Baltimore IMC :
Baltimore IMC

News :: Peace

Four Arrested at Critical Mass Event

Four cyclists riding with Critical Mass were arrested today in downtown Baltimore. All were beaten by the police. Frank McCraw, ended up in Mercy Hospital.
Critical Mass planned a peaceful bike ride today that ended with four cyclists being pulled and or knocked off their bikes and arrested. The bike rides are routinely planned for the last Friday of each month. Specifically the anti-war ride was advertised for “riders of all experience and fitness” to attend this regularly scheduled event. Participants were encouraged to bring signs and noisemakers. The invitation to all levels of riders indicated that there was no intent to cause trouble in the streets.

From the beginning the atmosphere at the gathering at Redwood and Charles was tense. The police eventually outnumbered cyclists. One officer told the group, “I have kids to feed. I’m putting food on my table. My shift is over. Get out of here. I want to go home.” “Do you have a union?” someone asked. “Yes,” he answered. The person advised him to bring the problem up with his union.

The take-off from Charles Street did not occur as early as planned. At 6 p.m. when the Critical Mass group began to cycle up Charles Street, the police swerved their motorocycles and bicycles toward the riders, cutting off the cyclists and “clipping them.” Julie Brownley, riding for her first time with Critical Mass, said she “was pushed by an officer who rode behind her--his front bike tire pushing my rear tire.” She yelled at him to stop and told him she was not a good rider. The officer backed away. Brownley said that whether they were in the right lane, or in the left, police harassed the riders. Later she heard a policeman say to another, “The one in the black hat is going down first.”

The intimidation seemed to abate as the bikers approached the Washington Monument.

But as they started down St. Paul Street and continued to Light Street, the police suddenly revved their motorcycle engines and sped toward the front of the group. According to cyclist Scott Loughrey, police surrounded Cullen Simon, who was riding next to Loughrey. They told him he would be arrested. In a defensive posture, Simon began backing away from police on his bike. Police shoved him from the bike and began hitting him.

Carley, another rider, said that the front Critical Mass rider, James Johnsotn was knocked off his bike. The only African American rider, Frank McCraw objected to the rider’s treatment. But he was in turn knocked down on the ground and was roughed up by the police. Carley yelled at the police to “stop hitting him,” as the young man was punched, pulled and knocked around for about 2-3 minutes. She watched as the young man held onto his bike with one hand and covered his face with his other arm. A policeman knocked the rider’s hand off the bike with a billy club. As of 11:30 p.m. Friday evening, McGraw was being treated at Mercy Hospital for his injuries.

The four arrested were James Johnsotn, Frank McCraw, Cullen Simon and Todd Spalt. Except for McCraw all were taken to the Central Intake Booking Center. From the sidewalk, the rest of the cyclists tried to witness the treatment and arrest of the four CM cyclists, but were pushed back by police. Several suggested that this was an attempt to keep them from seeing how the cyclists were being treated. When asked for their names and badge numbers, most of the officers refused to give this information. One woman with a camera was told if she took pictures, “she would be arrested.”

There was neither rhyme nor reason to the response of the police to the youth. Maybe they were taking advantage of the small number of protesters, or perhaps they were angry because they wanted to be home with their families. Or perhaps they were told to make some arrests tonight. In any case, Baltimore City police, paid for with City residents' taxes to protect the law abiding, attacked a peaceful protest tonight causing a dangerous situation and potential for grave injury.


For the jail solidarity call, see

For a report on the April 17 arraignment of three of the four arrested see .

See also the report by Anna Ditkoff in the City Paper .

This site made manifest by dadaIMC software