Police attack protesting cyclists

  • 2008-05-08
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon
RIGA - A video posted on the Internet has revealed what appears to be a police officer deliberately running down a bicycle rider during a large cyclist rights protest.
The video 's which was posted on YouTube,  the popular Internet home video Web site 's shows a motorcycle policeman swerving to hit a cyclist during a "critical mass" event on May 1.
"The police made a break to go at one of the riders. They were very aggressive… thankfully she is okay, but she was quite scared," Maris Zommers, who recorded the video and posted it on the Web site, told The Baltic Times.

Zommers said he managed to capture the video despite police's efforts to confiscate cameras and video-recorders at the event.
"Critical Mass" is a worldwide movement aimed at promoting cyclists rights. The protests consist of hundreds 's sometimes thousands 's of cyclists riding through the streets and momentarily blocking traffic. Local media reported that there were between 200 and 400 participants at the May 1 event.
The video is one of numerous pictures and movie clips that have been circulated online showing police dragging protesters and journalists away from the crowd. Online forums claim that seven bikers and four journalists were arrested.

Comments left on online forums claim that journalists were told they could step up onto the Victory Monument, a large monument celebrating Communist Russia's defeat of the Nazi regime, and then arrested when they tried to do so.
"In the beginning they arrested just one person, then the whole crowd started screaming 'Let them free! Let them free!' Then the police arrested more people. We had to move on because if we stop then they can arrest us," Zommers said.
Police representatives confirmed that seven people were arrested at the event but could not comment on the alleged detention of journalists or the video which has surfaced online.
Zommers said that the event was peaceful and the police had no reason to arrest any of the participants.
"[There was] not a single act of vandalism or anything like that. There were mothers with children and baby carriages. Just easy riding, it was not a working day and there was no traffic," he said.

This was not the first time that there has been alleged police brutality at a Critical Mass event in the Baltics. At an event in Vilnius last July, police took five participants into custody, including two minors, for not following orders to disband. At least two of the detainees later reported to have been beaten and injured by police officers.