The video shot by a tourist as the Manhattan Critical Mass bike ride made its way through Times Square July 25 shows cheering onlookers gasp as New York Police Department officer Patrick Pogan lunges toward cyclist Christopher Long and shoves him off of his bike.
“The video that you saw is a very clear video,” said fellow cyclist Judy in an interview with Houston Indymedia. “But, it’s really nothing surprising because that kind of violence has been documented before in Times Square and other parts of the city on the [bicycle] ride.”
Just one week after the video was purchased from the tourist and posted to YouTube July 27 by New York City-based environmental group Time’s Up!, it has been viewed online 1.3 million times and received more than 4,500 comments.
These comments continue a dialogue that has been ongoing in New York City since protests against the Republican National Convention in August 2004, when police attacked a Critical Mass ride of thousands of people and arrested hundreds of cyclists.
“Ever since then, the reaction of police to the ride has been over the top,” Judy said.
In 2006, the city continued to crack down on cyclists by requiring a permit for rides with more than 50 people.
“Unfortunately the July 25, 2008, incident is part of a pattern of targeting Critical Mass bike riders,” said civil rights attorney, Norman Siegel in a July 29 Times Up! press release. “Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly need to provide the necessary leadership to confront and resolve this issue.”
The Critical Mass bike rides bring attention to an increasing number of bicycle commuters in New York City. But even as the city’s Department of Transportation makes changes to accommodate them, police behavior towards cyclists remains the same.
“We’re seeing a lot more bike lanes and infrastructure, but the police have been slow to recognize this change,” said Bill DiPaola, executive director of Time’s Up!.
The video of Pogan shoving Long may force the city to take disciplinary action at least this one incident. NYPD has placed Pogan on modified assignment while he is investigated for possible misconduct. It is unclear yet if it will drop Long’s charges of attempted assault of an officer, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct.
Critical Mass rides on the last Friday of every month from the northeastern corner of Union Square, and is part of a global movement to celebrate and promote bicycle riding. The next ride is Aug. 29.
Read what The People’s Lawyer Ann Schneider has to say in her column, “Amateur Video Puts Police Perjury in Focus” in this issue of The Indypendent.