September's ride saw the first mass arrests in Chicago's Critical Mass.
Since I am now attempting to put video on the Web I was planning on shooting video on this Mass. In order to make sure that I would be able to create a good stable platform for the camera on my BOB trailer I tried an number of different configurations. I settled on the bugee cord approach. When I arrived at the Picasso there was Urik and a couple of messengers. I was handing them a flyer with the URL for the streaming video (later, later). A bicycle officer then came over and asked me if that was the map. I told him no that it was not and that the important thing was not where we went but the fact that we were going. I then flyered him. I hope he liked the streaming video. I went back to attaching the tripod and camera to the trailer as more people massed. When the route did show up and was being passed out the Officer Stewart came by to get his copy. He was given one just as anyone else. Shortly thereafter Officer Stewart was seen to be reading the route map into his radio. Even some of the more seasoned riders thought this was to provide us with some support with the intersections. Indeed Officer Stewart did try to hold traffic at Lake Street. The only problem was that he was on the wrong side of the intersection. He was not standing where the cars were supposed to stop but the empty side of a one-way street. At this point I felt that we were merely being ushered out of the officers precinct and on to our ultimate destination, ours or his. He was nowhere to be seen on Michigan Avenue where Chicago's Finest have pretty much paid no attention to us in the past.
As with any ride that I am shooting pictures I really have no idea where we are going and I just rove around and shoot pictures. This was especially the case with my first Mass with the video camera. Since riding in the San Francisco Mass I have become more aware of traffic laws and have been trying not to run lights and stop signs. Cars are an unfortunate reality and we must learn to co-exist with them until the oil runs out or becomes a true luxury item. When I heard the the Police car's siren I immediately pulled to the curb and stopped. Just before this point I had just panned the camera to a new position that was shooting forward past me. Though this won't be popular and we have to deal with it, the video plainly shows riders well over the double yellow. I knew that there were arrests going on just up the street and we truly wanted to impede the right-of-way that an emergency vehicle is to be given , we must also know that we want an emergency vehicle to be able to respond to a real emergency that involves a life or death situation.
The bottom line is that I did not see what precipitated the arrests but feel that the police had picked the impeding the flow of traffic and pedestrians charge and the mob action charges well in advance and just waited for the light to turn red and start grabbing up people. This should be no surprise to any of us. To the police we represent Anarchy and they feel that they are the defender of the status quo and thus their duty to quash us. The next time they will be ready to grab 300 if necessary. I do not say this frighten anybody away but just as a matter of fact. We do have ways of countering their measures and we will employ the highest of technology to evade their grasp. At the same time we will be attempting to obey all traffic laws which will also have an adverse effect on the autobound. Remember your lights and reflectors.
Critical Massers and our movement will one day be seen as the protectors of the planet. Just think of how many bicycles could be built with the material in just one car?!?
The next ride is our Halloween ride. Last year this was one of the rides that was the most joyous. My friend David is coming back to Chicago to ride with us. Decorate yourself and your bikes!
Since I was shooting video this month my friend Ed was shooting pictures with the digital camera.
Riders On The Road
If you look not too hard you can see me with my video camera
mounted in the BOB.
Buy one of these trailers and you will never run out of things to do with it!
As Ed is always thinking on his toes he remembered that I like making digital art out of photos of Police Officers. Who knows why, I think that it may be my feeble attempt to have some control over the constabularies. None the less Ed shot a good one that was replete with taxi cabs
This picture was shot on the Magnificent Mile (North Michigan Ave., see above). I think it goes a long way towards showing how easy going these officers are in their attitude towards the Mass. Smile and Wave when you go by while thinking about all of those Officers stuck in their hot cars all day.
We will have to forgive Ed for not shooting more pictures at
this point. The scene was just like you would see on Cops, lots of action and
chaos. I have worked as a TV news photographer and knew exactly where to go
to get picture without getting busted. Ed was right in the middle of the group
that the cops kept grabbing people out of. I don't blame him for not sticking
his camera in the cops face. In the future it will behoove us to have as many
cameras going in the Polices face as possible. This pandemonium was created
by the Police not the Mass as we would have been through the intersection in
about a minute and a half. Really not much more time than those last few cars
that always think it is their god-given right to make the left hand turn after
the light turns red against them.
The hands you see in these two pictures were being clapped to the chant of "Bikeings not a Crime"
You will be able to see many more pictures and the whole incident once I digitize all of the video and post it to the web.
The 18Th. Precinct
After the Ambush the Mass splintered. Lots of people formed little groups and decided which bar they were going to. Others headed home. Two more distinct Masses went on indirect routs to the 18Th. precinct to show our support, cause trouble, have fun, you pick your reason. We were chanting again here at the Police Station.
At this point my camera batteries died and we started to head out. TC chased us down at North Avenue Beach and was really excited about the news showing up but I really felt that they would be long gone by the time we got back there. The next day Travis and I went to Channel 7 and 5 and they duped our tape but the Cubs were such big news we landed on the cutting room floor. Travis and I did make some good contacts. The real inside scoop is that the ABC7 folks were friendly and the NBC5 folks were not, my personal opinion
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