Critical Mass meeting
The meeting between Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) administration officials and Critical Mass participants that I organized and I facilitated was, in my opinion, extremely successful. It seemed to be very fruitful for the MPD and CM riders to sit down at the same table and simply talk.
Among the outcomes of the meeting, everyone was in general agreement that if the MPD committed to the following it would be helpful:
- To gather information about the route of Critical Mass and incidents within it by means other than helicopters.
- To task bicycle police to Critical Mass, to understand where it is going and be on hand to deal with issues that come up (confrontations between drivers and riders, for instance).
- To keep squad cars following the mass at a safe and respectful distance from bicyclists, 10-15 feet rather than the one-and-a-half feet many riders report from the last Mass.
- To refrain from the regular use of sirens by the squads following the Mass.
- To share the contact information for the Incident Commander with participants.
- To focus enforcement on acts of violence towards people or property.
- To possibly be available in Loring Park before the ride to answer questions, share MPD plans, if any, and begin constructive communication between officers and participants.
- To work towards ensuring that future events like Critical Mass are more peaceful and avoid, to the extent they can, a repeat of the confrontation of August 31.
The police were very receptive to these ideas and I will continue to clarify what we can expect in the days ahead.
Additionally, many of the Critical Mass participants present committed to help the group 'self-police' behaviors that the majority of riders find antithetical to the purpose of the event, such as riding into oncoming traffic, running red lights at the front of the Mass, intimidating drivers and/or damaging property. A number of riders agreed to share their cell phone numbers with the MPD's incident commander, to be a liaison between the group and the officers tasked to respond to it.
I hope to ride at least in the beginning of the next Critical Mass, to see firsthand how the MPD and CM participants deliver on their commitments and to help keep the peace. I encourage others who want to help make this a positive and peaceful event to also consider attending.