Critical Mass arrests in Minneapolis

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Police arrested nearly 20 people August 31, at a bike ride in downtown Minneapolis. The event, which drew hundreds of riders, was sponsored jointly by Critical Mass and the the pReNC anarchist and anti-authoritarian planning event taking place this weekend to plan for protests at next year’s Republican Convention. Critical Mass is a loosely-organized group of cyclists who stage monthly rides in Minneapolis to advocate reduced reliance on automobile transportation.

By all accounts, large numbers of police participated in the arrests, and many of the riders were sprayed with pepper spray or mace. Some of those arrested were charged with disorderly conduct and released, while others were charged with “rioting” and held. A thoughtful, eye-witness account from local writer Stephen Marsh concludes that the event “was a full-on dress rehearsal for the RNC.”

The Star Tribune article reports police accounts of the arrests, and police statements that they were provoked by cyclists. For a very different view, see the stories of cyclists and bystanders on the City Pages website, describing police using pepper spray and tasers and beating cyclists, without provocation. For another account of the events, see Twin Cities IndyMedia. For a large collection of photos, see this Flickr posting.