City Report from a Critical Mass Eyewitness
posted by July 26 at 18:56 PMon
Jonah just got off the phone with Abigail Wharton, a 25-year-old who was on last night’s Critical Mass ride, along with her husband, her mother, and her stepfather.
From her position about 50 yards away, Wharton says she saw about four or five cyclists around a white Subaru that was being driven by a white, well-dressed man in his mid- to late-20s. She heard him yell at the cyclists, “Get the fuck out of my way! We’ve got reservations!” When the cyclists continued to block his car, “he just got really irrational,” driving his car into the crowd, knocking over two cyclists and backing his car over several bikes left in the road as cyclists jumped out of his way. Wharton says the driver then pulled forward again, forcing one cyclist onto his windshield (and possibly breaking the cyclist’s ankle).
Wharton says the initial report from King 5 news, which characterized the cyclists as aggressors and the driver as an innocent victim, was “totally inaccurate. They painted it as this mob of angry cyclists attacking the car,” which couldn’t be further from the truth, Wharton says. She describes public reaction to news reports as “they got what was coming to them.”
After the man attempted to flee the scene, Wharton says, a cyclist or cyclists slashed his tires to stop him. One cyclist reached into the driver-side window and punched the driver, then opened the door and pulled him out. Later, as he was sitting on the sidewalk covered in blood, Wharton says, the driver asked one of the cyclists if it was his.
Wharton says the fact that two cyclists were arrested and jailed, but the driver wasn’t, is “fucking insane.”
Wharton, who owns a car and who was riding on her second-ever Critical Mass ride, says she doubts she’ll participate in next month’s ride.
Seattle Police Department spokesman Mark Jamieson told Jonah: “The driver at this point is being treated as the victim. He pulled out onto the street and was surrounded by cyclists. … Why didn’t they let him out into the street? The onus is on the people in the group.” SPD has two cyclists in custody, and are searching for a third believed to be involved in damaging the driver’s car. Despite numerous eyewitness statements that he ran over several cyclists with his Subaru, the driver has not been charged; Jamieson says that decision will ultimately rest with the King County prosecutor’s office.