George Floyd Memorial Ride

June 6th, 2020 by ccarlsson
This image went out on FB, Instagram, Twitter, and many individual email threads… and it worked! About 2,500-3000 people turned up on the First Friday of June in San Francisco.

I was pinged multiple times in the two days prior to Friday and several friends wrote me, asking if I was going to go… I haven’t been to Critical Mass in San Francisco for about a year, and only went intermittently in the few years before that… it has long ago lost its purpose, its joy, and its function as place to meet, discuss, and imagine a better world.

So I wasn’t expecting more than maybe 150-250 people to show up for this, on the first Friday (as opposed to the longstanding tradition of riding only on Last Fridays). By the time I got there, about 6 pm, the ride was already rolling and it was a sight to behold! Thousands of cyclists were pouring up Market Street, many adorned with the ubiquitous homemade signage of the past weeks of protest. I was SO happy! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I rode and weaved among the cyclists, finding friends, and just enjoying the happy knowledge that A) San Franciscans are all out in solidarity these days; and B) Doing a Critical Mass-style ride is deeply in our cultural DNA. So here’s some shots I took.

One of the best themes developing in these suddenly urgent and rapidly changing days is the demand to defund the police. It’s on many of the signs.

One of my first political experiences was attending the San Quentin Six trial back in 1975 in Marin County, and during that period I became aware of the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA), a federal agency started under Nixon to standardize police practices nationally and to promote the use of surplus military equipment, a process that has radically expanded in the following decades.

Colin Kaepernick jerseys were common, and it’s good to see his vindication in this moment.
As I entered Market Street from Spear, I was stunned to see the ride stretching westward as far as I could see…
Most of us were masked up for Covid-19… it felt safe to be in a huge crowd!
Dogpaw was holding it down for the oldtimers!
Of course, passing the freeway ramp at Octavia was dramatic with a big crowd of cops blocking the ramps. For the most part, the cops left the ride alone, as it went straight up Market to Castro, taking the full width of the whole street most of the way, impressively!
Everyone stopped at Castro and filled the intersection as various folks spoke and performed.

Maybe Critical Mass as a monthly event has passed its time (not such a big deal, after 28 years!)… but it’s great that the tactic was on the shelf ready to be embraced by thousands of San Franciscans who know how to do it!

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