On Friday night in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a motorist intentionally plowed through a large, peaceful crowd of bicyclists participating in that city’s Critical Mass ride. It is a horrific incident, captured on video from several angles. If this is not attempted murder with a deadly weapon, I don’t know what is.
Yesterday, as on every last Friday of the month Critical Mass was held, which is a manifestation of what happens in the world when cyclists seek space in traffic, to raise awareness that we ARE PART of the traffic. Bicycles are a self-sustainable, less expensive, and environmentally friendly alternative, even if they’re commonly associated with leisure and recreation.
But what happened yesterday was beyond any expectation we could have had. A driver / killer ran over our group of cyclists. What happened was very scary, and I did not understand what was happening, because we could hear screams and the sound of people falling on the ground, the sound of bodies in the hood, windshield, on the asphalt. I saw legs in the air, helmets, bicycles, arms, all mixed together with parts of the car… all flying and making noise. It was like a horror movie.
Other news sources say the attacker has been identified.
Although police found the badly damaged car on Friday night they have not yet been able to locate it’s driver thought to be the 47-year old owner of the vehicle, Ricardo José Neif [actually the name is Ricardo José Neis according to a commenter here]. While local cyclists have called for the driver to be charged with attempted murder, according to Porto Alegre’s Police Chief, Gilberto Montenegro it is not yet possible to say if the driver intended to run over the cyclists, maybe he hasn’t seen the videos. However, Chief Montenegro has said that If intent is proven the driver may wel face a charge of attempted murder.
One cyclist who was on the ride Camilo Colling, told the Brazilian website Terra Brasil that he spoke to the driver just before the incident, asking him to be patient and stop behaving aggressively towards the riders in his path and warning him that there were children and older people taking part in the ride ahead. The driver allegedly replied “Yes but I’m in a hurry” before ploughing his car in to the group of cyclists in front of him.
Our hearts are with the victims of this horrific crime. Let’s dedicate the March Critical Mass to our friends in Brazil, so they know that they are not alone. And let’s hope the violent attacker will be held accountable for his crime.
Here’s the video (warning: violent images)”
Update: I asked a friend who speaks and reads Portugese to give a rough translation of the latest news. Here’s what he said:
The latest news on their blog is that a particular person was identified as the motorist responsible, and he was planning to turn himself in to the police today (Sunday). Although nobody died, the other Critical Mass riders are upset that press reports have used the term “accident” instead of language like “attack” or “attempted murder”. The Porto Alegre CM community is extremely angry and is planning some protests, including one that already happened and a large rally upcoming on March 3.
translates as something like “well, I’m from Porto Alegre”, or “it’s just that I’m from Porto Alegre”, or “it’s because I’m from Porto Alegre”.
According to this article, there were 10 cyclists hit and 5 of them were taken to a hospital for medical attention. That article also says that it was a hit-and-run.