Sacramento Street

Though they were following illegal orders, all reports are that the vast majority of the police officers at the site of the mass arrest on Sacramento Street conducted themselves professionally and humanely.

The photos the press didn't show

  • Onlookers watch as riot police conduct a sweep arresting everyone in sight - pedestrians included - regardless of whether they have committed a crime or not. (Sacramento and Montgomery)
  • The police were positioned to keep people away from the scene of the mass arrests
  • Another view
  • Clubs drawn against pedestrian observers
  • Guarding the police wagons against pedestrian observers
  • Police eye the crowd warily as they load hancuffed bicyclists into police vans
  • A shot of the "criminals" waiting to be handcuffed
  • They signed on to "serve and protect," but Brown humiliates San Francisco police by ordering them to seize citizen's bicycles
  • But there are rewards for senior staff. Four city employees on a time-and-a-half joy ride
  • Our friends or foes? Just working people following what they thought were legitimate orders. Ask Mayor Brown why he ordered the police to arrest people who had done nothing wrong.

    (4) Eye Witness Reports

    Report 1

    I was one of the "Sac'to 100" -- one of the first into the paddy wagons, and I corroborate the accounts of others up on the page. In fact it was the police who were obstructing traffic, coming down Sac'to in the wrong direction to make the hit. The first words I heard any cop utter were those from the goon leading the thing, and those were "You are under arrest". Question: How can you be arrested for failing to disperse when you're not first ordered to, and furthermore can't because you're surrounded? Further, I think some First Amendment experts might have something to say about "the right of the people peaceably to assemble." And what about being held for almost 3 hrs in a 200+ sq.ft. holding cell without adequate ventilation with 35 other guys? Interesting. Let me know if I can help (and I need legal help!)

    Report 2

    Source: (name witheld at request of attorney)

    I was arrested on Friday for riding my bicycle.

    I have been a regular critical mass rider on and off for the past 4 years. Friday's ride was pure chaos (at moments ecstatic, at moments appauling), not something I wished for but something I was caught up in. When I left Justin Herman plaza to the polite wave of Mayor Brown I thought, naively now I see, that we WERE on the 'official' route. Two blocks later as the mass swung round onto Market St I realised we were not.

    Two hours later after some enjoyable cycling and some bad incidents of cyclists abusing motorists verbally or banging on car hoods, and motorists abusing cyclists and driving into cyclists with their cars. I found myself cycling with the mass along Market St, which was at this time in utter chaos, bikes, cars, police everywhere, no-one seemed to know what was happening. I followed the mass up Market St to where it turned left by the Hyatt Regency then left onto Sacramento St. While stopped at the lights I saw the incident that made me think it was time to go home. A pedestrian approx late 30s white male ran out from the crowded sidewalk and pulled a windscreenwiper off a car. He continued up the street and got in some sort of fracas with the police and some cyclists.

    When the light turned green I continued up Sacramento and then turned down Leisendorf(sp?) when requested to do so by a SFPD officer. I was on foot, wheeling my bike at this time. I turned down Leisendorf and was stopped by another SFPD officer who told me to go back onto Sacramento st. I informed him of the other officer's instructions, no response. I asked two other SFPD officers as to which direction I should take, neither responded.

    I continued to wheel my bike up Sacramento St, as I approached the traffic light at Montgomery I realised there was a cordon of riot police there preventing any further passage. I turned to try Leisendorf again but there was now a cordon of riot police there too. I then heard the SFPD via loud-hailer requesting us to disperse. A difficult thing to do when you are boxed in.

    We (approx 130-150 people) were informed that we were under arrest. We then waited approx 20-25 minutes during which time no officer answered any requests for information. What were the charges? What would happen to our bikes? Some cyclists turned their bikes upside down and wrote down the serial numbers. Some chained theirs to parking meters. Some panicked about being unable to make appointments later that evening. Overall I got the impression this was not the kind of crowd who have ever been arrested.

    I was the third person arrested. An officer approached me placed his hand on my shoulder an informed me I was under arrest for "obstructing traffic, failure to disperse and unlawful assembly." I smiled and was lead away. I was then photographed and asked for my name which I gave in order to assure that my bike would be identified as mine. There seemed to be great confusion amongst the officers as to the procedure for arresting us and what to do with our bikes. It doesn't fill you with great confidence when people who do this for a living don't seem to know what they are doing. Ten people where loaded in a police van, two women in the front smaller area and eight men in the rear. We arrived at Bryant St and were greeted with more of the same arrest confusion. I presume as the night wore on they got this process down.

    I was released just after midnight.

    And as an addendum, prior to my arrest when I was coerced into Sacramento St by the SFPD who refused to answer any of my questions about which way were supposed to be going. I WAS WALKING MY BIKE ON THE SIDEWALK, which as far as I know is not yet a crime or against ANY traffic laws. So please let's try and stay relavant to the actual facts. And isn't interesting to hear that 6 (six) people out of the 250 arrested were charged with assault. Now 6 out of 7,000. Warzone? Can we Say Hyperbole?

    Report 3

    Source: Jacob Tobias

    In Friday's Examiner, police chief Fred Lau promised to deal with those who break the law "on an individual basis." That is not at all what happened. Instead, the police blocked off at least one whole block of Sacramento and said, "Anyone who is on this block is under arrest." They confiscated our property, handcuffed us, and threw us in jail.

    Report 4

    Source: SF Examiner web site - Chuck Finney (never made the print edition)

    "It was pretty scary," said San Francisco resident Gary Burnore, an infrequent Critical Mass participant who found himself at the intersection of Sacramento and Montgomery streets when riot police converged.

    "No chance to disperse'

    "They didn't give us a chance to disperse," Burnore said."They picked us."

    A Wells Fargo Bank employee, Burnore, 39, said he had pushed off from Justin Herman Plaza at 6:15 p.m. Friday and assumed he was pedaling with a police escort.

    Some 2-1/4 hours later, said Burnore, he and a large splinter group he was with hit a police line at Sacramento and Montgomery streets.

    "We were just told to shut up and not move," he said. Police began impounding bikes and hauling riders off to County Jail.

    Arrested with Burnore was Jacob Tobias, 23, an Oakland resident and Alameda County Transit District employee who joined Critical Mass for the first time Friday.

    Tobias contends that police failed to distinguish between the law-abiding participants and the rabble-rousers.

    "Once the parade got off the agreed-upon route," Tobias wrote in a letter to Mayor Brown, "I became one of the most vocal advocates of stopping at the red lights. But I and many others who were following the traffic laws got arrested in a mass arrest."

    Police Chief Fred Lau said Monday that it was his understanding from command staff on the scene that police had acted appropriately.

    "The way it was told to me is that there were several orders to disperse, and that people were given plenty of opportunity to leave," Lau said. "When that didn't happen, police moved in and encircled them."

    Officials at the American Civil Liberties Union in San Francisco and the Office of Citizen Complaints, The City's police watchdog agency, said they'd received several reports alleging police misconduct and had launched investigations.

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