Boris Johnson urged to break silence over mass arrest of cyclists

By staff writers
July 30, 2012

The London Green Party have urged Boris Johnson to break his silence over the arrest of 182 cyclists in east London during the Olympic opening ceremony on Friday evening (27 July).

Despite being one of the biggest mass arrests for years, the Mayor of London has still made no comment about it. The Greens say it raises vital questions over freedom to protest, police priorities and the right of Londoners to move around their own city.

The number of arrests was originally estimated to be about 100, and later 130. The police confirmed yesterday (29 July) that the figure was 182. The arrests took place during the Critical Mass cycle ride, a monthly event to celebrate cycling that takes place in around 300 cities around the world.

Police have still to explain why they used Section 12 of the Public Order Act to prevent participants from cycling north over Waterloo Bridge. Several hundred cycled over other bridges, of whom a number defied restrictions to cycle near Olympic venues in Stratford.

Video footage from the evening appears to show heavy-handed policing, including the use of CS gas.

Noel Lynch, Co-ordinator of the London Greens and a former member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, compared the values celebrated at the Olympics with the treatment of the cyclists by the authorities.

"The splendid Olympic opening ceremony rightly celebrated British traditions of freedom and democracy," he said today. "But while the opening ceremony applauded the suffragettes, peaceful protesters outside were being dragged from their bikes. While Olympian cyclists prepared for Saturday's road race, hundreds of Londoners were stopped from cycling in their own city."

The police have now confirmed that of the 182 arrested, 178 have been released on bail, while the others have been charged. Bail conditions for many include restrictions on cycling in parts of London and travelling near Olympic sites.

Lynch added, "Londoners want to enjoy the Olympics, not be scared to move around London. The Critical Mass cycle ride is a monthly event that usually passes peacefully and without incident. Why did the police react like this? Boris Johnson has urgent questions to answer."


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