Sometimes, no matter how good a cause may be, the way that cause is presented to the public elicits no sympathy whatsoever. With the price of gas skyrocketing and the general economic downturn, you’d think that riding a bike to commute would be an attractive option. When you throw the activist group Critical Mass into the mix, you get headlines, controversy and one fed-up cop now stripped of his badge and gun.
During Friday’s Critical Mass ride in Times Square, Officer Patrick Pogan shoved bicyclist Christopher Long. The incident was caught on tape, and Pogan, the son of a highly respected detective, just graduated three weeks ago from the Police Academy. The video is shocking, and as one police source told the Daily News, “The video is bad—what can you say?” In court papers, Pogan claimed that Long purposely swerved his bicycle to block traffic and used his bike as a weapon to run down Pogan. The video, however, shows Long trying to avoid Pogan.
In the news section, the outrage is directed at Pogan for what seems to be an unprovoked attack. The editorial pages, however, unleash a torrent of criticism and scorn on Critical Mass. The Post calls the group “crazies who conspire to endanger the public every month and dare the police to stop them.” The Daily News calls them a “cycling horde, squalling and squealing their sense-of-entitlement way through Times Square.” The News complains that Critical Mass is not following through with rules that require a ride with more than 50 cyclists to get a permit. The Post is more outraged with the Critical Mass vs. Cops battle, noting “It’s hard to root against the cops.”
So, who’s right here? Have at it in the comments.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 29, 2008