Trial opens of nine cyclists arrested at Critical Mass on night of Olympic opening ceremony

Accused were among 182 cyclists arrested in police operation

by Simon_MacMichael   February 25, 2013  

Image from twitter.com @MetPoliceEvents

The trial has opened this morning at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of nine cyclists charged with public order offences during a Critical Mass Ride on the evening of the Olympic Games opening ceremony on Friday 27 July last year.

The nine are among 182 cyclists arrested in three separate incidents on the evening concerned, one in Bow and another in Stratford, who were taken by bus to police stations throughout London and held for between six hours and two days, according to a website set up to support them, Justice for the Critical Mass 9.

There were plans for cyclists to stage a protest outside the court this morning to show their support for the nine who are standing trial.

It has been claimed that the police, who included officers drawn from police forces across the UK brought in for the Olympics, kettled cyclists and also used pepper spray on some of them.

The Justice for the Critical Mass 9 website has quotes from a number of cyclists arrested, including one who was simply riding by at the time: “I was cycling home (to watch the Olympic ceremony) when a Police Officer shouted ‘STOP’ and immediately pushed me off my bike.

“It took three weeks for the bruising on my hip and arm to fade, and two weeks for the bruising from the handcuffs to fade.”

Another said: “It wasn’t until about 8am the following day that I was finally taken to
the police station. By that point I was tired and hungry.

“The police
registered my arrival as being at 11.30pm or so the night before, which
was a lie as we were still sitting on buses at that time.”

Others spoke of how they spent hours without food or drink as well as being denied other basic needs: “Finally, at around midnight, an Inspector came onto the bus and told us he would address the toilet problem.

“His solution was that people could go one by one.  Not only this, but the police would stand in the toilet with the person using it. Monitored toilet trips.

“This started out ok, but two other buses joined the area equally full. This meant sixty people using one toilet over a four hour period.”

There is also a comprehensive eyewitness account on the Opendemocracy.net website by Kerry Anne Mendoza, one of the organisers of the Our Olympics campaign.

She saw the Critical Mass ride pass the bed and breakfast she was staying in at Bow, took to a Boris Bike to join in, and found herself caught up in the police operation.

It may have been the threat of action from the Our Olympics movement that Ms Mendoza was part of that led to police being on heightened alert.

The group, which encompassed members of the Occupy movement as well as people opposed to the involvement of businesses such as BP and McDonald’s in the Games, had said it would undertake actions of mass civil disobedience the day after the opening ceremony, Saturday 28 July, promising that “It's going to be a day we never forget.”

Prior to the Olympic Games, the Metropolitan Police had urged protestors to get in touch to enable a policing plan to be drawn up, with a spokesman saying: “We want to work with those who wish to protest so their point can be legitimately made, just as we are working closely with a range of agencies to ensure that the games can take place.”

In common with most Critical Mass rides around the world, the one in London, which began in April 1994, does not have organisers and is viewed by participants not as a protest but as a celebration of cycling.

It gathers at the South Bank on the last Friday of each month and heads off on an undefined route that will often take in locations such as Parliament Square.

In 2005, the Metropolitan Police sought to have ‘organisers’ submit a route for authorisation six days before each Critical Mass in London in line with Section 11 of the Public Order Act 1986.

One participant sought and obtained a declaration from the High Court that Critical Mass should be exempt from those requirements, and while the police successfully appealed to the Court of Appeal, the House of Lords upheld the original decision that no notification is required.

On the night of the Olympic opening ceremony on 27 July, police had warned participants to stay on the south side of the Thames and away from the Olympic Park.

A message on the London Critical Mass website at the time said: "Most London cyclists will know about the regular monthly Critical Mass ride this evening.

“Many will also know that the police seem concerned about it, because of all the Olympic traffic.

"It might be assumed that, as usual, the mood of Critical Mass will be to peacefully assert the right of cyclists to travel safely wherever they want in London.

"But in case the police – who normally leave Critical Mass alone – were to decide to intervene this month, it would be good to have lots of people prepared to be peacefully assertive."

Following the events on the night of the Olympic opening ceremony, the website stated: "It appears the ride was joined by some other groups and it became considerably fragmented, though London CM itself is being given all the credit for what took place."
 

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One word describes this and thats "tough". You play with fire and you get burnt.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2665 posts]
25th February 2013 - 14:11

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stumps wrote:
One word describes this and thats "tough". You play with fire and you get burnt.

Completely agree, this was the showcase event for many generations, these people were up to no good, I hope they throw the book at them

posted by mikeprytherch [207 posts]
25th February 2013 - 14:29

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I'm not a great fan of CM, in my view, it does have a route, it's generally where it will cause the most disruption, but, they have a right to go where they want and it's not "tough". The authorities are not there to treat people the way they did that night. The police knew what was going to happen and as such should have had plans in place to deal with what was just a bunch of social misfits on bikes(mostly).

The police should be held responsible for the inhumane treatment of these people, this is how we got into the situation where Hillsborough was allowed to happen.

posted by nappe [39 posts]
25th February 2013 - 14:39

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The police have always wanted to get back at the ride ethos of CM ever since they lost this case:

http://www.criticalmasslondon.org.uk/legal.html

The olympics seemed to provide their chance.

They appeared to harass the other CM ride(s) when the Olympics wasn't on despite no obvious reason too.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
25th February 2013 - 15:57

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“I was cycling home (to watch the Olympic ceremony) when a Police Officer shouted ‘STOP’ and immediately pushed me off my bike.

stumps wrote:
One word describes this and thats "tough". You play with fire and you get burnt.

Disgusting.

Joselito's picture

posted by Joselito [133 posts]
25th February 2013 - 16:11

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The wife and I were cycling back to watch the ceremony, saw a large gathering of cyclist, remembered it was CM and headed another way.

I understand their viewpoint (CM) but lots of heads of state, London being broadcast on a grand scale for the Olympics, nothing was going to be allowed to interrupt that.

Plus all the 'nice' police were in the stadium smiling all the 'cross police' not able to attend were always going to be a bit well 'cross'.

Taking that many people near an event like that - for a good cause or not was stupid - fact.

Yes the police were heavy handed but the amount of time and money invested in it, plus the global audience, do you really think they would be allowed anywhere near it!

posted by twist305 [23 posts]
25th February 2013 - 16:33

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Jesus wept, did I just stumble on the Daily Mail comments section?

Cycling is indeed a broad church. One that the Met will occasionally kick in the doors on and pepper-spray, arrest and cattle-class people for behaving in a perfectly legal fashion.

But of course, dissent must not be tolerated. Our hard-won legal right to peacefully protest quashed, because there's a giant 'showcase' happening nearby? You can just F*ck right off if you think that TV rights justifies police brutality and illegal action of officers. Rip up your own legal rights pal, but leave everyone else's alone...

I was told there would be Cake. Luckily there's http://TestValleyCC.org.uk

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posted by KiwiMike [437 posts]
25th February 2013 - 16:37

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It might have been provocative and a bit stupid but if the Lords says CM is just a bunch of people riding around and can't be targeted by police, and then they were targeted by police the issue is not really whether it's 'tough', it's a legal issue and should be seen as such (ie harassment by police). In that context the police reaction seems overly harsh, but the Met's hardly known for its relaxed handling of protests. I would hope the person pushed off their bike has complained formally.

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posted by alotronic [247 posts]
25th February 2013 - 16:46

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KiwiMike wrote:
Jesus wept, did I just stumble on the Daily Mail comments section?

Cycling is indeed a broad church. One that the Met will occasionally kick in the doors on and pepper-spray, arrest and cattle-class people for behaving in a perfectly legal fashion.

But of course, dissent must not be tolerated. Our hard-won legal right to peacefully protest quashed, because there's a giant 'showcase' happening nearby? You can just F*ck right off if you think that TV rights justifies police brutality and illegal action of officers. Rip up your own legal rights pal, but leave everyone else's alone...

Correct - but the chap also posting on a non CM thread about taking a potato canon was a good idea? the police also read the internet - so what I can see , you can see, they can see, the police will look for any excuse so don't give them one.

posted by twist305 [23 posts]
25th February 2013 - 16:46

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mikeprytherch wrote:
stumps wrote:
One word describes this and thats "tough". You play with fire and you get burnt.

Completely agree, this was the showcase event for many generations, these people were up to no good, I hope they throw the book at them

Hold on, the bloke that said that wasn't "up to no good", he was simply cycling home from work… as a lot of people do along that road, in fact I used to once. He wasn't part of the Critical Mass and the police had no right to do that, don't think they had any right to knock anyone else off their bikes either.

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posted by Tony Farrelly [4132 posts]
25th February 2013 - 16:50

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I guess it comes down to whether this was a protest or not. Here's what the Yard said about it:

“We want anyone who wants to protest to come and speak to us so we can work together to ensure that their point can be made. What people do not have the right to do is to hold a protest that stops other people from exercising their own rights to go about their business.”

So it's back to the 'is CM a protest' issue that really is at the heart of this... and the current legal position is that it isn't so... police look to be pushing it along to try and get another ruling on it, CM pushing it along because... they can!

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posted by alotronic [247 posts]
25th February 2013 - 17:10

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Quote:
"tough. You play with fire and you get burnt."

In an infinitely vast universe of endless possibility, someone has said this to a policeman who was on fire and begging passers-by to piss on him.

Which is a cheering thought. Cool

posted by BigDummy [279 posts]
25th February 2013 - 17:33

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OK a few clarifications. The police were not reactive,they set up road blocks on waterloo,Southwark,London and tower bridges before the ride started, (and maybe more) with a view to enforcing an order banning critical mass riders, and effectively any cyclist, from the entirety of London north of the river.

Cm riders reacted badly to this,resulting in making a beeline for Stratford, but the roads around Stratford were open and ,speaking personally,I fully expected to be stopped by the police long before we got there , not have them sit back, let us think we were OK, then attack us without warning ,dragging people off their bikes. They have since made blatant falsifications over the number of riders normally present, implying there was a huge number of noncritical mass riders there,using the ride for nefarious means. This is also rubbish.

As for police warning riders, they didn't; either before the ride,or on the ride. First mention on police twitter account was around an hour after the ride started. Nothing on police websites. No attempt to publicize the order. Hope the magistrates throw the case out.

The crime was, "cycling where the police don't want you to"

posted by paulbrock [12 posts]
25th February 2013 - 18:35

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paulbrock wrote:
OK a few clarifications.

Thanks for the background, Paul.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7910 posts]
25th February 2013 - 19:00

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Is there just a chance that someone with motives other than a CM ride may have noted where the meeting place was, and decided that this was an opportunity to be a "tree in a forest" to disguise what they may have wanted to do. There was a huge security operation and the fear of some kind of terrorist outrage was no doubt high, which may be why the reaction was seen as heavy handed. I feel extremely sorry ofr the people involved on both sides of this, one group wanting to exert their legal rights, but perhaps somewhat naive in thinking they tere was no chance of them being penetrated by those whose only agenda was death and destruction, and the security services acutely aware of the possibility. Whilst there is no sensible reason for over-strong tactics, the CM group could be seen to be acting in a way which was almost certain to provoke a very robust response. Perhaps they are simply guilty of being naive, perhaps they wanted to provoke for their own reasons.
All very unfortunate.

Doc

posted by doc [167 posts]
25th February 2013 - 19:14

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paulbrock wrote:
OK a few clarifications. The police were not reactive,they set up road blocks on waterloo,Southwark,London and tower bridges before the ride started, (and maybe more) with a view to enforcing an order banning critical mass riders, and effectively any cyclist, from the entirety of London north of the river.

Cm riders reacted badly to this,resulting in making a beeline for Stratford, but the roads around Stratford were open and ,speaking personally,I fully expected to be stopped by the police long before we got there , not have them sit back, let us think we were OK, then attack us without warning ,dragging people off their bikes. They have since made blatant falsifications over the number of riders normally present, implying there was a huge number of noncritical mass riders there,using the ride for nefarious means. This is also rubbish.

As for police warning riders, they didn't; either before the ride,or on the ride. First mention on police twitter account was around an hour after the ride started. Nothing on police websites. No attempt to publicize the order. Hope the magistrates throw the case out.

The crime was, "cycling where the police don't want you to"

Thanks Paul. I think it is important that people are aware of the facts (there maybe some missing, but the picture is much clearer). It sounds like the police ambushed CM, but it would've much fairer if the police had explained to them that they would not allow them to group cycle and allow them to disperse, rather than just detaining them for fear of terrorism. I can understand the authorities problem, but they have to find a way of resolving the issue without taking extreme measures.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1083 posts]
25th February 2013 - 20:12

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alotronic wrote:
I guess it comes down to whether this was a protest or not. Here's what the Yard said about it:

“We want anyone who wants to protest to come and speak to us so we can work together to ensure that their point can be made. What people do not have the right to do is to hold a protest that stops other people from exercising their own rights to go about their business.”

So it's back to the 'is CM a protest' issue that really is at the heart of this... and the current legal position is that it isn't so... police look to be pushing it along to try and get another ruling on it, CM pushing it along because... they can!

For some reason, they can't seem to accept CM for what it is, but that's their problem and their poor attitude.

CM is what it is, a bike ride and they can't touch them, hence their attitude.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
25th February 2013 - 20:56

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I joined the July cm late on as I was delayed by Olympic road restrictions cycling from Chiswick, I caught up with other riders at London bridge at a time when all who wanted to go to the olympic site should have been in their seats. the bridge was road blocked by the police to all traffic
I decided to return home in islington see the opening ceremony to find that NO cyclist was allowed North of the river by the police, even if cycling alone, despite not having been given any notice to this effect.
It will be interesting to see the reasons the police took this action producing in effect a police state as they have not in the past months been able to answer questions or even produce FOI requests on any police intelligence ( according to a FOI= none)

My evening. http://youtu.be/ENOhFpUhKUc

posted by Cycleoptic [19 posts]
25th February 2013 - 21:26

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there was credible intelligence at the time that the Queen might have been forced to make her entry into the stadium on a tandem, rather than by helicopter, hence the police overreaction.

posted by Metjas [272 posts]
25th February 2013 - 23:18

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I have been very pleased about the 2014 TDF and its UK stages, but!!! Looking at this and what has happened I will not be going to London no way. I will go with my Kids somewhere else away form the MET. If they act like this on that day and I am in strange place with limited geographical knowledge its not worth the risk. Perhaps we all should boycott the London stage finish! Angry

posted by 60kg lean keen ... [56 posts]
25th February 2013 - 23:30

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We will probably never see the Olympics in this country again and it will fall to our childrens children to view such a spectacle.

With this in mind does anyone, with even the smallest amount of common sense, think that they were going to get anywhere near the Olympic stadium or in fact within a couple of miles of it, in what can only be described as a mass demonstration ?

Get real, if it had been the bus drivers, train drivers or any other group then people would be saying "you should have known better with it being the Olympics".

People know you cant organise a mass demonstration without informing the authorities of its route etc but people come up with the excuse "there are no leaders in cm" or "you just follow the person in front" shows a complete lack of knowledge or understanding about the law.

We dont live in a perfect world and maybe some of the Police were heavy handed or heaven forbid rude to someone and likewise the accounts by some people of what happened have not been stretched or even lies.

One last thing - Bigdummy - is that the one you just spat out Thinking and the name suits you . Rolling On The Floor Rolling On The Floor

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2665 posts]
26th February 2013 - 10:58

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[

We dont live in a perfect world and maybe some of the Police were heavy handed or heaven forbid rude to someone and likewise the accounts by some people of what happened have not been stretched or even lies.

I really would keep your fingers away from the keyboard Stumpy.
180 detained. Only 9 go to trial.
And I wonder how many accepted 'spurious' cautions to get it over with?

And as for witness accounts being 'stretched and even lies'...

Do you even want to go there considering Plod's history of defending itself recently?

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posted by Joselito [133 posts]
26th February 2013 - 11:04

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Joselito wrote:
[

We dont live in a perfect world and maybe some of the Police were heavy handed or heaven forbid rude to someone and likewise the accounts by some people of what happened have not been stretched or even lies.

I really would keep your fingers away from the keyboard Stumpy.
180 detained. Only 9 go to trial.
And I wonder how many accepted 'spurious' cautions to get it over with?

And as for witness accounts being 'stretched and even lies'...

Do you even want to go there considering Plod's history of defending itself recently?

Joselito, if you only knew how many come through our doors but never get to court, 9 from 180 is a splash in the ocean. Also i will stand by my comments and go as far as saying some cyclists have lied about their actions and subsequent police actions and no doubt so have some police. Its very narrow minded if you think all the police evidence is lies and all the cyclists is the truth Thinking

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2665 posts]
26th February 2013 - 14:56

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Stumps is obviously some kind of an anarchist!

His disregard for the rule of law and promotion of random violence speaks for itself.

posted by Ush [377 posts]
26th February 2013 - 19:42

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stumps wrote:

With this in mind does anyone, with even the smallest amount of common sense, think that they were going to get anywhere near the Olympic stadium or in fact within a couple of miles of it, in what can only be described as a mass demonstration ?

I can only speak for myself, but you're right, I had no expectation at all of getting anywhere near the stadium or Stratford. That was not the aim of the ride, it was, like every month, to go on a safe ride around london.

Despite passing many police officers on the way up to Stratford (and I do mean passing, not speeding by with them chasing after us), not a single police officer attempted to stop a cyclist going into Stratford. (No-one tried to go in the olympic park) The roads around Stratford were open, buses were passing through, taxi drivers were passing through and so did we.

edit: here's a vid (not mine):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmt1xBmVFTY

Quote:

People know you cant organise a mass demonstration
without informing the authorities of its route etc but people come up with the excuse "there are no leaders in cm" or "you just follow the person in front" shows a complete lack of knowledge or understanding about the law.

Firstly, not a demonstration. See House of Lords ruling.
Also, not required to inform authorities of route. HoL ruling.

Suggest you read up before lecturing people on a lack of knowledge or understanding about the law.

posted by paulbrock [12 posts]
26th February 2013 - 21:33

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paulbrock - i stand corrected and not ashamed to admit i was wrong (unlike some correspondents). I honestly thought you had to clear any form of mass attendance (i wont say demonstration) prior to it taking part.

Can you pass me the HoL rulings in relation to this so i can read it up, cheers Big Grin

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2665 posts]
26th February 2013 - 23:44

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stumps wrote:
Can you pass me the HoL rulings in relation to this so i can read it up, cheers Big Grin

Here you go. Ruling made on my birthday, too, which as an occasional particpant back when I lived in London is a nice touch Wink

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldjudgmt/jd081126/metr...

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7910 posts]
27th February 2013 - 0:07

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Simon, cheers mate, just read through it and, as i said before, i accept i was wrong on this case. However, my initial point that you cant organise a demonstration without informing the Police was correct (sect 11 poa 1986) so in relation to an earlier correspondent "i did know the law" and was correct. Apology accepted from you in advance Wink

I was not aware of the case involving cm otherwise i would not have added the comment. Mind you the comment from paulbrock shows how comments can be twisted to suit and perhaps he should also consider reading up on the law regarding demonstrations before he tries to lecture.

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2665 posts]
27th February 2013 - 10:13

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agreed on the demonstration point. Apologies for the confusion and the tone of my previous post Smile

posted by paulbrock [12 posts]
27th February 2013 - 15:02

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paulbrock wrote:
agreed on the demonstration point. Apologies for the confusion and the tone of my previous post Smile

No problem matey, sometimes my heart rules my head and i type without thinking so i also apologise Smile Smile

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

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posted by stumps [2665 posts]
27th February 2013 - 17:14

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