Bicycle Culture Rising #2: The Portland Police's Peculiar War Against Bicycling 1993-2007
by Joe Biel Author
It's the revamped second edition of the Expozine Award Winning zine of police documents, now with commentary! Last time around we got a social history and tactics lesson about the Critical Mass bicycle activist movement. For this issue BPBP editor Joe Biel collected legal documents pertaining to the Portland Police Department's "interest" in the local Critical Mass movement. Obtained by Freedom of Information Requests, Biel shows through once-secret police and court documents that Portland Critical Mass may not have simply died out, rather "From reading their internal files, the Portland Police department was highly wary of Critical Mass from day one and went as far as illegally spying on the group with their anti-communist "Red Squad" and forever cementing the meme that Critical Mass' goals were rioting, blocking traffic, and antagonism with the public." Portland is, of course, one of the best North American cities for cycling. This zine is a rallying call for bike activists and is a companion piece to Biel's upcoming documentary, Aftermass: Bicycling In a Post Critical Mass Portland.
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Comments & Reviews
This one's kind of weird.
A collection of documents on Portland's Critical Mass obtaining through the Freedom of Information Act. It spans 1993-2005. It also has selected words blanked out to make the document a mad libs.
There is a lack of understanding on the part of the Police department about what Critical Mass stands for. It appears the amount of arrests made were excessive considering the minor amount of misdemeanors involved.
A collection of police documents dating from 1993 to 2005 keeping tabs on the Rose City’s burgeoning Critical Mass bike ride, it reveals the cops’ growing paranoia that this parade of scruffy two-wheeled activists would “start a riot that would endanger the lives of families and children.” It’s a hilarious read.
One of a small crop of books on Critical Mass or, more accurately, law enforcement’s overreaction to the cycling group’s occasionally dubious decisionmaking.
Local zine legend Joe Biel, has a knack for making transportation activism interesting, fun, and sometimes funny (he's the guy who made the Martinis in the Bike Lane documentary). Biel's latest zine is an ingenious handling of hundreds of internal police documents about Critical Mass in Portland. He's uncovered police spies that infiltrated Critical Mass meetings, lots of fear and hysteria about crazed bike "anarchists," and more.