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Old 05-17-03, 01:23 PM   #1
Prosody
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Cyclists Arrested for Riding Without a License

This story appeared in today's newspaper. I don't know enough about the political context of the story, but I find the actions of our local police offensive on many levels, cycling advocacy just one of them.

From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5/17/03

Link here.

In town for protest, cyclists are arrested
By GREG JONSSON
05/17/2003


Members of a "bicycle circus" in town to demonstrate at the World Agricultural Forum said they were arrested Friday in Tower Grove Park for operating their bicycles without licenses.

The cyclists, kicking off a tour to educate people about industrial agriculture, are part of a performing group that uses puppets, juggling and costumes to deliver its message. They said they were riding through the park about 10 a.m. when their path was blocked by a police van. They were on their way to Biodevastation 7, a conference protesters are sponsoring as an alternative to the World Economic Forum.

Police told the cyclists that anyone older than 12 needed a license to ride a bicycle in St. Louis, the cyclists said.

The eight men and one woman in the group were handcuffed, taken to a St. Louis police station and processed. Eventually, they were given tickets for impeding the flow of traffic and released after about six hours in police custody.

City Counselor Patricia Hageman said a rarely enforced law requiring bicycle licenses was on the books until about two years ago. She called the incident Friday a "misunderstanding."

But members of the group said it was part of what they called a pre-emptive strike on World Agriculture Forum protesters.

"They just invented a pretext to pick us up," said Tom Shaver of Santa Cruz, Calif., a member of the group "It's a really scary precedent."

Ben Majchrzak, a member from Vermont, said police in St. Louis were overreacting to the presence of protesters.

"They were looking for weapons of mass destruction and found puppets and clowns and bikes," Majchrzak said.
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Old 05-17-03, 04:40 PM   #2
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Originally posted by Prosody
Police told the cyclists that anyone older than 12 needed a license to ride a bicycle in St. Louis, the cyclists said.

The eight men and one woman in the group were handcuffed, taken to a St. Louis police station and processed. Eventually, they were given tickets for impeding the flow of traffic and released after about six hours in police custody.

City Counselor Patricia Hageman said a rarely enforced law requiring bicycle licenses was on the books until about two years ago. She called the incident Friday a "misunderstanding."

But members of the group said it was part of what they called a pre-emptive strike on World Agriculture Forum protesters.
Obviously.

Police are supposed to protect citizens, not control them.

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Old 05-17-03, 04:51 PM   #3
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Hmmmm... either the police have expired law books and don't know the current law (which is scary), or they chose to overlook that the law was not on the books anymore. Either way, it just shows what idiots they really are....

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Old 05-17-03, 05:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by Prosody
"They were looking for weapons of mass destruction and found puppets and clowns
Sounds like the police were puppets and clowns, too.

Hey, remember, the Patriot act makes any protester fair game for arrest! Sorry, I know this isn't the political forum, but the motives for the arrests were political, rather than actually an intended blow against bikes.
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Old 05-17-03, 05:26 PM   #5
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What is the patriot act, exactly?
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Old 05-17-03, 06:02 PM   #6
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Originally posted by Koffee Brown
What is the patriot act, exactly?
http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html

Basically, it's a 342-page bit of legislation that Congress passed two days after 9-11, which greatly expands the power of the police and government to spy on and arrest American citizens, in the name of fighting terrorism.
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Old 05-17-03, 06:35 PM   #7
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Yet another misuse and twisting of the laws to disregard the rights of the United States citizens. Do they really think these folks on bikes are terrorists for real? They didn't invoke the patriot act when they arrested these folks, did they? I thought they were being arrested for some stupid law that may or may not be on the books with regards to cycling without a license.

Either way, I'm not liking that law...
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Old 05-17-03, 06:35 PM   #8
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In 1970 (I think) Trudeau invoked the War Measures Act to combat a terrorist/separatist group (FLQ) in Quebec and authorities used it to throw all kinds of "undesirables" into jail all across the country that had nothing to do with anything.

The "authorities" loved it.

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Old 05-17-03, 08:02 PM   #9
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Required reading for all Americans: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Assuming that the cyclists were assembling peaceably, the officers in question are on constitutionally shaky ground.
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Old 05-17-03, 09:12 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Koffee Brown
Hmmmm... either the police have expired law books and don't know the current law (which is scary), or they chose to overlook that the law was not on the books anymore. Either way, it just shows what idiots they really are....
Exactly. I don't know who the relevant body is over there, but if it happened to me out here I'd be straight on the phone to the Chief Commissioner of Police in Queensland and having these tosspots shot with pink slips.
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Old 05-17-03, 09:39 PM   #11
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Yeah, but you may not get that opportunity in this case. I really think that 80% of the time (or more), there's no recourse you can take- either because you don't know any better, or they don't know what they do.

Beyond that, there are times when the police won't even allow you to make that one telephone call they are required to give you when you are arrested.

There are times when the police like to flex their muscle and "teach you a lesson".
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Old 05-17-03, 09:44 PM   #12
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Perhaps so, however, in this case, the story made it to the media, so somebody obviously found out about it. I tend to think that if a couple of them got fired over this, it might send out a message to anyone else considering this sort of behaviour.
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Old 05-19-03, 08:38 AM   #13
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These guys go by the name of "The Flying Rutabaga Circus." They are currently on a tour of the midwest. Here is an update from inside the orginization... this taken from the iBOB mailing list:

Flying Rutabaga greetings from St. Louis,
Our bike circus recieved a warm welcome from two collective houses here
in St. Louis. The police, however, have not been so inviting. An
enterage from our Flying Rutabaga Cycle Circus embarked from our housing
Friday morning destined to present themselves at Biodevistation 7, a
counter-conference to the Monsanto-sponsered World Agricultural Forum.
We were scheduled to announce our mission to Caravan Across The Cornbelt, a
30 day, 1000 mile circus tour from St. Louis to DC. At 9:10am, the
circus embassadors were stopped by a police van, questioned about their
intentions of riding as a group, and asked to comply with a search of
their bike circus trailers. Four more squad cars arrived, and the 9
clowns were hand-cuffed, taken to jail, and charged with operating a
bicycle without a license. For 8 hours the Flying Rutabagas entertained
themselves as only they know how: singing, clowning, telling stories,
and playing "finger toss". Denied access to lawyers, food, water, and!
phone calls, we waited until the police sorted out their justification
for our arrival there. Eventually, the officers informed us we would
not be able to get our bikes back unless we could prove ownership, that
we would have to return for a court date, and that we smelled bad. More
activists arrived, one man taken directly off the sidewalk and charged
with "public protest". The bicycle licence infraction was dropped, and
we were instead given traffic infractions and court dates. Our bikes,
they said, were waiting in the garage, and we could take them with us.
Missing items from the confiscated bikes: pocket knives, two circus
organizational notebooks, one Appetite Rope Walker puppet. After our
release, we learned that our hosts in town, a collective for five years
called The Bolozone, was raided and all occupants were arrested. The
clowns were taken from a fully functioning home with running water to a
delapitaded old jailhouse with no running water and no phones. A!
ll bikes within the Bolozone were seized. Our entire Flying Rutabaga
Cycle Circus, our hosts and other guests had been jailed within one half
hour. The fifteen from the raid were kept overnight in jail. The other
collective house we were using, called CAMP (Community Arts and Media
Project) was raided and several boxes of documents, and some big puppets
were seized. On the news, police laid out a table full of "weapons-in-
progress" such as roofing nails, newspaper juggling pins, a whip, circus
gear for fire
twirling, and the obligatory napkin tucked into a bottle. Saturday
we were together again, and will spend our time not rehearsing, but
following legal matters, persuing housing options, reviving our food and
equipment resources, and getting around town on half the number of
bicycles, public transport and borrowed cars. We are unable to leave St.
Louis until our materials are recovered. We are unable to ride bikes
without feeling anxious. Today, (Sat.) we are making fun out of
difficult work. We hope to leave this incident behind us and not
encounter problems for ourselves or our hosts down the route. Luckily,
we have much support here locally, legally, and physically clothing and
housing the pajama-clad clowns who emerged from jail this morning. All our
resourses are being drawn into play to spread the word about our
situation. In an effort to reinvent techniques for proactive protesting,
the cycle circus has been met with the reoccuring technique of pre-emptive
arrests and intimidation. We are eagarly awaiting the tour, and voicing
out against
genetically modified food, and celebrating local organic sustainable
agriculture. If you feel compelled to tell St. Louis to release the
bicycles from custody and let us begin our mission to Caravan Across The
Cornbelt, we humbly request your assistance.
Please contact Chief Joe Mokwa at 314-444-5624 or the Mayor's office at
314-622-3201 and tell them to release the bikes and return the Bolozone
as soon as possible
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Old 05-19-03, 08:43 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Koffee Brown
What is the patriot act, exactly?

An vicious attack on your Constitution.
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Old 05-19-03, 10:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by RareVos
Flying Rutabaga greetings from St. Louis...Friday morning destined to present themselves at Biodevistation 7, a
counter-conference to the Monsanto-sponsered World Agricultural Forum...

Our entire Flying Rutabaga Cycle Circus, our hosts and other guests had been jailed within one half hour...

...we will spend our time not rehearsing, but following legal matters, persuing housing options, reviving our food and equipment resources, and getting around town on half the number of bicycles, public transport and borrowed cars.
Sounds like the major objective of the mass-arrest was accomplished. "We ain't havin' no flyin' Rutabagels, or whatever they's called, messin' up our conference! Nossir!"
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Old 05-19-03, 11:14 AM   #16
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You got it mang... nobody screws with big agri-business. They can buy and sell your puny ass. At least not in the corn belt.
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Old 05-19-03, 10:59 PM   #17
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Police told the cyclists that anyone older than 12 needed a license to ride a bicycle in St. Louis, the cyclists said.
And to think I've been riding around St. Louis for 40 years without a license, even through Tower Grove Park.

I think that's what is called a "trumped-up charge".
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Old 05-20-03, 12:51 AM   #18
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It looks like the police got some instruction on how to deal with protestors from some of Seattle's finest who must of been on duty during the WTO here a few years ago what is weird is I seem to recall that the St Louis Post Dispatch is decidedly conservitive did'nt Pat Buchanan used to work there? I thought they might of given a more favorable view of the police.
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Old 05-20-03, 08:23 AM   #19
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I guess the Seattle police told them a lot, because they obviously dealt with the situation in an ignorant manner!

We had WTO here in Chicago about a year ago, and unlike Seattle, it was pretty quiet- I think the police here were much better prepared- they'd performed drills and practiced dealing with mass protestors, and they also allowed protestors to march the streets at allotted times, which helped keep the situation calm too.

Too bad this cyclist isn't in Chicago. You could get away with almost anything on a bike here....

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Old 05-20-03, 11:12 AM   #20
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I seem to recall that the St Louis Post Dispatch is decidedly conservitive...
No. You may be thinking of the Globe-Democrat, which is no longer with us. Back in the days when newspapers were newspapers, and there was more than one, the Globe-Democrat was the decidedly conservative paper, and the Post-Dispatch was decidedly liberal.
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Old 05-20-03, 11:16 AM   #21
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Originally posted by JRA
No. You may be thinking of the Globe-Democrat, which is no longer with us. Back in the days when newspapers were newspapers, and there was more than one, the Globe-Democrat was the decidedly conservative paper, and the Post-Dispatch was decidedly liberal.
I was dealing with my semi senior memory from when I lived there for a year and half in '67 & '68 what a great ball club the Cards were then eh?
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Old 01-12-06, 05:53 PM   #22
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I live about a hours drive south of St. Louis. I hate this place beyond words.
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Old 01-12-06, 06:02 PM   #23
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I'm just waiting for the return of the good old Alien and Sedition Acts of the late 1700's. I would bet that the Bush Boys are already looking for ways to re-enact them under some Orwellian name.

The License laws such as these are wrttten into almost every municiple code. They are usually ignored until the masses get too uppity. Then its turn on the fire hoses and let loose the dogs.
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Old 01-12-06, 06:26 PM   #24
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Welcome to GWB's 1984... the post 9-11 world.
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Old 01-12-06, 06:40 PM   #25
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To summarize: A bunch of clowns were harrassed by a bunch of Bozos under the direction of a bunch of idiots that we elected.
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