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West Midlands Police Sniffing Around Birmingham's Critical Mass

Still We Ride | 05.01.2013 16:32 | Free Spaces | Repression | Birmingham

I thought I'd post this up here even though the Facebook group appears to be the main platform where people communicate about the mass. This platform has numerous advantages over discussing issues such as this. Namely, there is a much higher degree of anonymity on here and less of a chance of them profiling us. We can also discuss some of the issues here without the narcissistic crap associated with social networking and in terms of process we can try and ensure consensus decision making is adhered to. At this point, I'd like to point out that as far as I know, nobody has the authority to make decisions on behalf of the mass in terms of where it meets or take the initiative to liaise with cops or Church officials without the consent of the mass as a whole.

The mass last night with the 'punk as fuck' theme, as it gathered in the grounds of the Cathedral, was met by cops on bikes who distributed letters. The text of the letters is viewable on the Facebook group or if you have reservations about corporate social networking sites then you can read the letters here:

Birmingham Cathedral letter to Birmingham Critical Mass
Birmingham Cathedral letter to Birmingham Critical Mass

PC 2858 McGrath's letter to Birmingham Critical Mass
PC 2858 McGrath's letter to Birmingham Critical Mass

There are certain claims made in the letters about noise levels and the mass that I think are at best exaggerated and more realistically instrumental. I find it hard to believe that 30 seconds or up to one minutes worth of music from a small soundsystem on a bike can penetrate a Cathedral with stone walls many inches thick.

There is also a historical context here that's difficult to ignore. Pigeon Park has always been a meeting point for people to socialise freely without spending any money and the powers that be have tried to curtail this. The park itself is one of the few places in town that doesn't resemble a corporate lego land. I also understand that the Church refused to accommodate Occupy Birmingham when it capitulated to the Council's demands to make way for the Christmas German Market. This appears to be in stark contrast to what happened at St. Paul's in London.

The letter also mentions a bye law about cycling that it doesn't reference. I also understand that it's highly likely that the grounds around the Cathedral are historically a public right of way so it would be problematic at least to 'ban' cycling. There is also less CCTV around the Cathedral grounds compared to that of Victoria Square. If you haven't read the letters linked above, then Victoria Square is being touted by the cops as an alternative meeting point for the mass.

Critical Mass has gained a lot of momentum in Birmingham over the last couple of years, numbers are consistently high even during the colder, wetter months. It has attracted people that are keen cyclists and others that embrace the aesthetic of cycling but probably have little experience of how the police gain a foothold in social movements. To these people I think we should point out that cops aren't your friends and they certainly aren't remotely sincerely interested in coming on our mass for the reasons that they may have told you last night.

If anyone has been on the London mass and talked to veterans there, they will learn how people regret the intrusion of the authorities in their mass. At the same time when the mass was threatened by the SOCPA legislation, unprecedented numbers of cyclists defied the ban. It's also worth pointing out that not so long ago cops in New York unleashed a whole load of repression against cyclists on Critical Mass. People refused to take their repression lying down and still they ride..

I'd like to hear what people think/interpret from last nights interventions by the cops on here rather than Facebook if that's possible, and wherever possible we can unite together to resist any intrusions or impositions they may try and enforce on us.


Still We Ride


Display the following 7 comments

  1. Cycling — Cycler
  2. PC 2585 Dominic McGrath lets the cat outta the bag — Hipster has an epithany
  3. PC Dominic McGrath masterminds scheme to clear young people away from Pallasades — "Clearly, they don't like our choice of tunes."
  4. PC 2585 Dominic McGrath's mask slips again — wake up and smell the coffee!
  5. typo — Where's my donuts?
  6. PC 2858 Dominic McGrath harasses 'anti-social youth' and Brum's Critical Mass — Divide and rule
  7. "Reasonable request"? — Scampi