The police action against Critical Mass was calculated to chill the free speech rights of those planning protests against the Republican National Convention.
Communities United Against Police Brutality strongly condemns the violent attack by Minneapolis police on bicyclists riding as part of last night’s Critical Mass. For simply enjoying the beautiful weather by riding their bicycles legally down the street, these riders were subjected to beatings, false arrests, clouds of noxious chemical irritant, destruction of their property and wholesale violations of their rights. As a result of this unprovoked attack, nineteen were arrested, including a number of bystanders. Some individuals were tased while handcuffed. Eight people were beaten so badly they were taken straight to the hospital.
Opinion: Critical Mass arrests were political
A legal worker with CUAPB was in the jail last night to meet with arrestees. Based on those meetings, it appears that people with cameras were particularly targeted, with a number of people reporting that their cameras were taken and destroyed. We are outraged at these efforts by police to avoid accountability for their unprovoked attack on the bicyclists.
While Critical Mass is a free standing activity, some of the participants in last night’s event are involved in this weekend’s PreNC conference for planning protests against the 2008 Republican convention. Participation in the Critical Mass activity had been pegged as a kick off to the PreNC conference. Given the presence of a police helicopter and the large numbers of police officers from the onset, it seems clear that the brutal attack on Critical Mass by Minneapolis police was carefully planned in advance and was calculated to intimidate the community and chill the free speech rights of those planning protests against the Republicans.
We stand in solidarity with the participants of Critical Mass, including those planning to protest the 2008 Republican convention. Let it be known that this and other tactics by police to crush free speech rights will not work–we are even more determined to defend the rights of community members speaking out against all forms of oppression even as we raise our own voices to condemn the police-state measures perpetrated on these protestors by police.
We demand all charges be dropped on the Critical Mass arrestees. Further, we demand an independent investigation of police conduct in this incident be held, with public reporting of the results. We will not allow this blatant violation of civil and human rights by police to go unchecked.
A so-called “free speech” working group has been secretively meeting at city hall to enact draconian measures aimed at clamping down on all free speech. Will this police attack on a peaceful assembly be used to justify these proposed measures? We urge all community members to make their voices heard at the next meeting of this working group, which will be on Wednesday, September 12, at 11:00 a.m. in room 333 of Minneapolis city hall.