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The CM182 defence meeting

A report from the CON-initiated meeting to help establish a defence campaign for the Critical Mass 182

As reported before, the police – in a fit of Olympics-induced hysteria – arrested 182 cyclists on the regular monthly Critical Mass bike ride on 27 July. So the Counter Olympics Network initiated a meeting – which took place last Thursday evening – to help establish a defence campaign, in liaison with Green and Black Cross.

Around 100 people turned up, including many of the arrestees that Green and Black Cross (GBC) had already made contact with, as did – and this was an especially valuable aspect of the meeting – some of the 182 who weren’t already in touch with GBC. (GBC have taken on defence co-ordination, at least to the extent of trying to trace people, getting them in touch with one another, and linking them up with appropriate lawyers.)

There were also people at the meeting from 3 different legal firms who’ve taken on some of the 182 [though there’s at least one more firm involved too], together with other Critical Massers, CON people, and others – including a few from groups that work on issues of activist support, the right to protest, etc (though if was acknowledged that CM rides aren’t generally considered to be protests as such).

There was an introduction to the legal issues surrounding the police’s purported use of the Public Order Act, and discussions of related issues – including news of a successful challenge to the bail conditions by one arrestee already. The solicitors at the meeting are all currently giving advice on these cases free, and will continue to do so at least up to and including any further challenges to bail conditions – such challenges being generally thought to be a good idea.

There was discussion of the possible roles of a defence campaign, and of its importance in terms of other CMers not arrested last time, as well as in terms of its wider political and policing significance. But there was agreement that launching a more general defence campaign would be kept on hold pending an arrestees-only [plus GBC] meeting, which is being organised by GBC any day now – since any campaign around the arrests needs to be done with the views and interests of those arrested having priority.

The most important thing we can all do right now (apart from generally making a fuss about the police behaviour in any forums open to us, and of course ensuring that the turn-out on the August CM ride is absolutely massive) is to spread the word in any direction which might reach arrestees, since some are still not in touch with the main bulk of others from the 182.

So please push this message out:
If you were one of the 182 cyclists arrested on 27 July, and aren’t already in touch with GBC, then e-mail gbclegal@riseup.net as a matter of urgency.

 

Filed under: policing, policing & civil liberties, transport

Defence campaign for the Critical Mass 182

A meeting to help establish a defence campaign for the Critical Mass 182 – Thursday 9 August

Most people will know about Critical Mass bike rides, and about what happened in London last month. If you don’t know: read the next two paragraphs. If you do: skip this next section!

[Critical Mass is an international phenomenon. In London, these rides have been taking place every single month for 18 years; cyclists meet at the same time (6-6.30pm) and place (on the South Bank, under the south end of Waterloo Bridge) on the last Friday of the month. CM is hard to define: the rides aren’t really a protest, perhaps they’re more a celebration of cycling, and an assertion of the right of cyclists to move freely and safely around London. There’s no structure; no-one is in control; routes and destinations aren’t planned in advance; anyone turning up on a bike is an equal part of CM. Rides are generally peaceful and self-regulating. The police have mostly ignored the rides in recent times.

But on the last ride, on 27 July – which attracted a typical summer crowd of many hundreds of the usual cross-section of cyclists – large numbers of police turned up in a spirit of Olympic hysteria. Some of the police busied themselves giving pieces of paper to some (but far from all) of the cyclists present. The paper purported to ban the cyclists from going anywhere north of the river. Most of the cyclists eventually did cross the river, however, and many hundreds of them went via Stratford on their travels. A lot of cyclists from one of the batches that went to Stratford were rounded up by police there (as were some cyclists who happened to be in the area and had nothing whatsoever to do with Critical Mass). Including a handful of arrests of cyclists elsewhere, a grand total of 182 cyclists ended up in custody that night. There are some reports at the (unofficial – of course! – since Critical Mass has nothing “official”, by definition) CM site. Now read on…]

Supporting the CM 182

At a meeting of Counter Olympics Network organisers on Wednesday, the 182 CM arrests were naturally a cause of concern. It was noted that, amongst the many issues underlying CON, there has always been awareness that police might use the excuse or the context of the Olympics to try some heavy-handed policing. What happened to Critical Mass seemed a prime example of this fear being realised.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: events, policing, policing & civil liberties, transport


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