Update on clash between police and Critical Mass bicyclists

A video provided to City Pages courtesy of Loring Park resident Paula Hare captures the prelude to Friday's tussle between local law enforcement agencies and cycling advocacy group Critical Mass.

The footage shows an MPD officer—presumably high-ranking—approaching his underlings with candid orders.

"Drive down Nicolet, herd the assholes down this way. Any blocking of traffic, any blocking of anything, arrest them."

The MPD's official explanation for the arrests and their use of force places little emphasis on the blocking of traffic. Lt. Marie Przynski—Friday night’s watch commander—told KARE 11 News last night that officers were "attacked" by cyclists. No police involved in the skirmish have issued comment thus far.

Lt. Bryan Schafer, this weekend's watch commander, was hesitant to speculate as to what sparked the mass altercation.

"I wasn't there," he said. "All I know is that one person was arrested for an infraction and the rest came in surrounded the police."

Witnesses say the cyclists' actions were confined to verbal pleas for police restraint. After the first two cyclists were arrested, some Critical Mass participants began chanting, "Let them go!"

Of the 19 individuals who were subsequently arrested, 16 were adults and charged with third degree riot. The three juveniles were released.

According to state statute, third degree riot is committed "when three or more persons assembled disturb the public peace by an intentional act or threat of unlawful force or violence to person or property."

The charge carries up to one year of imprisonment and/or a $1,000 fine. Due to the Labor Day holiday, the 16 alleged rioters will remain in custody until at least Tuesday when they’ll appear before a judge, Schafer said.

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