WCN had 6 legal observers out during the mass: caroline samponaro, mark taylor, kit bland, elly blue, madeline nelson, and elizabeth press. There were 14 arrests made at 22nd and Lexington Ave, minutes and blocks from Union Square. Following 2 great articles written by Jim Dwyer in the NYTimes, there were still clearly undercover police officers on bikes both at Union Square and during the ride. Also, even in light of the recent NYTimes article referencing back to the NYPD's misuse of a helicopter, the helicopters were out pre-ride. For the first time, at least one helicopter had a very strong spotlight on it. It was used to shne down on the Square pre-ride, and then to follow the ride as it left. (see the accounts below for more ride details).
I, Caroline, went with a handful of others to the 1st precinct where the 14 arrestees were being held. 2 women were released from jail prior to our 10pm arrival (which is unusual), with their bikes and a ticket for biking on the sidewalk. This is the first time this has happened (leaving with a bike and getting a ticket and no other charges). Neither of the women were riding on the sidewalk. As others slowly were released, it seems that another arrestee was offered to leave with his bike and a ticket. He eventually was unable to take this offer, because he had a folding bike with wheels that were under the 22inch diameter minimum for giving a biking on the sidewalk ticket. This man, however, did not have any disorderly conduct charges on his desk appearance ticket, only the parading without a permit. When I asked how this came about, he told me that the cops had thanked him for being so cooperative and wanted to make it easier on him. Aside from those three arrestees, everyone else had the normal discon and parading without a permit on their d.a.t. It doesn't seem that anyone else was offered and alternative. One arrestee was apparently questioned by officers outside of his cell (''upstairs") regarding some fliers (kept for evidence) that were in his bag. Madeline Nelson, a WCN legal observer, had her WCN armband confiscated and kept as evidence while in jail. All of those arrested were released by midnight, with the exception of one man who was without his ID. The telephone number that he gave the police to verify his personal information (his parents' home) went unanswered because his parents were observing the sabbath. This man was kept overnight in jail and was released at some point the following afternoon. FreeWheels representatives were at the precinct with drinks, snacks, info, and loaner bikes. 5 of those arrested opted to borrow a bike to ride home and keep until their bikes were released.
This from Kit Bland, a WCN legal observer:
'Right from the very start -- even the pre-ride
gathering -- the police seemed especially intent on
making arrests that night. I hadn't been to a ride in
almost six months, so I wasn't fully up to date, but
the tactics were new to me: no sound van blasting the
messages over loudspeakers, no barriers lining the
park (essentially funneling the riders into the NYPD
nets). Instead, the police pulled out right behind us,
then flanked us, causing us to turn East on 22nd
Street, then cut us off at the pass (in this case,
Lexington Ave.). As my friend, Chris, who I had
dragged along that night, said: "I feel kind of
stupid. It was so obvious what they were doing."'