Posted by: fullandbye | August 1, 2008

long-ass entry

Some correspondence between me and my parents. Read this only if you are interested in
a) my thoughts on the last Critical Mass
b) my thoughts on risk being the marrow of convictions
c) some really good advice on what to do if you ever land yourself in jail.

Otherwise, don’t read this. Look at pictures of bunnies or cats on the interwebz. Or go outside. It is nice outside right now.

from Raz Barnea
to Becky
Nir Barnea
Carol Nelsen
date Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 3:16 PM
subject news you can trust

The Stranger finally got something right

This is the most reasonable account of this story I have found. I witnessed the very beginning of this, but was already past when he plowed into cyclists and ran some of us over.

His statements raise troubling issues. Why the hell is revving your engine to”try to be macho and scare some people” socially acceptable behavior? This behavior is not legal, but it is tolerated.

To me, as a cyclist, revving one’s engine is precisely analogous to taking out a gun and waving it around. 3000lbs of gasoline powered vehicle is every bit as lethal as a magazine of bullets, and revving the engine is an admission to thinking of his car as a weapon. Engine revs and he says “Look at me! I’m armed. I have control of this weapon and you fuckers better get out of my way!”. But of course, to hear his account and the SPD version of things, the car slipped into gear and that is why people got run over.

Fucking Bullshit.

Of course, if he had waved an actual gun around, he would have been in jail by now. Instead he gets off because he whimpered that he was frightened and “I did not know the car was in gear”. Does this sound to anyone else like “I did not know the gun was loaded!”? And yet somehow we collectively have not come to appreciate the lethality of cars.

Mounds upon mounds of bullshit.

SPD is still considering this driver a victim. They are unwilling to draw the comparison between an running engine and a loaded gun. They are unwilling to make the comparison between a crazed gunman who should have his guns confiscated and a driver who is unable to control his emotions and should have no privileges behind the wheel.

And the citizenry is calling for Critical Mass to be shut down.

I’ll be at the next Critical Mass. I’ll come armed with lollipops to give to drivers. I’ll come armed with the luxury of health insurance in this fucked up country. I’ll come armed with a willingness to cork intersections, to run through red lights in order to stay with the group, and to exercise civil disobedience, as I always have at Critical Mass, because damn am I angry about all this.

If I get arrested for non-violent protest, do you all have my back?



from b b
to Nir Barnea
Carol Nelsen
Raz Barnea
date Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 9:22 PM
subject Re: news you can trust

hide details 9:22 PM (12 hours ago)


I will always have your back. Period. End Paragraph.

However, having worked in jails and prisons for 14 years I have some thoughts to share:

1. Have everyone that can keep a video device of some sort at the ready. Make sure someone has your back.

2. If you are arrested, do not resist. Smile for the camera (see item #1)

3. Say NOTHING other than “I want a lawyer.”
Here is the URL of a pod cast Allan feels you need to view. It is aobut how to interact with policemen.

4. Jailers are not nice or smart. They are mean and arbitrary. They also have the power. If you get taken in to custody practice “radical acceptance”. Be nice, be polite, be humble. Listen, observe, say as little as possible. – DO ask the booking nurse to let “Diane Edwards, the nurse practitioner” know who you are, and to please call your Mom.

5. Think about the consequences – before you act. Will this effect the peace corps application? Other future plans you may have. Rosa Parks was not an arbitrary bus passenger. She was chosen by the leadership because she was nice, polite, had no record. She was coached on what to say……

6. Jail is NOT the place to make friends. Keep to yourself (or talk to other bike people if they are behaving them selves). The other inmates – try to keep your distance. Emotional and to whatever degree possible physical. There ARE bad infections you are at risk of catching in the jail – including MRSA.

7. Before you go cover any and all skin sores you may have. When you see the booking nurse ask to have all new sores covered. (You can tell them your Mom used to work there and wants this done. It is pretty likely they may know who I am and be willing to do this.)

8. You may want to try to call Noam. He was arrested a few times and found the experience highly traumatic.

I love you sweetie.



from Nir Barnea
to Raz Barnea
Becky Bay home
Carol Nelsen
date Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 9:30 PM
subject Re: news you can trust

hide details 9:30 PM (13 hours ago)


I’ll come visit you in jail…

yeah, the motorist was an SOB and should be charged. Everyone needs to take a deep breath, and relax. For cyclists, there is no point in turning violent to make a point. Cyclist will never be Hell Angels, and you don’t want to. Besides, time is on your side. With gas prices the way they are, before long we will all be biking.


from Raz Barnea
to Becky Bay
cc Nir Barnea
Carol Nelsen
date Fri, Aug 1, 2008 at 1:24 AM
subject Re: news you can trust

hide details 1:24 AM (9 hours ago)


I don’t doubt Noam found the experience highly traumatic.
I don’t doubt the consequences could be serious.

But I really think that talk is cheap. I also think that the measure of one’s political convictions can only be measured against the risk one takes by acting upon them. In a country that protects free speech, what right do I have comparing my belief in free speech to someone living in a country where speaking out comes at significant risk? Living in a country that affords me great freedom means that my liberal convictions tend to come at almost no demand, sacrifice, or risk.

And I believe in bicycles. I believe in bicycle community. I believe in civil disobedience. And I believe in non-violence. Once a month, I become one of many and I go out and have a wonderful time being a part of a loud, boisterous voice calling for change, awareness, recognition, etc.

Thus far, I have never felt as though this behavior put me at great physical or legal risk, but after last week I have had to re-examine that sense of security and ask myself “now what”.

Now comes risk. I do not know if the risk is new. Maybe it was always there, and my feeling it so acutely is just a head change. Or maybe the SPD will succumb to public pressure to shut us down and I spend bumbershoot weekend in King County Jail. Maybe the Mayor embraces Critical Mass and sends a bicycle escort to keep us company and ensure that violent confrontations that endanger cyclists and motorists do not happen while we are parading around Seattle. The risk is the unknown, but the measure of my conviction is my willingness to accept the unknown I suppose.

I could lay low for awhile and wait for this to blow over. But I feel more compelled to shoulder this risk, to apply peer pressure to Critical Mass participants who are asking for trouble. To be part of the merry majority that self-polices the belligerent minority, and to pass out lollipops to bewildered motorists and confused pedestrians and maybe, just maybe, get them to smile in spite of themselves.




I gotta say, when it comes to parents. I lucked the hell out.



  1. Even as someone who’s primarily a motorist, it strikes me as absurd to the point of tears that running someone over with a vehicle is considered a traffic infraction, whereas ripping off a small chunk of said automobile (say, the bumper) and hitting someone with it would be assault. WTF, folks?
    Also, as I found out the hard way a few years back, apparently hit and run is a valid legal tactic in Washington. Even if you have the license plate and the car description, the cops won’t investigate unless you can identify the driver. (Making tinted windows basically a blanket license to do whatever you want on the road.) So I guess if you get run over and they start to leave, you should be sure to get a good look at their face? Perhaps busting their windshield in the process?
    I dunno. This whole thing’s just ugly.

  2. I think one of the most important things for people to have at critical mass is image capturing devices. Cameras, video recorders, hell – even a voice recorder. I’m guessing we’ll almost always get the short of the stick in events like this. The video of the NYPD body checking the cyclist is incredibly fortunate both for the cyclists and hopefully for the city. That the cop is a complete liar and physically violent is sort of scary.

  3. I have been thinking about that a lot recently. The ubiquity of image capturing devices is both a blessing and a curse.
    My thoughts on this topic are jumbled at best.

  4. Didn’t you recently buy a helmet camera?

  5. No.
    But a helmet cam was delivered to my work directly from the manufacturer, free of charge, for us to test. Someone else in the office has it and I need to get it back before the next CM.
    Man, I wish I had that thing tonight for the DBD. That would be amazing.

  6. Thanks for sharing the advice on jail, I think that’s actually useful knowledge.
    I completely agree with you that revving your engine and threatening people with your car is socially unacceptable behavior and should be discouraged. Perhaps even with laws. But we live in a culture where being macho and threatening, and asserting your control over the vulnerable is encouraged and rewarded.
    I don’t know, the cultural norms surrounding the situation remind me of street-harassment (whistles, hollers, comments on my body, etc), and it’s probably the same genre of asshole that commits both. It is so fucked up that people got hurt, but this sort of behavior usually gets a chuckle and pass from anyone with the power to do anything about it.

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