[Tr.h.] Critical Mass Court Case

criticalmass trondheim CriticalMass at speed-racer.com
Fri Nov 22 18:36:27 CET 2002

There Was No Protest, Either

	This 26th of November the trial of a Critical Mass participant (hereafter
referred to as the Bicyclist) will take place in Trondheim, Norway.  The
trial is important as it will set many judicial precedents concerning civil
liberties and the rights of the individual in Trondheim, as well as the
rights of Critical Mass participants.
  The Bicyclist was arrested on the 21st of September in a Critical Mass
ride that was being held in connection with International Car-Free Day, in
which approximately 150-200 people took part.  According to the police
report the Bicyclist was approached by the police for participating in the
ride, which they viewed as an illegal demonstration, and asked for
identification.  Upon questioning, however, the police admitted that they
actually did not know whether the ’demonstration’ was legal or not. Hence,
they later retracted the statement that the Bicyclist was asked for
identification on the grounds of participation in an illegal demonstration,
but they have yet to fill this void with any other conceivable reason the
Bicyclist was asked to identify.  When the Bicyclist asked for the reason,
he was arrested on charges of  ’failure to identify’ and ’resisting
arrest’.  This raises two important questions:  First, is it possible now
for the police to demand identification to random persons without just
cause or reason?  Secondly, is Critical Mass legal or illegal?  Under
Norwegian law it is legal to walk or bike in the street.  
Does Critical Mass have the right to exist?  Or will riders be subject to
interrogation, beating and arrest at random?  To an extent, this case will
determine the future of Critical Mass.  The police are waiting for the
results of the case before they try other Critical Mass riders who were
arrested at later rides on the same charges, this gives the impression that
they are also waiting for a legal precedent to be set, which runs contrary
to the police lawyer’s statement to the court insisting that this is a
simple ’failure to ID’- ’resisting arrest’ trial.  This statement was used
to deny the Bicyclist legal help, in a court circuit in which 2 out of 3
judges are former police lawyers themselves.
The key function of the trial is not the narrow and bogus charges piled on
the Bicyclist, but the right to use our streets, establish Critical Mass,
and the broad implications it could have on civil liberties at a time when
their future is unclear.  The trial will be heard at Trondheim Tingrett on
Tuesday the 26th of November at 9:00am.  Letters of support can be sent to:
CriticalMass at speed-racer.com

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