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Anti-War

Police Violence at Ride for Peace
by A legal observer
Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
The monthly Sacramento Critical Mass bicycle celebration was again preyed upon by police misconduct, harassment, and false citations, culminating in the violent arrest and injury of a young mother who witnesses say simply asked a question.
colleen-in-pain-4.jpg
colleen-in-pain-4.jpg

See story below after photos.
§Sgt. Huff and police video at start of ride
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
huff-huff-huffin.jpg
huff-huff-huffin.jpg

North Capitol Steps, gathering point for the ride. Sgt. Huff wanted to know where all the bicyclists from the Bay Area were. He became very upset when the police violence and false arrest against a young woman two years earlier, in September 2001, was brought up, and insisted that this was not a related time. Subsequent events proved him wrong.
§This is the abuser.
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
520-number-easier.jpg
520-number-easier.jpg

This is the officer who prefers to be known as a number. His name is J. Schaffer, # 520. He said he would beat his children if they went on the bike ride. He initiated the violent arrest against the young mother who witnesses said only asked him a question.
§First clump of citations
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
citation-scene-one.jpg
citation-scene-one.jpg

§Second citation scene.
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
citation-scene-two.jpg
citation-scene-two.jpg

§Cops video constantly
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
cops-video-constantly.jpg
cops-video-constantly.jpg

§Third citations scene.
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
third-citation-clump.jpg
third-citation-clump.jpg

Officers here claimed the bicyclists who had pulled over were blocking the sidewalk with their bikes. A huge motorcycle blocked a wheelchair ramp while a woman in a wheelchair waited across the street.
§A video legal observer is nearly run off the road
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
run-off-road.jpg
run-off-road.jpg

This officer nearly struck a video legal observer and shouted that he needed to be "as close as possible to the right side of the road", which is false. Bicyclists are sometimes restricted to ride as close as "practicable" (e.g., safe) to the right-hand side of the travelled way, when none of the many exceptions to that directive are in effect.
§Single-file.
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
single-file-snakin-mass-3.jpg
single-file-snakin-mass-3...

Adapting to the unlawful order to ride single file, the bicyclists formed a subtle snaking cycle chain, a powerful statement of unity in the face of adversity.
§Unified lane change
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
unified-lane-change.jpg
unified-lane-change.jpg

Unified lane change -- a bicycle ballet, testimony to the spirit.
§single file, what a joy
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
single-file-snakin-mass.jpg
single-file-snakin-mass.jpg

oh yay, single file
§Signal or...
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
signa-heil.jpg
signa-heil.jpg

A sign of the times. Police demanded it.
§A bike activist is falsely cited.
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
citation-scene-four.jpg
citation-scene-four.jpg

A bike activist is falsely cited.
§the violent arrest is underway
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
collen-in-pain-1.jpg
collen-in-pain-1.jpg

the violent arrest is underway
§the victim is suffering tremendously
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
colleen-in-pain-2.jpg
colleen-in-pain-2.jpg

the victim is suffering tremendously
§jail is closed
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
jail-is-closed.jpg
jail-is-closed.jpg

it's hard to believe it's a coincidence.

while in jail, the arrestee heard police talking about how Critical Mass was outside.

Do they really fear peaceful bicyclists so much?
§you don't get to sign...
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
pink-cuffed.jpg
pink-cuffed.jpg

...when you're in handcuffs, you don't get to sign for your property.
§impounded pink belt
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
pink-belt-bag.jpg
pink-belt-bag.jpg

§sacramento's red squad?
by A legal observer Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 12:58 AM
cops-video-constantly.jpgl16027.jpg
cops-video-constantly.jpg...



Sacramento, Dateline: April 4, 2003

The monthly Sacramento Critical Mass bicycle celebration was again preyed upon by police misconduct, harassment, and false citations, culminating in the violent arrest and injury of a young mother who witnesses say simply asked a question.

This month's ride was joined again by anti-war bicyclists. Flyers had advertised a "Ride for Peace" at Critical Mass. Bikes Not Bombs demonstrators have repeatedly made the connection between the war on Iraq and car culture, which is a manifestation of the military-industrial complex. http://www.bikesnotbombs.net/

"They got the name wrong when they dubbed this war `Operation Iraqi Freedom', because that just spells `OIF' and the war sure ain't free," said one Bikes Not Bombser. "I think they really meant Operation Iraq Liberation, which spells `OIL'. That's what this war's really all about, not about freeing oppressed people. In the 22 prior campaigns of the U.S. bombing a foreign country since the end of World War II, a democratic government has never directly resulted. So when they say liberation they really mean the oil."

The war at home was directed against anyone who would subvert the oil and motorcar monopoly to protest the war abroad.

The 25-30 riders did everything they could to comply with the demands of the large police presence, asking officers many questions at the beginning of the ride as a show of good faith and in earnest, genuine efforts to comply with State law and avoid citations. The explicitly stated goal of the police to "issue as many citations as possible" seemed to dominate police practice, however.

Although Sgt. Huff promised that any motorists committing violations would be cited, this was repeatedly proven to be false. Just two examples: firstly, after travelling only one block, stopped at a red light, officers ordered bicyclists to move back behind the limit line, but did not so order a motorcar which had stopped well over the line. Secondly, during a traffic stop with many officers present, a motor vehicle blatantly violated the right of way of a legal observer who was crossing the street in a crosswalk. He called out and demanded they cite the offending motorist, but they took no action.

In contrast, bicyclists were again treated with less than zero tolerance. Within a short time after starting the ride, bicyclists were being pulled over in group after group and cited, until five citation scenes with had developed along commercial J-street.

Some cyclists were ordered at some points along the route to ride single file, which they happily complied with despite the verbal objection that there is nothing in the California Vehicle Code which would require them to ride single-file. The cyclists legally occupied the right lane under CVC 21202(a), and at times the left lane under CVV 21202(b). Some remarked that although the joy of riding abreast and sharing good conversation was lost, that a synchronized, subtly snaking line of cyclists made even more of a statement. More than once, groups would choose to change from one side of the street to the next, dutifully raising their signa[hei]l arms to appease the motor-first police overseers. Despite the draconian circumstances, such synchronized biking was a beautiful ballet, a testimony to the human spirit.

At one point, a legal observer was nearly run into by an unidentified police car which was deliberately driven into his lane, forcing him dangerously close to parked cars.

The last major citation stop of the evening came just as darkness fell. A young woman had been forced off the road by a police motorcycle and cited for allegedly failing to ride single file (which is not against the law). Another woman had just photographed two police motorcycles travelling side-by-side down the center lane. A third woman attempted to ask why the officer (badge #520) thought it illegal for two bicyclists to travel side-by-side in the right lane. He refused to answer. The woman asked again and he stepped off his motorcycle and, as witnesses attest, he proceeded to grab her violently about the neck, and as she began screaming in pain other officers forced her to the ground and violently arrested her. Her pain was exacerbated by a pre-existing neck and back injury. Her trauma at being taken into custody was further exacerbated by concern for her small child, who she feared she would not be able to care for once stolen away by police.

Witnesses say the officer, # 520, had earlier said that if he found his children on the bicycle ride, that he would beat them, evincing his violent tendencies.

Earlier, while citing two visitors from bicycle-friendly Davis, (the bicycle capitol of the USA, a town which just began to enjoy regular Critical Mass rides), officer #520 indicated his preference to avoid being named.

"It's easier to just be a number," he said.

"Sheesh," stated one demonstrator in awe and shock when she heard this. "Remember the concentration camps."

In all, at least seven bicyclists were cited, in addition to the arrest.

The group rode to 7th and I streets to the jail, in order to protest and find out what had happened to the woman arrested. Upon arrival, a hastily made hand-written note saying, "JAIL CLOSED" was taped up and officers quickly locked the doors. The excuse was that the computers were down. A bail bondsman from across the street said this was most unusual, that although the computers were down, that the police normally didn't lock the doors when the computers were down, even at night, and that the jail had been open all day. "We have to be able to get inside to bail people out, they have to leave it open," he said. He said that even during protests, they normally don't lock the doors. Demonstrators felt this was more than coincidence. A group of families who were waiting to see their incarcerated loved ones plead for the group to leave so the jail would be reopened in hopes that they could see their families, as visiting hours are very restricted, only a few times a week. One family had been waiting all day for the chance. The group granted them the wish and left in hopes that the jail would be opened again at least for the families' sake.

When video observers later attempted to take their footage of the violent arrest to the mass media, only one station even agreed to see the footage. They were told by a reporter there that, "I can't sell this. Unless you've got cops beating someone the public's not gonna think it's brutality," ignoring the woman's pained expressions and cries of agony. The reporter and others in the editing rooms were distracted by the war, cheers erupting for the hope of tanks entering Baghdad. The reporter had declined to interview witnesses who would testify to the context of the arrest.

The next day, the woman who was arrested was released with the charge of battery on a "peace" officer (evidently this term means the officer's job is to target the peaceful). PC 243b. The woman suffered numerous cuts and bruises. She had blood on her in many places while in custody. She says an officer coldly videotaped her as she was handcuffed on a wall, then officers went on to show their own video of her arrest to numerous officers and other prisoners. She was released early in the morning feeling terrible. She had great difficulty performing basic tasks the next day. Just adjusting her shirt caused wincing pain. A puppy jumping on her caused more pain. She is still having very serious trouble writing, which is interfering with her schooling, and she cannot lift 20 pounds objects as required for work, so has been unable to earn money. Her paperwork finally identified the officer who (like a number of others) would not identify. J. Schaffer, # 520.

The discrimination against these peaceful travellers appears to be more endemic than the Police Department alone.

Earlier that day, a group of cyclists went to court to be arraigned for their citations suffered during the previous month's ride. As one rider wrote to the National Lawyer's Guild, "On March 7, at least ten bicyclists were given harassment citations while travelling in a group, followed closely by police who do not fully know our rights. The group was substantially obeying the vehicle code, moreso than most bicyclists do [or motorists, of course!]. In court yesterday we each attempted to ask for a Murgia motion hearing of the judge and the clerk, yet were instead given a set trial date of May 7. We then went to room 100 at the Carol Miller Justice Center (sp?) to each, individually (7 of us at that point, I believe) ask for a motion date. We were given dates of June 6. We were given no means of changing our trial dates so that pre-trial motions would occur in advance of trial. We went to the DA's office to ask their assistance, as we were told the DA has to sign off on any date change. Note that the DA had been given an 8-page letter detailing why we were not guilty [many of the citations are clearly false on their face] and why we have grounds for Murgia [a motion to dismiss based on arbitrary and discriminatory police enforcement], but they chose instead to force us to trial rather than dismiss the citations. At the DA's office, no one would give a full name, and they were not helpful. We were peaceful, I was the main person who spoke, no one raised their voice. Upon leaving, two young women with the group were chased down and stopped and ID'd for allegedly attempting to incite a riot in the DA's office. The most 'riotious' thing I said was that having a pre-trial motion after the trial prejudices our trials."

A story and photos from that ride were reported on SF Indymedia:

http://www.indybay.org/news/2003/03/1580989.php

A lawsuit coordinated by the Bicycle Civil Liberties Union (BCLU) has been brought against the Sacramento Police Department for abuses against the monthly rides committed in 2001. Activists intend to expand that suit to include these most recent abuses. For more background see http://www.bclu.org/sactocm/

Comments  (Hide Comments)

by another good person who's really worried
Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 1:54 PM
thanks for this story and all the photos, i know that must take a lot of work.

i wanted to mention that the story looks especialy dramatic, the main photo especially, if you choose the black-color scheme. just click on the little black box in the top right. is that photo for real, with the cop lit up evil blue and the girl all fire red? it's a really dramatic photo

oh yeah and imc needs funds to keep putting up stories, click on the donate links to help them if you can. how many of us benefit from imc and never donate?

thanks again.
by another good but worried person
Wednesday Apr 9th, 2003 2:11 PM
thanks for this story and all the photos, i know that must take a lot of work.

i wanted to mention that the story looks especialy dramatic, the main photo especially, if you choose the black-color scheme. just click on the little black box in the top right. is that photo for real, with the cop lit up evil blue and the girl all fire red? it's a really dramatic photo

oh yeah and imc needs funds to keep putting up stories, click on the donate links to help them if you can. how many of us benefit from imc and never donate?

thanks again.
by fire
Saturday Apr 12th, 2003 2:13 PM
Officer Schaffers abusive and inhumane actions must be addressed. He must be removed ASAP from position of a "Peace Officer". The Sacramento Police Department should deamnd that he seek counseling from WEAVE, to prevent him from hurting anyone else. WEAVE offers confidential services to abusers and their victims.