Reflections on the
August 29th Ride

August 29th, 1997
10:25 PM

The ride is over. I monitored it on a police radio scanner all night with Eugene Hill. No trouble. No arrests. The police and the media couldn't find a problem - and they were they looking hard.

This time the riders knew they had no escort so they adapted and did what they have done for five years - ride safely.

It was beautiful and as one person commented at the end of it all: "The old magic is back!"

After the glow of the celebration is over, let's consider what this ride has proven:

The trouble on the last ride can be attributed to the simple fact that police management - possibly under direct order from Mayor Willie Brown - pulled the escort without warning or notice. This left thousands of people thinking they could go through red lights at intersections legally - as the police had been instructing them to do on every other ride. And who was painted with the blame? The mayor for his meddling? Captain Martel for his incompetence? Chief Fred Lau for ordering random violence against people on Market Street? No. We all know who the news media, in their surpreme ignorance, blamed.

The July ride is a '97 story of the arrogance of Willie Brown (a man who is dividing and undermining San Francisco for personal gain), police management ineptitude corrected by brutality ordered from the top, and the slander of 5,000 good people who were betrayed and put at risk by their local government - all under the cover of a grossly incompetent, and in some cases malicious, performance by the owners of the local news media.

When the well deserved party to celebrate this beautiful ride is over:

  • Let's not forget the individuals who are still facing criminals charges based on police perjury.
  • Let's not forget Willie Brown's sabotage of a positive, peaceful event.
  • Let's not forget Captain Martel's threats before the ride - and his participation in last month's Market Street riot (Yes, he was there and we've got him on video.)
  • Let's not forget that Chief of Police personally ordered police to don riot gear less than 60 minutes after July ride began - based on what?
  • Let's not forget the orgy of ignorant cyclist bashing engaged in by every media outlet in the city.
  • And let's not forget the two cylists who died this week and their families. I don't think it's a stretch to attribute their deaths at least partially to the atmosphere of fear and loathing created by Willie Brown, the management of the SFPD, and the local news media.

    But enough heavy stuff.

    The old magic is back. The nature of the event is revealed - again.

    Coming next: September 26 - The Fifth Anniversary of Critical Mass

    Special thanks to the many readers from all over the world who sent their good wishes to the riders in this month's ride.


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