Video evidence shows that police think cycling is a crime
In contrast to the 182 arrests made on Critical Mass, which happened at the same time as the Olympics opening ceremony, 144 Olympic cyclists managed to stage an Olympic “Road Race” throughout the roads of London yesterday.
As someone who was involved in Critical Mass, I am glad that the Olympians were treated with respect by the police and that there is no more reports of state sponsored violence on these athletes.
The Met have tried to defend their behaviour on Friday night by suggesting that Critical Mass was an unpermitted protest. However, it is clear that Critical Mass is a swarm of cyclists that follow the whims of those there.
By the Met’s logic, this means that due to the Olympics, they can stop the cycle ride as it does not have permission. This removal of rights to protest during an Olympic event is a separate serious issue; nevertheless, critical mass is a group of people cycling not a protest. This shows how when protesters’ rights are curtailed it can have a knock on effect, in this case criminalising a group riding their bikes.
The arrest of Melanie Strickland is one example of the police’s misuse of their powers. During this arresting Sergeant Seffer even suggests cycling is illegal.
Miss Strickland was arrested whilst trying to give water to an arrested male cyclist. The arrested man had not drunk anything all day, due to respecting his Muslim faith during the Ramadan. Officers were ignoring his requests for water.
Miss Strickland, who is legally qualified, was told to move on by the officer who refused to allow her to give him water. Officer Sefer said, “I know the law.” To which she then asked him, “What is the law then?”
He said, “Number one, my colleague has his back to you, so therefore you pose a threat to my colleague.” Miss Strickland then complained that that was “Ridiculous.”
Beyond criminalising cycling under a dubious section 12, this officer also seems to be suggesting it is illegal to stand behind another officer.
Sergeant Sefer stopped her in mid-sentence, and asserts, “Listen I’m not getting into a row with you.”
Miss Strickland then repeats, “You do not know the law.” This point of disagreement is then passed to and fro, with him continuing, “I’m a custody sergeant, i can quote bits to you, I can put everything to you. But I’m not going to, because I’m not going to entertain you in a conversation. Also I have witnessed you, with the others okay, those people who breached Section 12 of the Public order act and so have you.”
During this discussion no water is given to the man who was arrested for cycling.
Miss Strickland then says, “I have been cycling: cycling is not a crime.”The officer replies, “It is.”
Whilst Miss Strickland is arrested you can clearly hear a man shout, “The police have given me no water.”
This incident clearly shows the injustice handed out by the police and their ineptitude. I was threatened with arrest for filming an officer at a road block, because he said filming him was against his human rights. This is contradicted by the Metropolitan website which states, “Members of the public and the media do not need a permit to film or photograph in public places and police have no power to stop them filming or photographing incidents or police personnel.”
Commenting after her release, Miss Strickland said: “I love cycling and was really looking forward to Critical Mass. There was no need to impose unreasonable restrictions on where we could go and therefore criminalise cycling. Most of the journey was fun, lots of bystanders cheered us on and it was peaceful, but police escalated the situation at various points and kettled a lot of people on Stratford High Street. I was arrested after giving a drink of water to someone else who had been arrested, which seemed to agitate the police officer Sergeant Seffer QK75.”