.

EEE
EEE
1 month ago

Do you think it should be felonious to cork for a bike bus of kids getting to school?

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  EEE

Who is doing the corking? Police? Then legal. Other enforcement entities? Then legal.

A bunch of parents? Then illegal.

EEE
EEE
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Do you think it should be illegal for “A bunch of parents” to do this if it is already legal for them to do it?

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  EEE

Are the “corkers” acting on behalf of the district or city and acting in the role of Traffic Patrol? If yes then no problem (See above). Though if they are playing a role similar to school bus drivers I would prefer a licensing process like a CDL with written and practical testing, background checks, fingerprinting, recurring retest requirements, and an associated schedule of monitoring through urinalysis, etc.

If no, then that is completely reckless endangerment of other peoples’ children and appalling. You really shouldn’t do that.

EEE
EEE
1 month ago

The corkers can be totally acting on behalf of the district or city and even can be duly appointed as Traffic Patrol members, lots of pee tests, etc. But they remain incompliant with the ORS. Still felons, right? Your rights abridged, you’re kidnapped?

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

It’s a good thing the citizens of Portland voted you in as Czar of traffic laws, determining which ones are obeyed, and who has to obey them.

The weight on your shoulders and ego must be great! I don’t envy or want to be like you!

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
1 month ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Everyone gets to choose which laws to obey and which they don’t, every day. I’m not saying the law doesn’t apply to me or that I’m immune to the consequences. I’m saying protecting cyclists is more important to me than this particular Disorderly Conduct law, so in circumstances where cyclists could be endangered by drivers I’ll choose to break the law to protect them.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

All so that your group ride is uninterrupted?

All I can say is that I hope you suffer the full consequences for breaking the law so you have lots of Quiet Time to think about whether it was all worth it.

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
1 month ago
Reply to  Fred

Again, the point is protecting riders from drivers on a group ride.
Your comment is just spiteful. I can only infer that you wish (“Lots of Quiet Time”) corking carried a more serious penalty that involved jail time.
Protecting uninterrupted driving is that important to you?
And the “Full Consequences” of a 2nd degree misdemeanor would be?

A Grant
A Grant
1 month ago

As a pedestrian, vehicular traffic causes inconvenience, annoyance and/or alarm, whilst also obstructing public ways, on a daily basis.

For instance, in my city, to cross the six lane stroad near my home by foot legally, I have to effectively walk 500m out of my way to find the nearest legal crossing, then 500m back. This auto-centric infrastructure is a significant and intentional inconvenience to anyone on foot, with traffic moving 20kph over the speed limit serving as a obstruction to my neighbourhood.

Yet some people lose their collective mind if a temporary inconvenience is imposed on vehicular traffic

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  A Grant

The citizens being “corked” are not responsible for your choice of residence, that rests with you.

A Grant
A Grant
1 month ago

“The citizens being “corked” are not responsible for your choice of residence, that rests with you”

Tell that to the elderly residents of my neighbourhood, who have lived here for 60+ years.

Tell me, what if people, on their own initiative, decided to “cork” our six lane stroad to allow a single elderly resident to safely cross? How about 5? 10? What if those doing the “corking” carried signs that protesting lack of accessibility for vulnerable road users?

Or better yet, what if I tell you that myself and other residents doing the “corking” are not responsible for drivers’ choice to live in a car dependent neighbourhood. That rests with them.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  A Grant

You are not entitled to live wherever you want, nor can you expect all the rest of us to ease every inconvenience your choices in life bring you. If you want to engage in civil disobedience to demand reality adjust to fit your preferences feel free, but don’t whine when you (hopefully) win yourself a B misdemeanor for disorderly conduct.

John V
John V
1 month ago

Who cares? The law is wrong. Civil disobedience about bad laws is common and good. When people take the lane while a poorly maintained bike lane is available, they’re breaking “tHe LaW” (at least in some places) but we do what we have to. The law is wrong, rarely enforced, and worth breaking in some cases. Breaking this kind of law works as motivation and fuel for getting it overturned.

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Great, go with that. Engage in the civil disobedience of Disorderly Conduct 2, and then get a Class B misdemeanor, and stick to the “the law is wrong” defense. Accepting the consequences of your actions is what distinguishes civil disobedience from just general antisocial a-holishness and selfishness.

John V
John V
1 month ago

In your mind, what is the opposite of “accepting the consequences of your actions” that you think some nebulous “somebody” is doing? What does that even mean? Everyone doing civil disobedience knows there could be consequences, they’re accepting that by doing the civil disobedience.

What are you even talking about?

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Well you could start with the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy definition of civil disobedience (below) and from there move onto Thoreau’s On the Duty of Civil Disobedience;
On the most widely accepted account, civil disobedience is a public, non-violent and conscientious breach of law undertaken with the aim of bringing about a change in laws or government policies (Rawls 1999, 320). On this account, people who engage in civil disobedience operate at the boundary of fidelity to law, have general respect for their regime, and are willing to accept the legal consequences of their actions, as evidence of their fidelity to the rule of law.

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

Guess next time I see you on the road, I’m free to knock you down off your bike and take your bike. Afterall, in my opinion (not really but for argument’s sake) bike theft is a bad law and should be broken!
You won’t mind of course.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

The “not really but for argument’s sake” is a key part of your comment that should not be overlooked. You don’t believe that. It’s a lot harder to contrive scary scenarios that are very convincing. Blocking traffic for a couple minutes so ten thousand people can get by is perfectly reasonable and doesn’t really get to the same collapse of society fears you’re trying to monger.

Fred
Fred
1 month ago
Reply to  John V

If you need ten thousand people to get through, then you’d better have a permit.

I think the corking discussed here is more for informal group rides where a couple dozen people decide to cork.

Chris I
Chris I
1 month ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

That sounds like felony assault. Are you really going to use that as your example?

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago

There is of course a lot to unpack in this freewheeling discussion of corking in relation to racial justice actions. I would like to mention two of them, the first being the value of 2nd amendment rights as when it is described by the author

Trained volunteers who were supporting the march disabled and disarmed Smith (without harming any bystanders)”

it means someone shot the attacker, ended the threat and most likely saved more lives.
The second being that it is a shame the Portland community (“The community protects the community”) has never seemed as upset over the constant vehicle deaths that shatter the local communities as it did the few deaths of people far away and resulted in constant protests and riots (yes, two distinct actions as has been mentioned here before).

Nick
Nick
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

has never seemed as upset over the constant vehicle deaths that shatter the local communities

Plenty of people are upset about this, your argument is abusrd

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick

Honest question for you since you think it’s absurd, where were or when were the weeks long protests over local deaths?

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Yes, jakeco969, the Second Amendment piece is a sticky one for me. In general, I am not a fan of more guns. And yet, Smith would have shot (and likely killed) far more people (he had a lot more ammunition he confessed he intended to use) if he had not been disabled by a volunteer who was legally carrying a weapon. The volunteer waited until they had a clear shot and aimed to wound rather than kill Smith. Once Smith was on the ground, volunteers in the group kicked his weapon to where it could not be reached, and administered first aid to him along with those he had shot. There are many, many, many instances of the police arriving at the scene of a crime in progress and shooting far more indiscriminately, wounding or even killing bystanders, (or a person who was trying to PREVENT a crime). I am not personally comfortable suggesting people carrying guns (by far, most gun deaths in this country are suicides, and when you add to that “accidental” shootings and domestic violence, it means having a gun in one’s household makes it far likelier someone in the household will be shot). But knowing that over a thousand Americans a year (who have not been tried or convicted) are killed by the police, it’s clear that the idea that “armed police” make us safer also deserves scrutiny (though the police use multiple methods, not just guns, to kill Americans.

Notably, this is one of the few documented instances in which “a good person with a gun can stop a bad person with a gun,” and yet the usual pro-gun groups did not herald this good person as a hero, presumably because they could not imagine someone engaged in the movement for racial justice as a hero. Neither could the Portland Police, as the details from the Guardian article make clear:

As Beck took cover in front of Knightly’s truck, Smith shot Bradley again, but, before he could reload – he told the police later he had up to 42 more rounds in his pockets – a volunteer armed guard for the protest who sprinted to the scene when the attack started shot Smith in the hip with an AR-15 from about 20 yards away. The guard, who can be seen briefly in Beck’s video after the shooting, then disarmed Smith and dressed the wounds of two of the gunshot victims. As a protest medic cut off Smith’s clothing to give him emergency medical care, keeping the attacker alive, the guard noticed that underneath he was wearing a T-shirt with the phrase: “Kyle Rittenhouse is a true patriot.

Covered in blood from treating their injured friends, the guard who shot Smith turned themself in to police. “I walk up straight to them, as calmly as I possibly can,” they recalled. “And I say that I was involved and I want to speak to a lawyer.”
The guard was eventually arrested and charged later that night with two felonies for shooting Smith. Then, abruptly and without explanation, they were informed a few hours later that new evidence had come to light and the charges had been dropped. When the guard was released, they said, detectives refused to give them back their clothes – claiming that it was “in evidence” – or to provide any alternative clothing. They walked out of the justice center in just their underwear.

donel courtney
donel courtney
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

So Lois, do you think its a good idea that marches like the Patrick Kimmons march, in support of a man the police shot after he had shot two people, should occur with a “security” contingent of guys with AK-47s marching through the streets of Portland?

Private security requires a license, police, for whatever Jonathan’s thinking that they are “poorly trained” require a year of training.

It was pretty dystopic when those marches were happening with AK-47s in the streets of Portland in broad daylight.

No one was checking whether those people with the guns protecting the march had training or felony records.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  donel courtney

“No one was checking,” may just mean you don’t know if anyone was checking. The armed volunteer who prevented Smith from murdering more people besides June Knightly was in compliance with the law.

dw
dw
1 month ago

Lois, I’m interested in your definition of the word “community”. It feels almost like a marketing term at this point. You referenced “the community” throughout the article but never really defined what that means to you.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  dw

A fair question, dw. Broadly speaking, in this sense — and it is one many activists use — community means people caring for each other, engaging in mutual aid and support rather than leaving this care only to some governmental authority. Yesterday, I was talking with a researcher/educator who works on teaching people in their twenties emergency preparedness. They noted that one of the most important things people can do to prepare for a major natural disaster (such as an earthquake) is to know their neighbors, because when disaster strikes, it may be impossible for even first-responders to provide emergency aid, and the ability to do so for those around us will be lifesaving. We already have community efforts to ensure people are fed. Shoveling the sidewalk and steps for a neighbor for whom that would be physically difficult or impossible, also community helping community. It is very difficult to imagine systems that are entirely different from the ones that currently exist, and yet once we start to see ways that community cares for community, the possibilities can expand. This is the world I want to live in.

I started using the phrase “the community protects the community” in the summer of 2020, when I was at a racial justice gathering in Peninsula Park. An elder who had lost family members to gun violence was addressing the crowd, and someone who happened to be crossing the park started yelling offensive things. From their behavior, it seemed they might be drunk or not have full mental capacity. Someone in the seated gathering got up, and move toward this person. Then another person joined, and another. Slowly, a circle formed around the person. No one made physical contact. No one even spoke. The circle just slowly started moving in unison, guiding the person in the center away. The speaker addressing the crowd about her family’s grief never even noticed any of it, it was so peacefully done. I think something changed forever for me when I witnessed that. It made me realize how much we can do in community.

donel courtney
donel courtney
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

I was at the social justice marches all through 2020. I watched the “community” regularly force people out who they disagreed with.by shoving them with shields.

No trial, no nothin, group justice decided on the spot by a mob.

Thats your community, not mine. I feel nothing in common with the “activists” you speak of. They have a right to demonstrate and that’s it. They don’t have a right to carry military weapons and scare people and they’re not my community.

My community doesn’t advocate violence and destroying businesses in the guise of caring for people.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  donel courtney

donel courtney, I don’t expect any group to be entirely homogenous. There were actions and activists I disagree with deeply. There were others I learned from tremendously. Just as I learned from the “Policing Justice” exhibit, including the panels and film series, which are ongoing. I encourage you to keep an attitude of inquiry.

(As I noted in another comment, I am not a fan of guns, but my guess is that the people who were openly carrying military weapons may actually have had the “right” to do that, given the open-carry laws. Laws advocated by private companies that make money selling guns and ammunition, but laws that give the right nevertheless.)

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

From your writings I’ve seen recently you come across as a fairly fair person and your article and responses are pleasant to read. Yes, the right to carry weapons is second only to right of free expression in our legal system. Both rights can be and are abused constantly, but in my perspective that is more a result of flawed humanity rather than the rights enumerated.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  jakeco969

Our laws are a human invention, designed to govern the conduct of flawed humans. On some level, they need to reflect that.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

For laws to be a little more idiot/flawed proof I would think they would need to have a touch more authoritarianism and as I believe you mentioned that would be a bit much for the locals to endure 🙂

donel courtney
donel courtney
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Ok, good advice, i’ll keep an attitude of inquiry as you say. its always good advice.

Champs
Champs
1 month ago

I’m not intentionally looking for middle ground, but it seems like both sides have a point.

In a civil society, we need some final authority on order. Authority starts with police, then works its way through the courts. Without that, “community protecting community” is exactly what vigilantes would say.

In a free society, we need protected speech. Protest is speech, and corking can be essential to that expression. Without it, people who hold these beliefs are endangered and their message is diluted, i.e. “divide and conquer.”

Personally, I want to live in both, even if it’s not always easy.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  Champs

I think “Authority starts with the police” fails to recognize how broken our police system is. It has been nearly a decade since the US Department of Justice found Portland Police Bureau to have a consistent pattern of violating people’s rights through excessive use of force. In that time, PPB has repeatedly violated the resulting consent decree. Over 80% of Portlanders voted in favor of improving police oversight in 2020. PPB has prevented that measure from being implemented; they are now trying to place a measure on the ballot to overturn it. Portland police issued a false police report about a sitting city council member and doxxed the current DA, presumably because they objected to the way these elected officials were trying to hold police accountable for breaking the law.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

 “Authority starts with the police” fails to recognize how broken our police system is

Our only option is to fix our system of government representatives authorized to enforce the law and respond to disorder (a.k.a. the police).

The alternative, “the community” protecting itself (a.k.a. vigilantism), is far, far worse, no matter how well intentioned folks start off to be. If you have any doubt about this, read NextDoor and imagine self-appointed armed groups of people like Kyle Rittenhouse or George Zimmerman patrolling the streets, responding to “complaints”. I am quite certain those two thought they were doing the right thing in the moment, with pretty awful results. Nevermind those with baser motives who would take advantage of the situation by charging for “protection” or (much) worse.

The police may have some serious problems, but they are much better than the alternative.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I believe the current events in Haiti are the logical endstate to the vigilantism mindset.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

I’m. sorry you can’t imagine a more positive alternative. Many of us can, and we’d be happy to welcome anyone who wants to learn how.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

I’ll admit my imagination may be limited. Can you point to any successful attempts of maintaining order and enforcing laws without a police force that might work in a city like Portland?

rolandson
rolandson
1 month ago

How is this any different from a collection of “street racers” taking over an intersection?

Michael Mann
Michael Mann
1 month ago
Reply to  rolandson

Street racers kill people.

Nick
Nick
1 month ago
Reply to  Michael Mann

street racing is also not an expression of your first amendment rights

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick

If dancing naked in a bar can be an expression of my first amendment rights, then maybe driving donuts can be too.

These answers all reek of “because I don’t like your activity but I like mine,” which might be useful for exercising power over others, but doesn’t really help us understand the underlying issues.

EEE
EEE
1 month ago
Reply to  Nick

It is definitely expression, and could implicate assembly. It’s just that it’s excepted from 1st amendment protections for some straightforward reasons.

Matt
Matt
1 month ago
Reply to  rolandson

Street racers/sideshows block off an intersection for an extended period of time to do their (ugh) “sliding” stunts in the intersection. The intersection is their “stage”. Bike riders block off an intersection only long enough to allow the group to proceed safely through the intersection. The intersection is just a transient point on their journey.

Street racers create extreme noise, air pollution, and stormwater pollution by gunning their engines and skidding their tires. Bicycle riders do not.

Thanks for asking. Any other questions?

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  rolandson

How is this any different from a collection of “street racers” taking over an intersection?

How is this different from a construction worker stopping traffic so a backhoe can back into the street to turn around, or a neighbor stopping traffic so the rental moving van can maneuver out of their driveway?

qqq
qqq
1 month ago

There are lots of other times where people do corking-type behavior, that people seem to generally accept, such as someone stopping traffic so a truck can back out or turn, or a construction vehicle can move onto a street to do something.

There are also lots of times where people obstruct traffic with their vehicles, that people also seem to generally accept, such as when vehicles double-park to load/unload materials or passengers.

I believe obstructing traffic flow by yielding the right-of-way when you have it, for instance to allow a person to cross the street who clearly looks like they want to cross but hasn’t yet physically broken the vertical plane of the curb (or whatever the law says) is actually illegal in many cases.

Perhaps laws related to corking and other forms of blocking traffic could be improved, but (and this isn’t any brilliant insight) there will always be cases where the law can’t be perfect, and violating a law doesn’t mean the violator deserves to be cited for anything.

John V
John V
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

Comment of the week nomination.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  qqq

there will always be cases where the law can’t be perfect, and violating a law doesn’t mean the violator deserves to be cited for anything.

In other words, the police need to exercise discretion and personal judgement when deciding which violations to attend to.

jakeco969
jakeco969
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Which is the perfect statement of why more progressives need to become officers so they will be the ones exercising that discretion.

qqq
qqq
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

Yes.

Micah Prange
Micah Prange
1 month ago
Reply to  Watts

A system that relies on the judgment of police needs police that have good judgment.

Watts
Watts
1 month ago
Reply to  Micah Prange

Absolutely it does, which is one reason we need more “right thinking” people to become cops.

Snoopy In Action
Snoopy In Action
1 month ago

Thank you corkers!!

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
1 month ago

I became less likely to cork, and felt less safe doing so, once people started associating corking with social justice protests. In fact I don’t think I’ve corked since 2020. It suddenly felt cringe to me even though I both supported the 2020 protests (not riots) and also corking intersections on group rides. I didn’t like when they became combined in the public’s mind – and I can’t pinpoint why exactly. It just felt dangerous to do so. That said, I always thank our ride corkers “thank you corkers!” and think they serve a valuable role keeping the ride together and protecting us from cars in urban social group rides.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Jay Cee, thanks for your emotional honesty about this; it’s actually refreshing to encounter some ambivalence and know folks are being reflective. I’d be interested in talking to you more about this. If you go to Bike Happy Hour or other ride events, please say hey. Jonathan can point me out, but honestly I’m pretty easy to find: I have cat ears on my helmet (reflective on a black rain cover this time of year, switching to furry leopard print when the rain is done), and images of me abound online. I look forward to connecting and talking in person.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago

I spent a lot of time crafting this piece in the hopes it would encourage BikePortland readers to engage around the issues at the heart of the Policing Justice exhibit, namely the long, well-documented history of police abuse; the toll that abuse has taken on our city and country; and the need to imagine alternatives. (Not unlike the need to imagine alternatives to cars if we are going to mitigate the climate catastrophe that is already upon us.)

While I understand that a few people have repeatedly posted essentially the same pro-criminalizing declarations over and over in the comments section (I’m sorry for them that they couldn’t better use that time building bonds of care and community), I am disheartened to see nearly no discussion of the issues at the heart of the exhibit, and at the heart of this piece. I suppose group-ride-haters gonna hate, but dang, I thought the rest of us might be interested in thinking about “safety” in deeper ways.

Maybe that’s just the way the comments go. Hopefully, some people will click on the links, and see the exhibit, and understand that the bitter back-and-forth here is one more way to keep ourselves stuck in this very broken system that through vehicular violence and police violence and so many other means is killing us. I’ll keep looking for joy and corking and community care as better ways forward.

YrSocialistFrend
YrSocialistFrend
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Thank you for writing this, i really enjoyed reading this perspective. The comment section is absolutely bananas. Lots of folks telling on themselves about how they’ll act when the ‘democratic republic’ crumbles under authoritarianism. My sadness and anger at our government never falls into paralysis or inaction because i know that community is our way out, our way to safety and liberation. We keep each other safe. I wasn’t aware of this exhibit and plan on checking it out.

maxD
maxD
1 month ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Lois,
I appreciate this piece and I found it thought provoking. For me, the sticking point is conflating corking for a protest with corking for a fun ride. I think there are many instances where a protest would require corking. The line gets blurred for me when people take the law into their own hands for a fun rides. Keeping public spaces free and open is very important to me, and I am suspicious of any group usurping that for any reason. It has been already noted that there is already a system for getting permits. A group ride could also just wait on the other side of red light to keep a ride together. A little corking for a handful or cat enthusiasts is not really a big deal, but it it seems so unnecessary, and is a slippery slope. To provide an example, I have been stopped (on my bike) by corkers for a large vespa club on a fun ride. The vehicles are loud, they are spewing exhaust, and it is not something I enjoy or appreciate, but I support their right to ride on the road, and they seemed to be having a great time. But I resented having to wait through an extra signal cycle for their selfish enjoyment. Again, a minor example, but extrapolated it it suggests people can commandeer public space for private use at their whim. When we look at other more sinister examples of that, I hope you can understand why some commenters are a bit reluctant to fully embrace corking.

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
1 month ago
Reply to  maxD

I understand your perspective, maxD. I have been a bike commuter for over twenty years, and a participant in Pedalpalooza since the first Bike Summer. I felt (as have we all) the streets of our city become more and more dangerous for pedestrians, bicyclists, and everyone over recent years. After a driver killed Jeanie Diaz around the corner from my home, at an intersection where EVERY DAY I witness drivers violating the law, I felt guilty that I had done nothing to advocate for safer streets in a way that might have prevented her death or others. So I got more educated and active on the issue. And I’ve come to realize that our current prioritizing of private motorized vehicles — cars, SUVs, pick up trucks, minivans — really is untenable, not just in terms of vehicular violence but also pollution, climate crisis, and the way we invest public dollars in sustaining that broken and harmful culture rather than in alternatives that would benefit all of us, like better public transit and prioritizing healthy transportation options of walking and bicycling. I know someone will chime in about distance and disability and other real concerns, but I just heard a coworker tell two other coworkers how much better their lives will be once their kids are old enough to drive. Oh how much worse and three coworkers’ kids lives will be because of the climate crisis, but she can’t see that. We need to see and make seen the alternatives. Demonstrating the joy of bicycling to drivers, which a well-corked fun ride does, is to me part of the solution. (The coworker with the youngest kid had told me fifteen minutes earlier that when he left work yesterday to pick up his kid from school, he got stuck in traffic on the Sellwood Bridge, and saw me joyfully ride past on my bicycle. If he had been on a bike, which he has been meaning to get around to riding to work, he could have zipped past, and met his kid at her school to walk her home. Instead, he missed the pick up and had to call someone else [using phone while driving) to ask that person to walk to the school and walk the kid home.] Hopefully, my joyful mobility will be an inspiration to my coworker, and not the other coworker’s delight that her kids are adding to traffic and destroying their/our collective future.)

R
R
1 month ago

Rare, but very aggressive, negative reactions to corking and concerns about intentional violence by drivers are why I now pack a hefty first aid kit on “fun” group rides.

Sure I have bandages for road rash but now I bring a tourniquet and wound packing supplies too.

Matt Villers
Matt Villers
1 month ago

What I’m really struggling to comprehend is that there are multiple people who, based on the number and depth of their comments here, have just spent basically an entire day yelling at folks who, whether you agree with them or not are at least *trying* to stick their necks out for others and do some good, and whose worst crime is causing some mild inconvenience in the process.

How do some of you have SO much energy to spend shouting down others over something that’s ultimately so trivial? You had nothing better to do today than endlessly argue against the validity of an act of care because they didn’t dot their i’s and cross their t’s first?

My goodness friends I can at least understand hours of arguing about drugs or traffic enforcement, because even if I disagree with some of you it’s a topic worth spending energy on. But an entire day dying on the hill of an anti-corking argument in the context of *this* post? Come on now.

In any case on topic, as a post-protests arrival to the city I found this post and the history it outlines really interesting, so thank you.

Hotrodder
Hotrodder
1 month ago

One of my favorite rides is Loud and Lit, but the last couple of years, I’ve been increasingly nervous about Pedalpalooza rides, and the antipathy between two factions I see on display here is the reason.

A larger population in Portland, more societal aggression in general and maybe just my age have made me realize that the anxiety I feel about being part of a large group that’s being kept safe by a gossamer, almost nebulous social agreement between drivers and corkers (THANKS CORKERS!!!!) is only getting worse in the era that we find ourselves in.

I’ll miss participating in the Kickoff and L&L and WNBR but I feel like the time is right to bow out. Those rides won’t miss one old geezer who probably shouldn’t even be participating anymore.

Good luck everyone. (I’m probably overreacting.)

OregonRainstorm87
OregonRainstorm87
1 month ago

I have immense respect for corkers and frequently cork on smaller rides. but I will never ever ever eveerrr cork again for the big rides after corking for last year’s loud and lit, as we (me and 1 other random person) corked against a HEAVY flow of 4 lanes of traffic near the Moda Center. It was a literal nightmare and I felt so unsafe. Where was the community protection for us corkers then? As some of our marquee rides get bigger and bigger (as this article alludes, WNB use to be a couple hundred people and now 9000?), we need better protection for corkers!

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

Wow, it’s almost like “the community” just wanted to get home and didn’t want to wait for the “Loud and Lit” ride (not universally beloved, BTW) to finish rolling through. How about getting a permit, following the laws?

Patrick Cashman
Patrick Cashman
1 month ago

It should be noted that Jonathan censors those comments that he finds oppose his personal views most effectively. I think I’m up to 5x comments he censored on this one. All perfectly polite, acceptable, and considered…they just disagreed with him a bit to effectively.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

Hi Patrick,

Most people here already know that we moderate all comments that come in. And yes, we have deleted a few of yours in the past day or so. But not for the views they share, rather for the tone and tenor. I feel like you have been a bit too combative and I wasn’t comfortable with that. Also, I reserve the right to delete comments for whatever reason I choose. Folks who’ve been on this site for a while know I don’t mind opposing views. In fact, I support them (maybe too much, according to some folks!).