The police have decided not to press charges or take further action against the ‘vast majority’ of the 182 cyclists that were kettled and arrested whilst taking part in the July Critical Mass bike ride. The police do intend to interview a remaining sixteen people, and it is not yet known whether any of these will yet face charges.
Participants in the Critical Mass that night have described their experiences variously as traumatic, humiliating, frightening, uncomfortable and degrading. Held in a kettle (containment) and then on buses for hours, people have told us of having to urinate in public, and of being kept in handcuffs for long periods of time.
The Netpol lawyers group, which includes a number of firms representing critical mass defendants, issued the following statement;
“This has all the hallmarks of a flawed police operation. A regular event in London was over-policed because of paranoia about the Olympics. 182 people were arrested – kept on buses for hours without food or water because they couldn’t be booked in custody suites, released as soon as they made to the police station, given hugely restrictive bail conditions for several weeks and now, thankfully, they have been told there is no further action. We consider there are potential civil claims for compensation against the police following the mistreatment of our clients and will be taking this further.”
The news has prompted a range of responses from those who were arrested that night. Those who spoke to Netpol still feel extremely angry at what they believe was an unjustified attack on the Critical Mass. One cyclist who learned yesterday that she will not face any further action, told us;
“I’m relieved, but feel slightly bereft at losing this opportunity to challenge the police actions. I’m disgusted and devastated that the police could criminalise us like this. I want to know who decided to do this and why. It must have been hugely expensive.
It was my first critical mass. It was a lovely night, and I thought it would be a great time to do it, it being the Olympics. It was the greatest ride I’ve ever been on. I was loving it, riding freely and safely, having time to look around me. It was wonderful, fantastic. Then it turned into a nightmare.”