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Corporate Mofo reader/Fark mod Gwinny writes in:
I've done Critical Mass in the past—it's always been a great, peaceful way of taking over the streets via the best way of getting around Manhattan, the bicycle.
When I showed up this time, it was pretty clear things were going to be different. There were lots of cops on scooters who were handing out bike rules, for one thing. For another, there were about three times as many riders as normal.
We headed south with no incident, then west and up sixth Avenue. There were cops blocking us from going into Herald Square (a block from Madison Square Garden), so we headed east again, north on Madison then west on 55th Street. The whole way we were shouting anti-Bush slogans and were being cheered by 90 percent of the passerby.
At seventh Avenue, we headed south again and biked triumphantly through Times Square. I was pretty near the front of the group at this point, so I saw the leaders turn onto 42nd Street then turn back up onto Broadway, going the wrong way up the street to head back into Times Square. I didn't think this was a good idea. . . indeed, two bikers clipped cops on their bikes and were immediately wrestled to the ground and arrested. These were the first two arrests ever to take place during a Critical Mass protest.
I walked back across Times Square with my bike and rejoined the southward flow. We did ride past Madison Square Garden, chanting "NO BUSH!" at the top of our lungs. In the West Village we hung eastward to go to the East Village, our final destination. Thousands of bikers circled Tompkins Square Park a few times before heading over to St. Mark's Church on Second Avenue. By now the police presence was much more aggressive, heading down streets the wrong way to cut us off, etc. Second Avenue from 10th Street up to 13th and then eastward on that street was completely choked with bikers. I stood on a fence in front of St. Mark's Church and watched the spectacle until the police vans started to arrive .. . at this point I left, not wanting to be arrested and all. I guess I was lucky—not only were hundreds of arrests made there shortly thereafter, but apparently there were a number of arrests made along the route as well.
It was exhilarating to take part in such a huge movement of social upheaval. I am sure others will have more exciting stories than I do since I escaped completely unscathed, but I'm just glad to have participated