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Police Turn the Bike Strike Into a Tour de Force (LOL)(5 posts)

Police Turn the Bike Strike Into a Tour de Force (LOL)MB1
Sep 28, 2002 3:37 PM
By David Montgomery
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 28, 2002; Page C01

The anti-capitalist "Bike Strike" got off to a late start early yesterday morning because, it was whispered, the guy who knew the secret route had a flat. Bummer.

So there on the soggy plaza outside Union Station, the Radical Biker Cheerleaders -- a popular posse of raucous rhymesters with bad attitudes -- stalled for time. "Only when I'm biking do I feel this free-hee," they sang in a parody of Madonna. Then they rapped about politics: "Every vote counts -- except yours and yours and yours."

Media members, who nearly outnumbered the bikers as dawn broke slimy and gray, also killed time, interviewing the bikers, interviewing their colleagues, interviewing themselves.

Commuters in suits and American flag pins picked their way around the bikers and the reporters, scrupulously avoiding eye contact, as though not wanting to encourage crazy people.

And then there were the D.C. police. They had bikes, too. And you could tell that the D.C. police bikers thought this whole scene was a hoot. They straddled their two-wheelers across the street, watching, smiling sometimes. They could afford to be patient. The route may have been "secret," but the police had a pretty good idea how this adventure was going to end anyway. Everyone else was in for a surprise.

"On your bikes!" said one of the bike strikers. The flat must have been fixed.

They took off as one, like a school of guppies. The police followed close behind.

As the 75 protest bikers, the 40 police bikers and the 20 police motorcyclists cruised up North Capitol Street, there was time to wonder: What is an anti-capitalist Bike Strike?

Glad you asked.

A component of yesterday's "People's Strike" demonstration, the Bike Strike was conceived by organizers to focus on the evils of big oil, car culture, pollution, city congestion. Bikes, see, are a response to all of the above. Messages to that effect were stenciled on flags waving from the rear of the two-wheelers.

The Strike also was supposed to contribute to the larger aim of yesterday's demonstrations -- "shutting down" the city -- by slowing traffic as the riders meandered through the streets.

But spectacle looked like something else, a kind Tour de D.C. Not to get French about it, but the peleton, or pack, had two equipes, or teams, identifiable by their uniforms. Team Police wore synthetic fibers of royal and navy blue and rode smart white bikes. Team Anti-Capitalist wore natural fibers of faded blue and green, astride contraptions that had seen better days.

"They're sucking wind," a police biker chortled.

But it wasn't a race, really. It was more like a ceremonial romp at easy pedaling speed. Nor was it particularly disruptive. The police stopped traffic for the protesters, and the pack passed quickly enough that cars weren't kept waiting long.

The police bikers formed columns on both sides of the protest bikers -- escorting the Bike Strike on its merry way to its secret destination.

Although the bikers did not have a permit for a mass ride, the police did not tell them to break it up. Instead, police bikers politely made way when more protest bikers wanted to join.

Elsewhere in the city, tires were burning, windows were breaking, pepper gas was spraying.

David Roberts, an out-of-work videographer from Boston, said he could have joined some of the other protests, but "I really, really like bikes. I'd rather ride my bike in the city."

As the riders continued up North Capitol to K Street NW, a bystander on the sidewalk asked, "What are you biking for?"

"We're riding against tyranny," said Jenifer Deal, a Washington actress who this spring won a Helen Hayes Award for outstanding lead actress in "The Muckle Man" at Source Theatre.

Later, she elaborated: "I believe the internal combustion engine is a dinosaur," she said. "How better to illus
Sep 28, 2002 3:40 PM
Later, she elaborated: "I believe the internal combustion engine is a dinosaur," she said. "How better to illustrate that than by riding my bike that keeps me fit, doesn't pollute and helps me contact my fellow creatures?"

But does a Bike Strike make a difference?

"Any time people take to the streets to raise their voices for change, it is effective," Deal said.

And if city residents are inconvenienced?

One day of short-term inconvenience is all right to raise awareness about long-term problems, she said.

Not all agreed.

"Bomb Iraq!" yelled a man standing in the doorway of a paint store on K Street NW.

"What a bunch of idiots," said another man on the sidewalk.

Yet others cheered the bike strikers.

Whatever anybody else said, the looping ride through Shaw, Dupont Circle and downtown seemed to have the most energizing effect on the riders themselves. It was liberating to ride through the streets without cars in the way for a change, thanks to the helpful police escort.

And the police themselves -- an elite crew chosen for their fitness and love of bikes -- seemed to get a charge out of the 80-minute ride, too. They didn't say much, but they appeared content.

"Look at you on your bikes!" exclaimed one of the radical cheerleaders to her escorts as they crossed town on P Street NW. "You know it's a superior mode of transportation."

Indeed if the Bike Strike accomplished nothing else, it did prove the transcendence of the humble two-wheeler. Someone should coin an advertising slogan: "Recommended by four out of five police departments and protest cells."

At last the group reached Pennsylvania Avenue NW. The secret destination was Freedom Plaza at 14th Street, where a rally was planned, but the plaza was blocked by officers on foot. Instead, Team Police funneled Team Anti-Capitalist onto Pershing Park at 15th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Cool. A horde of non-biking protesters already in the park warmly greeted the bikers, who locked their cycles to trees and poles. They gravitated to an impromptu drum circle to dance and chill and be interviewed by more reporters.

They never saw it coming.

Suddenly Team Police formed a human wall around Pershing Park. The biker police were joined by horse-riding police and walking-in-black-body-armor police. Nobody could leave the park.


Team Anti-Capitalist had been duped!

The police marched into the park in long rows, using batons to herd demonstrators into a smaller and smaller space. Soon it was standing-room-only for the bike strikers and their comrades, on a small sliver of the west end of the park.

The police were silent, but it dawned on the strikers that they were about to go to jail. The charges would be parading without a permit or failure to obey an officer. D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey later said the mass arrests were justified because of the mayhem committed by some protesters and the intent of everyone to shut down the city.

"It's a travesty," Deal said, as the police closed in. "When I asked what I was being detained for, I got no answer. But when I tried to leave, I got shoved back into the park."

The bikers shared their sense of betrayal with other protesters who had arrived on foot.

"I am flabbergasted," said Joe Mayer, an attorney wearing a pinstriped suit and tie. He is a retired Army lieutenant colonel with 20 years in the service who had been walking to Freedom Plaza to protest war plans when police told him to go to Pershing Park. "I never imagined in my worst imaginings that my government would do this to me."

Most professional media members were allowed out. Jason Flanagan and Debra Kahn, reporters with the University of Maryland newspaper the Diamondback, were not so lucky. They had been reporting on the experiences of a group of protesting classmates. They gave their notebooks to a Washington Post reporter to take out with him so the ou
The finishing touch.....MB1
Sep 28, 2002 3:41 PM
They gave their notebooks to a Washington Post reporter to take out with him so the outside world would know what happened.

The bikers and the rest of the demonstrators were restrained in white plastic cuffs and loaded onto Metro buses. Then Team Police went through the park with bolt cutters, slicing the locks on the bikes of Team Anti-Capitalist. The bikes were tagged and stacked in the back of a big white truck and taken away.

The bike strikers would reach their final destination by internal combustion engine.

© 2002 The Washington Post Company
Here we go again...Bill B
Sep 28, 2002 4:02 PM
Welcome to "the land of the free", just don't disagree.
Funny - I love hypocrites270bullet
Sep 28, 2002 5:53 PM
"Riding against Tyranny"? Has to be the funniest quote I've ever read. That would be something an actress would come up with, or a Berkley lurking drop-out. Hilter and Stalin were tyrants.

Protesters like this are almost as funny as some white guy telling someone else to "get out of my country" while standing next to a Nez Perz, Crow, Ute, Sioux, Shawnee, etc.

I'm betting she was riding a manufactured bike - most likely welded (noxious fumes) (unless it was CF). Which means some industrial machine had to produce the aluminium, or steel, or ti tubes. That industrial machine had to refine the material which means it produced more polution.

If she was riding CF there was a manufacturing process that was used to produce the fiber, another to produce the epoxy, all poluting our world. Then she was probably wearing clothes, be they synthetic or natural fiber, which had to be produced or milled by some manufacturer. Then she was riding on rubber tires with rubber inner tubes - again manufactured.

After she is released from jail,
1. she'll go home, (built with lumber from old growth forests destroying our Forest lands).
2. turn on the lights (damming our rivers, destroying our salmon runs),
3. have a cup of coffee (enslaving coffee bean pickers in Columbia)
4. with cream (contributing to the mistreatment of cattle world wide),
5. watch TV (manufactured by poor, hard working chinese at sub-US standard pay rates),
6. Maybe take a shower (using more of our precious fresh water reserves)
7. Use shampoo and soap (poluting our remaing freshwater reserve with chemicals)
8. Get dressed, including a leather belt (made from the hide of some poor little cow).
and on, and on, and on,

These people may have ridden bicycles, but I bet most only road the bike for this event in hopes that they could get their mug on TV or quoted in the paper trying to say something intelligent. I guess they failed.

Land of the Free, even when you DO disagree. I disagree with a lot of stuff, I just don't break the law to do it.

"riding against tyranny". man that is funny.