Police Harassment, Intimidation and Assault on Cyclists Perceived as Opponents to Mayor Willie Brown

The untold story behind the
police attacks on Critical Mass

(4) Eye Witness Reports

The untold story behind the police attacks on Critical Mass

Report 1

Source: Name withheld

On Friday July, 25th at 6:45pm, I rode with a large group down Bryant. My fellow rider, a black woman wearing a Wille Brown mask on the back of her helmet, was singled out for harrassment by Police. Motorcycle police rode through bikers from behind at fast speeds and cut her off by pulling diagonally in front of her and suddenly stopping. She responded, "please be more careful" and the police replied "Kiss my ass bitch" in her face. The motorcycle police blocked her way. Thankfully, she said "have a nice a day" and rode around him without further incident.

Report 2

Source: Pedestrian - Name withheld

(This man's eye witness account is currently being transcribed.)

On Market Street near Powell, he reports a policeman approaching a cyclist with a Willie Brown mask, asking him "you think that's funny?", knocking him off his bicycle to the ground, and putting him in a painful arm hold.

Report 3

Source: Name withheld

On July 25th, at about 7:45pm I was on my way to the Powell Street Bart station. I was riding in the opposite direction on the South side of Market Street and witnessed some of this activity. I saw groups of cyclists riding west bound in groups of 15 to 25 being pulled over by police. What was unusual was the remarks being made by the police over the loud speaker. It was something to the effect of " Pull over or be subject to arrest". Once they were stopped they were taken into custody.

Last week, I spoke to one of the mayors' aids. Trying to get some kind of answers and the only thing he would say was that the mayor was met with hostility from the cyclists at Justin Herman Plaza. I was there, there was no hostility, no body wanted to hear anymore of his comments, they just wanted to get on with the monthly ride.

Report 4

Source: Will Beuscher, San Francisco

The night BEFORE the July 25 ride, I was riding home from work, a daily commute between Ghirardelli Square and Haight-Ashbury. As I rode up Sacramento, west toward Presidio, I was pulled over and hassled by two San Francisco cops in a marked police car.

First, they rolled up as I approached Broderick, a snide voice calling, "You're gonna stop aren't you?" I said, "Yes", and came to about 2 miles per hour, looked both ways, and pedaled on. My super-bright front and rear red strobe lights announced clearly my presence to the totally empty Pacific Heights streets at one in the morning. They didn't like my 'rolling stop'; no mentioning, of course, that cars have much less peripheral awareness and much more massive potential danger in their combustion-spewing, road-hogging path (and also very often don't make it down under 5 mph as they cruise through these four-way STOPS).

The cops put the red roof lights on and I heard the click of the siren speaker, and they zoomed up yelling. I was totally polite, not wanting any trouble from either of these rather obese men, belligerent and abusive of me and the courtesy due a cyclist "OR ANY CITIZEN" on the road or in public. I said, "I'm sorry, I don't understand, I thought I'd stopped", fairly representing the norm of drivers in the city, and confident that no one could mistake me for any of the cyclists who do, unfortunately, race through intersections without regard to stops signs or lights or right of way. I am a very cautious rider. At 44, never having owned a car, always commuting and traveling on bike, I've had only one cycling accident with a car, when a man with a sheet of plywood over his rear window pulled over into me.

And the POINT IS, with regard to Critical Mass, that this harassment, the only one of it's kind against me since I moved here three years ago, happened THE NIGHT BEFORE the fiasco of police brutality and irresponsibility on July 25. So who's planning all this crap anyway?!? My anger seethes, each night as I ride home, now clearly an enemy of the police in a city which should be one of the models of urban cooperation and civic professionalism in our country. We are the third most lucrative tourist city in the US, so why are our police so incompetent and unkind? Why do they seem to lie like thugs, threatening some of the most progressive public transit thinking in the world with nothing more thought-out than weapons and badges and prejudice? They have stolen from me, at least for a time, some of the peaceful freedom of rolling through the streets of this beautiful city, and it is not theirs to steal.

The untold story behind the police attacks on Critical Mass

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