Still We Ride, a gripping new documentary by Andrew Lynn, Elizabeth Press, and Christopher J. Ryan, chronicles the NYPD crackdown on Critical Mass that began in August 2004. While the story is well known to the movie’s core audience, Still We Ride succeeds in adding dramatic visuals to a storyline that has mostly became a depressing litany of monthly arrest statistics.
One of the most gripping characters in the film is Paulette Giguere, who began the evening of the August 2004 Critical Mass ride celebrating her 50th birthday with a new bike and ended it locked up on Pier 57 and plastered across the front page of the New York Daily News. Paulette Giguere is so far from the picture of the usual hippie or punk activist that she gives lie to the NYPD portrayal of the ride. The filmmakers caught police officers on tape claiming that the Critical Mass was “infiltrated by the ACLU and other groups” and that it “has become an anarchist group.”
The power of the video image is both the greatest strength and weakness of Still We Ride. Over the course of the film, viewers come face to face with police brutality (including a dramatic standoff in front of St. Marks Church on 2nd Ave.), and an assortment of joyful bikers and colorful characters. After watching Still We Ride, it becomes clear just how pervasive the video camera has become at political protests. To some degree, the pictures determine the direction of the story. It would have been informative to see more about the early days of Critical Mass before it became so controversial.
These, however, are minor quibbles. “These guys won’t stop cars,” smirks one NYPD patrolman observing a Critical Mass ride. Probably true, but the highly entertaining Still We Ride may help stop the NYPD’s attack on a peaceful ride.