Seattle police violently break up Critical Mass on January 31; five riders go to jail

Special Mass TODAY, Feb 7, 5:30 @ Westlake

Update as of Thursday, February 6:

Update as of Wednesday, February 5:

Update as of Tuesday, February 4:
  • TALK ALL YOU WANT: clearing up mixed messages from David Lorenz and some admonishment from a couple of journalist friends have persuaded me that it's okay to talk to the media about what happened last Friday. Please still send affidavits to ABC Legal Messenger Service / Attn: Ron Bellick / 601 3rd Ave / Seattle, WA 98104-1829, or call Ron at 206-623-8771 x3240. Also, if you told any members of the press to withhold your quotes from an article, call them back (if it's not too late) and give them permission to use them again! The less we talk about what we saw at Mass, the more the official police version will dominate the media coverage, and the harder it will be for the press to do its job of presenting many sides of the issue. (My serious apologies to Karen, for whom this mistake of mine caused some big hassles.)

  • AS A RESULT, I have posted other witnesses' accounts of Friday night.

  • FILING COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE POLICE: I visited the Internal Investigations Section of the Seattle Police today and talked with the officer that is handling the investigation into the events of Friday night. He said that he had already been contacted by several people about the evening's conflict, and would like to hear from as many people as are concerned that something was wrong with police behavior. They will accept complaints in person on the 8th floor of the Dexter Horton Building (2nd btw Cherry and Columbia) downtown; by telephone (voicemail after hours) at 206-684-8797; or in writing to Seattle PD / Internal Investigations Division / Attn: Sgt. Ron Leavell / 710 2nd Ave, Rm. 850 / Seattle, WA 98104.

  • ARRAIGNMENTS WEDNESDAY: in the cases of Tobin Iles, Cesily Secoolish, and James Bryant, there will be hearings Wednesday at the King County Courthouse at 2:30 pm. Arrive early to find out which courtroom.

  • GOOD COVERAGE FROM KUOW: Local NPR affiliate KUOW produced a long (3 minute?) piece about Mass that aired a few times Tuesday, including right after the 7am NPR national news. Bill Radke has been noticably formal while reading the short "news" about last Friday, showing in his voice that he couldn't believe that cyclists had attacked cops with bike pumps. The feature piece on Mass was done by reporter Robert Smith. If you want to call KUOW to request a copy of the tape or thank Smith, call Program Director Ross Reynolds at 543-2710, or send email.

  • THANKS TO ANDY KERRIGAN: Some of you have requested a mailing address for Andy Kerrigan, the owner of ABC Legal Messengers and the man who put up bail for four of the riders and is backing up their cases by hiring an investigator. He can be reached at the same address given for ABC above.

  • ON TALKING TO THE MEDIA, SAYS ONE PERSON: "Withholding key specifics from reporters will not prevent stories from running. All it will do is tip the scales further against the accused, the powerless, the progressive. The cops will provide specifics every time, and so will prosecutors. Just take a look at the sorry-assed journalism of the evening TV news. Every other sentence begins with 'Prosecutors say...' If you don't tell it like it is to the press, if you bullshit like some corporate PR stooge, you're just gonna piss the good journalists off, and give the lazy ones the excuse they need to leave out major portions of the story."

Update as of Monday, February 3:
  • The Info Hotline is at 522-4517.

  • Tobin Iles was released today on $600 bail (the lowest of the five) and under investigation of two counts of felony assault in the third degree (the most serious charges of the five).

  • Iles, Cesily Secoolish, and James Bryant will all be arraigned THIS WEDNESDAY at 2:30 pm at the King County Courthouse. Get there a little early to find out which courtroom.

  • David Lorenz and Chris Heitman will face misdemeanor charges. Hearing set for Wednesday, Feb 19 at 7pm. Same place.

  • Though I sent out a call for personal accounts of what happened on Friday night in order to post them on the Web site, (and received quite a response, thank you!), I will not be publishing them. Since four of the five arrested work for ABC Legal Messenger service, ABC's owner-saint Andy Kerrigan has put an investigator on the case full-time to figure out just what happened. The investigator has suggested that if, rather than spread several slightly different stories around about exactly what happened on Friday night, everyone send in a signed affidavit detailing their experience to the investigator, ABC might be able to build a better defense. In other words, if there are several conflicting reports of the evening's details floating around in the press, it will be easier for the prosecution to dismiss such reports since "nobody seems to be agreeing with anyone else."

  • So, when talking to media about the incident, feel free to speak generally about the conflict, but try not to get specific about details that others might have seen differently. And, by all means, be as positive about Critical Mass as possible. It's a fun ride, not an in-your-face protest, remember? The accused, especially, should keep a low profile with regard to quotes and such until the charges are dropped.

  • Direct all inquiries about affidavits, testimony, witnessing, and how to put in your own two cents to Mr. Ron Bellick, (206) 623-8771 ext 3240. I'll try to get a mailing address and fax number up here soon. Be sure to include your name, signature, phone number, mailing address, and any other pertinent information on all of statements submitted.

  • Bring a video camera or still camera to this Friday's ride.

Update as of Sunday, February 2:
  • Another Mass to occur THIS FRIDAY, February 7, at the usual time and place

  • Only Bucky's messenger Tobin Iles remains in jail; ABC messengers Chris Heitman, David Lorenz, Cesily Secoolish, and James Bryant have been released

  • Iles will be arraigned on Monday downtown; to find out the time of his hearing, phone 386-1532

  • A dozen people met today at the Black Cat to talk about response tactics using the press, future rides, and brainstorm other actions; meeting Monday at the Black Cat, time TBA

  • Bryant and Secoolish are under investigation for (but have not yet been charged with) third degree felony assault

  • Heitman and Lorenz were each charged with four misdemeanors

  • Temporary Mass information line set up at 522-4517

On Friday, January 31, 1997, Critical Mass began as usual in Seattle, with about five or six dozen cyclists gathering downtown for a friendly ride through the streets. Almost an hour into the ride, the Seattle police showed up. Within about ten minutes, five riders had been violently arrested, many cyclists had been pepper-sprayed, and three news cameras had shown up.

This web site will serve as a continually updated repository for information about the aftermath of the evening's events. If you have information or a personal account of Friday's events that you would like posted here, mail the maintainer.

Currently available:

Pic of crashing cars.

Last Friday of the month -- 5:30 PM -- Westlake Center

  Next Ride: Januray 31, 5:30pm, Westlake Center  

What is Critical Mass?

Critical Mass is an organized coincidence. It happens when a lot of cyclists happen to be in the same place at the same time and decide to cycle the same way together for a while. Very often, those taking part enjoy it so much that they decide to get together at the same place and time the next month and the month after and so on, and to get other cyclists to join as well. Perhaps this excellent brochure will enlighten you.

What is the Goal of Critical Mass?

There is no such thing as one "goal" of Critical Mass. There are as many goals and philosophies as there are participants. Each individual comes with his or her own idea of what it's all about, and the sum of these makes up the Mass. Some goals include:
  • Creating a car-free space in the center of our cities
  • Creating a vision and experience of a possible future
  • Enjoying the great outdoors
  • Having fun
  • Meeting friends
  • Raising the profile of cycling in towns and cities
Some things may feature more strongly than others, but any combination of the aims above and lots of others can be reason enough for anyone to come to CM.

Who are the Organizers of Critical Mass?

There are  no organizers. Nobody is in charge. What happens on a Critical Mass ride is entirely up to the individuals participating. Some people may photocopy leaflets suggesting a route for the ride, but no one has authority over anyone else. The more people that get involved, carry signs, bring their friends, share ideas, food, cheer, or whatever, the better the Mass.

Is Critical Mass Legal?

Is riding a bicycle legal? Critical Mass has been known to push the limits of traffic laws, sometimes deliberately blocking intersections and running red lights in order to keep the Mass together. The police usually turn up, and what results is strictly a matter of the cops' mood and the behavior of the Mass participants on that particular day. Check out the laws governing bicycles in Washington State. Others have suggestions on how to behave at Mass.

Where Else Do They Do This Critical Mass Thing?

It started four years ago in San Francisco. Now it's in Portland and Austin and Washington, DC. And Edinburgh, Sydney, Brisbane, Zurich, Ottawa, and tons of other places.

Anything Else?

Yes. Wouldn't you rather have this than this? And were you aware of the full costs of your car?

Check out an article about us in the University of Washington Daily!

This page created and maintained by someone who loves bicycles. If you have suggestions or have a link to add to this page, mail me. To get on a phone list to be reminded of upcoming Masses, mail the same address.
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