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(en) Canada, CYCLISTS ARRESTED AND FINED AT CRITICAL MASS IN MONTREAL

From criticalmassmtl@resist.ca
Date Thu, 6 May 2004 10:54:23 +0200 (CEST)


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On Friday, April 30th, approximately 50 cyclists gathered at Phillip
Square in downtown Montreal for a Critical Mass. Critical Mass is an
international bicycling movement that was started in San Francisco in
1992. Rides take place in cities from Beijing to Paris to New York to
Mexico City on the last Friday of every month. The goal is to show to the
world that cars are unsustainable forms of transport, and biking is not
only much safer, but much more fun! Riders often assemble under the
slogan, "we aren't blocking traffic, we ARE traffic!" Critical Mass is
100% grassroots, with no leaders or central committee.

The ride got off to a great start and wound its way peacefully through
many downtown streets, including Ste-Catherine, Amherst, Ontario, and
St-Laurent. Bike messengers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, seasoned
cyclists, and activists young and old chanted, handed out flyers, and
provoked smiles and cheers all along the route.

At approximately 6:45pm the ride was going east on Rachel street and
began to be followed by a police cruiser with its sirens on. Another
cruiser came in front to block the route, so the riders turned to head
south on Avenue du Parc Lafontaine. Finally, at the corner of Duluth,
police officers pulled their cruisers in front of the cyclists, got out
of their cars, and began pulling cyclists off their bikes in mid-flight.
One cruiser flung its doors open, right in the path of one of the
cyclists (this is known as the dreaded “door prize” to most cyclists – a
grim danger that many face daily). This unfortunate cyclist who slammed
right into the door was immediately handcuffed and taken away.

As soon as some of the cyclists had been torn off their bikes, the rest
of the ride stopped in solidarity and assembled on the sidewalk at the
corner of Duluth and Parc Lafontaine. Besides the one arrested, three
other riders were given tickets. The charges ranged from running red
lights to obstruct police. All other riders assembled on the corner were
threatened with charges unless they dispersed immediately. The police
even started threatening random cyclists who stopped, curious at what was
happening. Apparently it’s illegal for cyclists to care for one another
in Montreal.

When the ordeal was over, more than $500 had been doled out in charges
from the police. More upsetting is that this is not the first critical
mass that has ended with police charges in Montreal. Why is it that a
long-established movement happens completely peacefully in other cities,
but ends in police repression here? Why can cyclists not assert their
rights to the road and express their aspirations for a better and cleaner
city?

Needless to say, all who were fined will be fighting the charges in
court. We cannot let the police derail one of the most powerful,
international grassroots movements here in Montreal.

To send messages of support to the defendants, or to find out more about
Critical Mass in Montreal, send an email to criticalmassmtl@resist.ca.
The best way to support Critical Mass is just to come out to the rides.
The bigger the group, the stronger we are!

The next ride will be Friday, May 28th, beginning at 5:30pm at Phillip
Square (Union and Ste-Catherine). Everyone is welcome, so tell your
friends and bring your bike! For more info, contact
criticalmassmtl@resist.ca. For info on critical mass in other cities,
see www.critical-mass.org.

No leaders!
No cars!
Ride a bike, stop the war!
Two wheels are better than four!


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