Photo Essay: Still We Speak Rally
Norman Siegel, a Democrat running for New York City Public Advocate, was the featured speaker at Friday's "Still We Speak" Rally at Manhattan's Union Square Park.
The big issue of the rally: free speech and the right of bikers in New York City. It's not what you think though, it's not about Harleys, it's about bicycles, and the right to ride them in New York City.
The rally had a impressive crowd, with local news TV station NY1 in attendance. It appears that in the past year, a number bikers have been arrested during mass rides in NYC, making this a potential "peaceable assembly" issue.
New York City Councilwoman Gale Brewer was also on hand, stating that she is supportive of city laws that...get this...would ban cars in Manhattan in favor of bikes. Good luck with that.
The organization is gearing up to an upcoming Critical Mass event. The international organization is geared towards a healthier environment through clean transportation. It sponsors monthly bike rides that have been the target of NYPD attention.
This woman was arrested "for riding a bike" in January. I don't remember much of her story, but she's a babe so I had to put her picture in here. I doubt she's my type though, as the girls I date don't tend to have criminal records (that I know of at least).
Ben Mauer of the War Resisters League, who was at the last rally, spoke against NYPD assistant police chief Bruce Smolka, who is leading the charge against the bike riders. He had a good speech about New York City being a police state and brought a lot of energy to the event.
Trudy Mason, a Democratic state committeewoman and a member of the C. Virginia Fields campaign for Mayor spoke to the crowd, cataloging the seven times she's been arrested. Man, New York City politics is just different from most places.
The event has more than a few interesting moments, and brought up an issue that I was not aware of. Is there more to the story? This is clearly more than just about bike riding, they are making a political point. Why is New York City cracking down on them? Is it more than just about traffic?
While the rally stayed close to the issue at hand, the crowd seemed to be a hodge podge of left wing activists, concerned about issues relating to free speech, the war, and environment.
The "Push Back" was a theme relating to the use of bikes on the streets, as well as the right to assemble in public spaces. Handouts, and the rally's press kit, noted that these bike rides have been taking place for 12 years now, and the NYPD has helped facilitate them in the past. Now, if I were more than just a blogger, and a real journalist, I'd probably call the NYPD to confirm. Since I'm not, and they probably wouldn't take my call, I probably will not (sorry).
However, the same handout notes that this is about permits, and organizations such as Critical Mass and Time's Up (another environmental bike riding group) would like to conduct them without the proper paperwork. Time's Up retorts that this is "selective enforcement", leading us to the conflict we have now.
The rally was not without entertainment, as the Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir turned the U.S. Bill of Rights into a mock-gospel-eque song, and...
...the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, which had someone dressed in green doing handstands. You can't beat that with a stick.
Visit Still We Speak's Website for more info.
Upcoming Critical Mass events.
More Photo Essays
More (and better) photos of the Critical Mass rally.
Overstated: The issue of bikes in NYC.
Still We Speak: old photos.
Critical Mass: photos.
Bike Blog calls the rally a success.
Critical Mass rides again! This one has photos of plainclothes police officers. Nice.
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