Critical Mass 9-28-07
As you may have heard (here, for instance), the September 28th Critical Mass was peaceful and almost completely without confrontations between riders and police. I consider this a significant accomplishment of the meeting Robert Lilligren and I organized on September 19. But most of the credit is due to the MPD, who handled last Friday's Mass with great constructiveness and professionalism, and individual Critical Mass riders, who helped 'self-police' their own behavior.
I have heard quite a few great stories from last Friday's ride. On Hennepin, the group went out of its way to let a northbound bus proceed, amid cries of "let the bus through!" and "busses are great!" On East Franklin, a just-married couple had the fantastic idea of making their way into the middle of the Mass to have pictures taken - a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I've heard multiple stories about MPD officers helping defuse situations with frustrated drivers, and of at least one successful de-escalation of a potential conflict between a rider and a cop. On Nicollet Mall, the Mass kept itself in one northbound land, allowing southbound bus traffic to continue. And I'm proud to say that when the Mass seemed to have gotten stuck going around in a several-block circle at Lagoon, Lake and Hennepin my Aide played an important role in redirecting the group north, to free the intersection.
I believe that everyone - Critical Mass riders, the MPD, the City as a whole, and even Friday afternoon auto commuters - benefits when civil disobedience remains peaceful and does not escalate into confrontations between participants and police. At last Friday's Mass, no streets were shut down indefinitely by melees, officers were not forced to leave neighborhood patrols to assist, disruptions (though certainly part of the event) were minimized, no one was injured, no one was arrested.
I consider this an important collective accomplishment. I've passed my thanks on to the MPD Administration officials and officers who were present, and to the riders who helped keep the tone of this month's ride positive and nonconfrontational.