On Friday, environmental non-profit Time's Up! holds one of its Critical Mass bike rides, bringing cyclists to Union Square for a (potentially wet!) ride. But they'll also be marking a significant anniversary: Ten years ago this week, a police officer violently shoved a cyclist during a ride in Times Square, then falsely accused the cyclist of hitting him. The police officer was eventually fired—though only because the incident was caught on video.
The group, which predates the #MeToo Time's Up, describes Critical Mass as a "fun group bike ride [that] helped change New York City into the bicycle friendly city that we see today." But after an August 2004 Critical Mass ride turned into an anti-President George W. Bush ride—and 250 bicyclists were arrested as some New Yorkers mobilized during the Republican National Convention—the rides became more activist in nature, with hundreds participating to promote the cause of complete streets.
On July 25th, 2008, the Critical Mass participants rode through Times Square under the watchful eyes of the NYPD. Officer Patrick Pogan, who had been on the job for 11 days, claimed that cyclist Christopher Long rode right into him, knocking him down and causing "lacerations" to his arms.
Long was held for 26 hours and charged with attempted assault and resisting arrest. However, video from a tourist contradicted Pogan's account:
Gothamist first publicized the video, which shows Pogan deliberately targeting Long and then shoving him off his bike, on August 28, 2008. Soon after, the NYPD stripped Pogan, a third-generation police officer, of his gun and assigned him to desk duty.
Charges against Long were dropped a week later, but Pogan wasn't indicted until December 2008. By February 2009, Pogan left the NYPD—the department fired him, but his lawyer claimed he quit. The trial started more than a year later,in April of 2010.
His punishment: A conditional discharge.
Critical Mass meets at the north end of Union Square tonight, July 27th, at 7:00 p.m.