15th STREET AND WEST SIDE HIGHWAY, MIDNIGHT–The protesters arrested at multiple sites while taking part in tonight’s Critical Mass ride were taken here, to the Marine and Aviation building at Pier 57, in commandeered city buses. Outside, on the bicycle path, behind an orange barrier, friends and National Lawyers Guild members waited for information on those inside. NLG members on the scene reported 180 arrested. A later police count exceeded 260.
According to eyewitness reports, the ride proceeded without incident through Times Square and was looping back south, until riders arrived at 34th Street around 9 p.m. There, they were intercepted by police on motorbikes and others in riot gear. On Dyer, between 9th and 10th avenues, riders did not hear an order to disperse. Instead, they reported, came cries by police of “Box them in!” Both at Dyer and at 7th Avenue riders were arrested in the middle of the intersection, while traffic was stopped in all directions. There were arrests later on in the evening near 2nd Avenue and 9th Street.
I counted 15 paddy wagons waiting on side streets in the midtown area to take people away. People were taken along with their bikes and, according to reports, Polaroids were being taken of arrestees and attached to their bicycles, perhaps so the bikes can be returned later.
Earlier in the evening, while the crowd was still in Union Square, police were handing out copies of a flyer advising people that they were about to commit a crime: “It is illegal to ride a bicycle in a procession on the public streets within New York City if a permit for the procession has not been issued by the New York City Police Department.”
However, there was no large-scale enforcement of this warning until nearly two hours had passed.
According to eyewitnesses, one young woman being led away by five police officers at Dyer and 34th got her foot caught in her bicycle and stumbled, yelling that she was injured. She was waving an American flag.