Saturday, August 26, 2006

Stretched for Excuses

When you have undercover officers (who fail to identify themselves as such) clotheslining Critical Mass riders off their bikes, dragging them to the paddy wagon, and beating them up in a Public Safety Building holding cell, you better show that you have good reason for doing so--something with more weight than just "because we thought we could get away with it". That is why in a city where the police force is 'stretched for resources', such great effort went in to babysitting Critical Mass yesterday afternoon. That is why a force that has a not-so secret problem of inability to respond to calls (you know, crimes) in a reasonable time used at least thirty officers to control a peaceful bike ride.

To the Tom Brodbecks of the city--their opinions undeveloped and misinformed--the resources that tax-paying citizens spent on babysitting Critical Mass will of course be the cyclist's fault; like their presence actually requires that many police officers. Yet in March, at the first Critical Mass ride of the year, 75-100 cyclists rode through downtown unescorted and without incident. In June and July, after the notorious and brutal May ride, a handful of bike patrol officers rode with us, both times without any real incident (except last month's made-up one). Yesterday, with one officer for every five or six cyclists, Critical Mass riders still did the number one thing that raised the ire of so much of the motoring public, and what prompted the police to clamp down on CM in the first place: hold up traffic by going through traffic lights en masse. Traffic behind us was just as slowed down, too, since police kept cyclists to the right lane(s), but their cruisers occupied the left lane(s), meaning no one was able to drive past us anymore than they were in previous masses, where cyclists occupied all lanes going one direction. (On Corydon, both directions of traffic were blocked because as CM occupied the eastbound lane, police cruisers occupied the westboud.) As a result of riders being kept to the right, the mass was thinned out, stretching a greater length, and thereby holding up motoring traffic longer.

I don't know how much more redundant and embarassing this can get. If it's OK for Critical Mass to ride through traffic lights and hold up traffic in August, why the brutal opposition to doing so back in May? Why devote a significant portion of your Force to watch, corrall, videotape (hello, Orwell), a peaceful group of 200 bike riders when 400 did so two months ago with just a small number of bike police along? It's too bad the police have been unable to answer those questions, and that the mainstream media has failed to ask them.

8 Comments:

Anonymous nils said...

what?! cruisers?! i'm sad i missed this gong show of a ride (i was in calgary at the time). another great display of the planning committee behind the wpg police force. I guess it's a lot easier to follow cyclists instead of chasing crime.

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah gong show is right! Which is exactly what Critical Mass is......a complete joke.....how sad the powers that be with the Winnipeg Police SERVICE (not force as you say) have caved in and allowed these useless pieces of garbage to tie up people WHO ACTUALLY HAVE JOBS AND PAY TAXES.

Stay in Calgary...we don't need more of you morons here.

It is so easy for you to criticize police and allege all kinds of garbage. If any of these anarchists were treated with a heavy hand, they deserved it! They obviously have no respect for law and order and only seek to create chaos. Get a life, graduate from university (a 4 year degree should not take 8 years to get), join the real world and move out of your parents house. Pay taxes like everyone else and then you can complain.

3:10 PM  
Anonymous nils said...

Hey Anonymous.. if that is your real name,

Did the WPS cave in to Sunday Night Cruise? That happens every single week throughout the summer and holds up more traffic than any Critical Mass ride ever has. It once took me 30 minutes to drive from St James and Portage Ave to Portage and Main several years ago (while I still had a car which I paid for in cash - I'm a taxpayer with a job) because there were hundreds of loud and erratically driven cars all over the street. The Police have the sense to not babysit a bunch of car-drunk gear heads with 30 officers, so how come they target cyclists when they tell them it's fine to go through a red light in order for the whole group to stick together?

I'm thankful my office job hours are from 8-4 which meant I could go home and drop off my money making clothes and fill up my water bottle, so I could become the anarchist I so obviously am, and attend two rides this summer.

It's a shame my wife couldn't make it out to any Critical Mass rides, (yep, i'm married.. pretty impressive for a moron) but she was busy with work everytime there was a ride.

I've already accomplished a bit of the tips you have for me. I moved out of my parents house over 5 years ago, and I'm in my 2nd year of University... 8 years would be too expensive, even for an anarchist.

Oh, and you obviously don't work for revenue Canada because they take their fair share of my money away.

Oh, and another thing... I heard that only one "anarchist" was treated with a heavy hand this past ride... but I'm sure it took 30 officers to handle him heavily so then the police presence was justified! hooray for good planning! they really should have sent out notices that the city will be 10% safer because at 5:00pm on August 25th the police will be escorting cyclists to make sure they don't suddenly turn into a terrorist organization and somehow start killing motorists with their two wheels and styrofoam helmets.

sarcasm aside, i understand the annoyance from motorists. however, the retaliation of the WPS is uncalled for and is a poor use of our taxes when "the Service" is already stretched thin.

1:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Nils if that is your real name....again, have you even checked what you are saying?

Or do you blindly just accept that the WPS only has officers at the Critical Mass rides? Yes the service is stretched thin. But you have no idea how or why. The officers that are assigned to Critical Mass are not in a general patrol capacity. Meaning the calls that occur, they are NOT assigned to. They are assigned to this "ride" as CM states which is a disorganized attempt at holding up traffic in the name of "promoting cycling"

There are dedicated officers for Sunday Night Cruise night as well...all these things take resources out of areas where the police could be more proactive. If not for the anarchistic idiots of CM and the moron "cruisers" these officers could be freed up.

Just for the record, think about what you say about the police the next time you need them...police are the men and women who are running towards the guy with the gun (or knife or what have you) ....regular citizens are the ones running away! Police are the ones who go to scenes and calls you would not even think of in your worst nightmare.

You obviously have no appreciation for them and you live in your own little world here in Winnipeg....or have you not noticed the crime here?

4:57 PM  
Anonymous Drew said...

Anonymous (still no name)

Are you not making exactly the same point that Nils is making? I believe that Nils was just commenting on the sheer number of police officers when in the past the ride has happened peacefully no officers assigned. Perhaps you could then enlighten us as to why 35 police officers are "assigned" to a bike ride?

I believe that the best way to learn about critical mass is to talk to the participants and perhaps ride in one yourself. If you are
interested I would love to ride with you at the end of the month (Sept 29). That way you could truely form an opinion based on a first hand account and not one that you seem to have formed due to what you have read or watched on television. It is unfortunate that you have based your opinion of the critical mass participants on the actions of a few people.

I am not sure why you feel as if you are an expert on the matter of policing and feel qualified to judge whether or not they are appreciated by nils.

9:50 PM  
Anonymous nils said...

hi anonymous,

yes, nils is my real name.

yes, i do have an appreciation for the police who are dedicated to protecting our city. and i agree that they tend to calls that i couldn't possibly imagine, but sadly there were 30 police officers who might not have been able to tend to one of those "nightmare calls" because they were taken away from "general patrol" and put on "supervising critical mass" duty. i don't know my police terminology, but I do know from all the newspaper articles that there was an unecessarily large police presence at the last ride. that is poor planning.

12:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So now you're saying the media coverage was biased towards the police?

If you simply watched any footage (by media or by the CM riders) of the May ride, you won't see 30 or 35 officers there. All tactics and uses of force to effect any arrest that day looked, by watching footage, justified. Any other officers called were called to assist the (few) officers who were assigned.

Because of this, it was obviously decided that more officers were needed at the next one as so less problems occurred.

THE BOTTOM LINE IS: IF THE FEW WHO BROKE THE LAW AND REFUSED TO STOP FOR POLICE AND/OR FOUGHT OFFICERS, THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR THE 30 OFFICERS YOU SPEAK ABOUT ESCORTING THE RIDE IN SUBSEQUENT RIDES!

The officers that are assigned to the CM ride have nothing to do with general patrol as said before. They are assigned from other units (the temporary bike patrol that is formed in summer) etc. They are not the units who attend the calls for service, so to say that the units at the Ride could be used elsewhere is a moot point.

Nils says that he read in the newspaper that there were 30 officers at the Sept 29 ride. And that "was poor planning" Well last I checked, the newspaper is part of the media where apparently no one is to glean info from.


Drew says that rides occurred peacefully without officer presence.....REALLY? when?

As for feeling that Nils does not appreciate police, is it not a little obvious in the way he criticizes?

All that is said about them is that they should not be around and that their presence is not really justified. In one post he says:

"I heard that only one "anarchist" was treated with a heavy hand this past ride... but I'm sure it took 30 officers to handle him heavily so then the police presence was justified! hooray for good planning! they really should have sent out notices that the city will be 10% safer because at 5:00pm on August 25th the police will be escorting cyclists to make sure they don't suddenly turn into a terrorist organization and somehow start killing motorists with their two wheels and styrofoam helmets"

In the next post he then says he appreciates them but that it is poor planning to have them around at the CM ride.

What way do you want it here? Until the "few people who break the laws" start obeying as well as be civil and courteous to people who drive, the police HAVE to be there.

Everyone has a right to protest and voice opinions but not a right to impede others and disturb their lives.

And lastly, how would any of you know that the person posting may actually have a first hand knowledge of this and that opinions are not only taken from media?

6:46 PM  
Anonymous nils said...

Dear Anonymous,

First, it would be helpful to not have to write "Anonymous" over and over. If you feel so strongly about your point please use your name. I also think the personal attacking ("get a life, graduate", "we don't need more of you morons here" etc etc) is unecessary.

All I am saying is that I feel it was not necessary for 30 police to escort critical mass on August 25th because the previous rides in June and July ran smoothly and peacefully with less than half of the police present for the August ride.

10:43 PM  

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