City Last Night’s Critical Mass Melee
posted by July 26 at 11:14 AMon
Last night brought a general query from Slog tipper John:
What’s this about Critical Mass riders beating the shit out of a driver and his car at 16th and Aloha?
This morning brings a report from KING 5:
A demonstration turned violent Friday night after a group of cyclists taking part in the Critical Mass demonstration got into an argument with a driver on Seattle’s Capitol Hill.
Critical Mass is a group of cyclists that takes to the streets the last Friday of every month to promote cyclists’ right to the road.
It’s wasn’t clear what sparked the confrontation at 15th and Aloha, but witnesses say they saw about a dozen cyclists surround a white Subaru, blocking in the driver.
Apparently, the driver felt intimidated and tried to back up to get away, but he backed into at least two cyclists.
He then tried to take off, but cyclists chased after him, bashed in his car window and assaulted the driver. The driver was taken to an area hospital.
This morning also brought two eyewitness reports sent to Last Days.
Eyewitness #1 was a bystander:
I was just looking up news information about an event that I witnessed tonight and found a frighteningly misinformed article on the event on the King 5 news website. Their “Bicycle demonstration turns violent” article paints a picture of cyclist brutality committed on a vehicle, injuring the driver and scaring the passenger, who they describe as a pregnant woman. While there is no denying that the cyclists circled the car and trashed it, this was all an attempt to stop the car and driver from possibly hurting anyone else, as the scene they describe in their newscast takes place about 200 ft from the scene where the motorist accelerated from 0 to 40 THROUGH a standing line of cyclists at Aloha and 14th, luckily only injuring two of them as his car was pointed at a group of six.
I was standing about 20 feet from the scene and saw the entire altercation. I honestly cannot believe what I saw. Originally, the vehicle was trying to inch (westward on Aloha) into an oncoming mass of cyclists on a narrow road, where he had to pull into the oncoming traffic lane in order to get around the cars parked in his lane. About 6 cyclists peeled off to park themselves in front of the vehicle, explaining that he needed to wait and they would all be out of his way in a minute. The driver, however, remained agitated and expressed that they were “in a rush” and “would be late”. When the cyclists asked what they were going to be late for, the driver responded, “We have reservations!”, which left the group largely speechless until one of the cyclists again explained that he would save a lot of time and trouble if he just waited another 30 seconds for the rest of the cyclists to pass. At that moment, the driver suddenly put his car in reverse and backed up—5 feet into the sidewalk (now the car is parallel to Aloha—thank goodness there were no pedestrians behind him!)—and stopped. This strange behavior panicked everyone and no one moved except to shout “Stop.” This is when his passenger started yelling for him to “Calm down and stop” as well. After staying put for about 10 seconds, the driver then said “fuck this” and accelerated into the line of standing cyclists. When he hit the first ones, he continued to accelerate, but steered into the larger mass of cyclists before turning the wheel and tearing off in the opposite direction (east on Aloha) with one of the hit cyclists still on the roof of his car.
The driver sped down Aloha with a mess of bicycles and cyclists in his wake, a cyclist on his roof, and everyone, including his pregnant passenger, yelling for him to “Just stop!” At the bottom of the hill, the driver stopped at a stop sign and the cyclists swarmed the car, slashing his tires and breaking the windows in order to make sure that he did not continue operating his vehicle through the city like a madman. His door was opened, the driver got out of the car in tears and walked, unmolested back up to where the cyclists were splayed out in the street apologizing to everyone. His passenger was relatively calm, also walked up the street unmolested, and explained that her friend had made a mistake and that she had been yelling for him to calm down and stop the car. While there was a little hysterical yelling by the freightened bicyclists, there was absolutely no physical confrontation.
The reason that I am writing you is that it seems alarmingly irresponsible that such a biased story would be printed and broadcast when King 5 admits that “It’s wasn’t clear what sparked the confrontation”. Not that this is surprising by any means, which is unfortunate. I guess I just want to make sure that the real story is put out there before this damning misinterpretation gains any steam.
Eyewitness #2 was a Critical Mass participant:
Near the end of a particularly hilly ride, on Aloha E near 14th, a driver got pissed that we were blocking both lanes of the road and, after yelling “Get the fuck outta my way, we’ve got reservations!” proceeded to gun it into a crowd of maybe 11 cyclists! He then backed up and—with a young man on his now broken windshield—drove through the cyclists, some of whom had fallen on the road, again. He tried at this point to flee the scene in his car. The uninjured riders absolutely mobbed the vehicle, breaking his back window with a U-lock and stopping the car about half a block later by slashing the front tires. The driver was then pulled from the vehicle by the angry group of riders (a few, maybe 5 or 6?) and assaulted (I KNOW he was hit at least once because I heard a rider admit to hitting him,) though later he kept insisting that he was not injured. He did end up covered in blood but, strangely, it wasn’t his. I know this because a few minutes later, after the confrontation, he sat by the car and asked a rider with a bloody hand, “Is this yours?” There was a passenger in the car and I’m pretty sure it was her birthday party they were headed to. The driver did apologize profusely once he was pulled from the car (maybe this is the reason he didn’t get beaten beyond recognition?) and kept insisting that he hadn’t meant to hit the gas pedal, that he thought it was the brakes. I don’t believe that for a second, his actions looked absolutely intentional and he was angry when he did it, but he did seem genuinely shaken up and said he was sorry over and over. I think he was in shock. In the end, I believe only four cyclists were injured, there were about 20 witnesses to the crazy scene, and at least two bikes were totally wrecked. It took the police about five minutes to show up, by then people on all sides had calmed down a little and the officers handled the situation beautifully. Ambulances arrived less than two minutes after that.
Holy crap. Stay tuned.
UPDATE from Hot Tipper Ersa:
2 of the bikers got arrested for property damage, and they are booked to jail. THEY HAVE COURT TODAY STARTING AT 12.30 PM AT KING COUNTY COURT HOUSE, COURT ROOM #1. So we need people who saw what happened to contact us, because the driver is trying to pull off that he didn’t do anything.
Channel 5 tried to interview us, but we refused to talk with them, and it seems like media is showing the incident like “Violent bikers attacked a car…” Bikers who got hit by the maniac driver, and bikers who got arrested need support from the community. Please contact via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, if you were witness or if you could show any kind of support, and share ideas…
Again, stay tuned.