Friday, June 13, 2014

A Hard Rains Gonna Fall: Vision zero clothing ride 2014

Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
Where the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
               Bob Dylan

A hard rain was going to rain here the night of the Vision Zero ride.

A clothing-optional bike ride in solidarity with the World Naked Bike Ride. While the new regime of New York City pays lip service #VisionZero , we will show what safer streets for humans really look like. We demand free assembly, free speech, free movement and safe expression for our bodies and ideas. #VisionZero harassment, #VisionZero cars, #VisionZero hate, #visionzero shame, #visionzero pollutants in our physical and mental environment.

Active participants required. Pants optional.

Forecasts called for rain all week. But we decided to stick with the plan for the ride, rain or no rain.
Sunny most of the day, ran drops didn’t start until 6 pm when the ride was going to start.  Still, we had great vibes.  We danced along the water, welcomed the rain and let it cleans us. 
The naked rides really are about beating back the mundane and routine, the reactionary, the puritanical, the dreary n our every day. So we all enjoyed it, sharing ideas and tips, while beating back the forced of fascism for at least a day and building a space for more consent and awareness and less repression.

Getting ready to leave, my phone sent me an alert of a flash flood warning.  Still we would ride.

As the rain slowed, we zipped down to the Manhattan Bridge, over to Washington Square Park and Christopher Street.

Love your body
Ride a bike

People cheered as we road through the city, smiling and seeming to appreciate a moment of openness.

On the way back to Brooklyn, down Bleecker, people were cheering for us. But we also heard sirens.
Are those police?

And an undercover cop taxi swerved in front of the ride.

You can’t ride around with your dick hanging out, one of the cops explained.
And two of the cyclists were arrested for lewdness and indecent exposure.

“Sex police at it again!” screamed one observer.
“I thought it was repressive Iran,” noted another.

Bob Dylan wrote A Hard Rains Gonna Fall here, noted another rider gesturing up to the building on the corner of Thompson and Bleecker where the arrests took place.

 The cyclists sent out a tweet on the WNBR account:

The 6th precinct just used 6 officers to disrupt our peaceful ride.  Stopping more traffic then we were. Resulting in 2 arrests. Shame on them…

Apparently, we had ridden by the precinct on our way home, drawing their attention.
Yet, as Henri Lefebvre pointed out after the events of Pars 1968, without spontaneity nothing happens.
Nothing moves forward; nothing progresses. There s no movement.  This is why the police hate such gestures of freedom.

When we got there, we asked how long our friends would be held.
No response. When asked how long it might be before we could know they said an hour or so, finally confessing that our friends would be put through the system and not get out until the next day.

But they were not being disruptive.  They were just riding.
The riders who road past here a couple of hours ago were being disruptive, blocking traffic.
Your friends will be charged with public lewdness and indecent exposure.

Accordng to  New York Penal Law:
§ 245.00 Public lewdness. A person is guilty of public lewdness when he intentionally exposes the private or intimate parts of his body in a lewd manner or commits any other lewd act (a) in a public place, or (b) in private premises under circumstances in which he may readily be observed from either a public place or from other private premises, and with intent that he be so observed.
Public lewdness is a class B misdemeanor.
§ 245.01 Exposure of a person. A person is guilty of exposure if he appears in a public place in such a manner that the private or intimate parts of his body are unclothed or exposed. For purposes of this section, the private or intimate parts of a female person shall include that portion of the breast which is below the top of the areola. This section shall not apply to the breastfeeding of infants or to any person entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment.

Exposure of a person is a violation.

Nothing in this section shall prevent the adoption by a city, town or village of a local law prohibiting exposure of a person as herein defined in a public place, at any time, whether or not such person is entertaining or performing in a play, exhibition, show or entertainment.
[NAC NOTE: People v. Santorelli restricts the applicability of § 245.01. The Court of Appeals of New York ruled in 1992 that exposure of a bare female breast violates this law only when it takes place in a commercial context. As a practical matter, proper enforcement of this section can be a problem, since local enforcement agents are often unfamiliar with the case law that interprets the statutory language.]

Were any of the riders  exposing themselves in a Lewd way?  Certainly, not from my point of view. But the police tend to insert themselves at some point as we travel through Manhattan.  And the ride was no different.  At the precinct house, mellowyellow asked how many speedingtickets the precinct had written that night when they were busy arresting cyclists.

Defensive, they escorted us out.  Few found what we were doing amusing and questions about police performance were less amazing.

Instead of answering the question, they escorted us out.  Our friends would not be out till the next day they explained, yet another skirmish in a lifetime of battles between the Dionysian cult and those hell bent on crushing the party and its libratory ideas, the forces of repression rearing their head against efforts to realize New York’s, the naked city,  in all its glories.  Last summer, Cecily McMillan helped host our after party for the naked ride.  This summer she's in jail after a similar ruin with the police. 

Looks like the activists will be getting out of central booking tomorrow.
And the battle between forces of freedom and openness and will continue to clash with those hell bent on stopping the conversation.

After the rde, Steven Mendez posted the followng on facebook.

Sadly two of our fellow riders were arrested at the end of our ride. They are still being detained at 100 Center street and should be released later this afternoon or evening. I will update later with arraignment info in case anyone can meet later for their release. Aside from the sad ending, EVERYONE on the ride was pretty AMAZING, had great SPIRIT and MOJO! It was a fun blast  Riding across the bridge in the rain was surreal and magical... I look forward to an (almost bare) repeat ride in the Sun with no arrests  It is strange they made the arrests... We passed so many cops along the ride who did not seem to blink an eye like the past couple of years.We obeyed traffic laws, rode in bike lanes and kept the ride safe... Send positive vibes to our brothers who will be in court today... Peace

perhaps the 6th precinct reacted to mellowyellow as they dd because of this.

According to Right of Way:


Cyclists brought a speed gun, clocked speeds over 50 miles per hour, asked officers to enforce the law. Officers refused.
New York, NY: On Friday, April 28, 2014, a peaceful group bike ride of 20 cyclists was followed by dozens of police officers. The cyclist took them to the intersection of Clinton and Delancy, where 12 year old Dashane Santana was killed while crossing the street by a speeding driver last year, and clocked the speeds of motorists regularly exceeding 40mph, well above the 30mph speed limit across NYC.
Not only did the officers refuse to enforce the law, their Commanding Officer David Ehrenberg justified using his resources to police the cyclists because he claimed they get many complaints about lawless bikers.
As the cyclists questioned the commanding officer, he told them to “forget about traffic fatalities,” said speeding was not a factor in any of the 10 pedestrian fatalities in his precinct in the last two year, and said he was proud of the speeding enforcement by his precinct, which has written only 7 speeding tickets this year. All captured here:
One dozen officers have been policing the monthly Critical Mass bike ride since the Republican National Convention in 2004, costing the city millions of dollars per year.
As far back as 2008, City Council members signed a letter demanding an investigation into the NYPD’s policies toward Critical Mass, including Tish James, Gale Brewer,  and Melissa Mark-Viverito, now Public Advocate, Manhattan Borough President, and Speaker, respectively.
Since then, most riders have stopped attending and the ride has dwindled to fewer cyclists than cops, but the officers kept attending and ticketing for minor and non-existent infractions, like this five year old ticketed for not wearing a helmet.
Stalwarts had hoped the police presence would diminish after the February 18th Vision Zero Press Conference in which the new NYPD Commissioner William Bratton repeatedly said resources would be focused on speeding and failure to yield, the crimes that are killing pedestrians.

That has not happened yet, but the activists are hopeful. “This is not about us being upset about the NYPD policing our bike ride. We are upset that they are using their limited resources to police a bike ride rather than save lives,” said Keegan Stephan, an organizer with Right of Way. “The administration has clearly demonstrated that speeding and failure to yield are the leading causes of pedestrian fatalities, and I think that we have clearly demonstrated that the officers assigned to a peaceful bike rides on Friday nights could better serve the city by cracking down on traffic violence.”

Later after the ride, my friend from Honk Kong wrote me asking how I went.  I told him about things and he replied:  "It sounds like NY and Mexico City were the two places where riders were harassed.  Interesting that both have Giuliani directed police departments.  (Mexico City was where Giuliani's consulting firm suggested, among other things, the closing of all gay clubs to reduce crime.)"


The followng day at 9 PM
Anonimiss Bikenyc

Happy to report that arrested riders were free as of about 9pm last night, and were in good spirits. Court support team treated them to hot noodle soup before the intrepid two headed back to the scene of the crime and the 6th precinct to recover their property. 24 hours in custody, with minimal clothing. The state had to loan shirts and shoes before they could put them before the judge. Both riders have vowed to continue to participate in Nake Bike Rides, perhaps in Philly and or Boston later this summer.

The @wnbrnyc 2 are free after 24 hours & in good spirits! #visionzeroclothing #courtsupport

1 comment:

  1. i like how the drops water on the camera seem to know exactly where to go to cover things up