On July 27th 2012, my friend and I walked from my apartment in to the San Diego Gaslamp District. After dinner at a restaurant, and as we were leaving, we saw that Critical Mass was going by. For those of you unfamiliar, Wikipedia describes Critical Mass as a “monthly protest by cyclists reclaiming the streets.” Critical Mass hasn’t exactly been a ‘positive image’ to bicycling either…
Now, let me paint you a picture :
I stepped out in to the street, in between two parked cars, and stuck my hand out to high five riders passing by. There was heavy traffic that night in Downtown San Diego so every rider was going very slow. Many riders were actually high fiving me back and ‘WOOO!’ing me as they rolled past. If I could lightly give them a pat on the back as they passed with my right hand I would.
There was a Police Officer on a bicycle approaching. He was a Police Officer assigned to ride along with Critical Mass. As he was passing me, I lowered my high five hand and kind of attempted to semi- give him a pat on the back. I didn’t even come clooose to making contact with my hand cause I’m obviously not going to physically hit a Police Officer on the back.
Then, I believe, this officer decided to make an example out of me…
My back was turned to him. I didn’t even turn around when he passed. I was expecting to continue high fiving Critical Mass riders. But this Police Officer ditched his bike, jumped me from behind, threw me in a choke hold, slammed my head on the ground, dug his knee so incredibly hard into my back and placed me under arrest.
I was charged with “Assaulting an Officer”.
One witness, Jeremy, said that, “When it happened, I had been in San Diego for maybe a few hours (this was my family’s first trip here). Honestly, my wife and I didn’t stop talking about it that night. It really bothered us because it was so excessive. Regardless of whether or not Charlie did do something, the cop tackled him when his back was turned. All the cop had to do was tap him on the shoulder. Instead, his feet left the ground and he wrapped his arms around Charlie’s neck to take him down. That’s not a cop’s duty or right, no matter the circumstances”.
I never fought back. I never resisted. I shut up and did exactly what this ‘Officer of The Law’ instructed. Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you that I’m more mellow than most, live my life as peacefully as possible, and would never EVER try to cause harm on ANYONE – let alone a Police Officer!
I spent that night in jail, lawyered up, and the charges were eventually dropped about a month later.
This is my opinion of the entire situation : there is a ton of controversy surrounding Critical Mass. You may have even seen it on the evening news. The Critical Mass rides are portrayed as dangerous, offensive, and malicious. I believe hat this officer was on edge and was looking for anything / anyONE to snap at.
Physically I received a bloody nose, broken glasses, and a night in jail. Emotionally I now receive major anxiety around Police Officers.
This night was a huge inspiration for how I forever handled The Awarewolfs. I couldn’t stand that Critical Mass was “THE” image of ‘urban community bicycling’. So from that day forward, “We are a pack. Not a mass.”