Volume 74, Number 23 | Octuber 6 - 12 , 2004

Bikers may sue over lock clippings

Bikers in the Critical Mass ride on Sept. 24 whose bikes were confiscated by police — after police clipped the bikes’ locks as they were chained up in Midtown — met on Tuesday night to decide whether they will pursue legal action over the incident.

Police clipped the locks of 40 bikes that were chained up on a block in the E. 30s on the night of the Critical Mass ride.
“There’s a strong possibility that we’re going to have to litigate that, because they are going out again in October,” said civil rights attorney Norman Siegel. A group ride through Manhattan, Critical Mass occurs the last Friday of every month, departing from Union Sq. N. at dusk.

Initially, Siegel said, the city justified the seizures by saying the locked bikes were abandoned property. Subsequently, Paul Browne, the Police Department’s Deputy Commissioner of Public Information, essentially said the police know that what the riders did — dismounting, locking the bikes up and ducking into a diner — is a tactic to avoid arrest.

“It’s very vindictive and punitive,” Siegel said. “It appears they have no legal authority to do what they did. If necessary, we’ll do a lawsuit to enjoin them from doing it again. I think we’ll go to federal court. Not enough politicians are speaking out on this.”

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