182 Cyclists Arrested for Maybe Protesting the Olympics


British police clashed with hundreds of cyclists for allegedly riding too close to the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday, reports The Guardian. Police, who used pepper spray on the crowd and arrested 182 of the cyclists, claimed that the cyclists’ presence might have disrupted the Olympics, while many of the cyclists insist they had no such intentions.

After having their bicycles confiscated, the cyclists, including a 13-year-old, were handcuffed en masse and kept in concrete rooms without windows overnight due to a lack of adequate prison space. It is believed to be the United Kingdom’s largest mass detention in the past year.

Only three of the 182 cyclists were charged with a crime. The other 179 were bailed out under the stipulation that they not return within 100 meters of an Olympic venue or ride on a bicycle in a borough that is hosting the Olympic games.

Most of the cyclists were part of a Critical Mass bike ride that has passed through the same area on the last Friday of each month for the past 18 years. 300 cities celebrate a similar tradition each month with hundreds of cyclists assembling to join in their love of bicycling.

Despite Critical Mass’s regular presence in London, the police seemed to think this particular ride had an Olympics-focused political agenda. “They’ve really made it into some kind of anti-capitalist, horrible thing,” said an arrested cyclist who wished to remain anonymous. “I couldn’t care less about the Olympics.”

A 32-year-old electrician who also asked not to be identified said he was not even part of the Critical Mass assemblage. “I literally got on my bike, rode around Stratford, and just started riding up the road on my way to my friend’s house,” he said. “I was then arrested.”

Police officials say they were aware that Critical Mass passes through the area on a monthly basis and made attempts to discuss the route prior to the incident. They cited Section 12 of the Public Order Act, which permits police to “impose conditions on public processions” in order to “prevent serious public disorder, serious criminal damage, or serious disruption to the life of the community.”

It is not the first time British police have taken on Critical Mass. In 2008, the police tried to outlaw the event unless they were provided with advanced notice of the date, time, route, and names of the organizers. However, the House of Lords ruled that since the assemblage is a “customary procession” that has no official organizers and is not unruly, the ride could continue without police sanctions.

“People have a right to protest and it is an incredibly important part of our democracy,” said an official police statement. (But? There’s always a but.) “What people do not have the right to do is to hold a protest that stops other people from exercising their own rights to go about their business – that means athletes who have trained for years for their chance in a lifetime to compete, millions of ticketholders from seeing the world’s greatest sporting event, and everyone else in London who wants to get around.”

In other words, people are free to protest unless it is an inconvenient time like the Olympics, in which case people will be arrested en masse for giving the slightest appearance of protesting… even if protesting was not actually occurring.

“I can honestly say I had absolutely zero intention of disrupting the Olympics,” said an arrested cyclist named Henry. “I really don’t think anyone did. It was about enjoying cycling, not hating the Olympics.”

For what it’s worth, British police forces do not appear to oppose all cyclists. Both the men and women’s road races took place over the weekend, and none of the participating Olympians were arrested for potentially disrupting the Games.

Related Stories:

4 Reasons to Avoid the London Olympics

Olympic Toys Manufactured in Sweatshop Conditions

Human Rights Campaigners to Stage Olympic Protest

Photo Credit: burge5k


Kimberlee W.
Kimberlee W5 years ago

Vivianne - You are NOT being paranoid. I've read in one day, stories of police omnipotence and overreach from Russia, Israel, Canada, and now Poland. It's really getting out of hand.

I personally believe that they're doing it more and more to get us, the public, accustomed to mass arrests which they may be planning for the future.

Just because you're paranoid DOES NOT MEAN THAT PEOPLE ARE NOT OUT TO GET YOU. That used to be a joke on a T-shirt. Now I'm beginning to wonder.

Shan D.
Shan D5 years ago

@Sian R.: Maybe you should consider keeping your children off the street, if you're worried that a bicycle rider might knock them down... Kids belong on the sidewalk or in the yard, not on the street.

Alicia N.
Alicia N5 years ago

sigh .........!

John C.
John C.5 years ago

well thats typical EU police for you! Not much has changed since 1942 europe. Arrest and detain.

Sian Rider
Sian R5 years ago

'Critical Mass' - so that's who they are. I'm glad to know what this large and unruly group of cyclists calls themselves, because they cycle past my house in a quiet, backwater, every month and I'm always worried that some child is going to get knocked down by one of them.
I do have to wonder, given their path down our street, what they're trying to 'reclaim' though.
A long-term cyclist myself, I wouldn't dream of joining them.

Vivianne Mosca-Clark

Paranoid actions is what I see in this.
If there was a problem with the regular cyclists going on their regular route then a conference could have been done. It was said there was attempts to talk to the cyclists. If it had succeeded, there might not have been an issue. Since the police did not succeed...it is on them for the issue to come up.
In a lot of countries on our planet we seem to be seeing a rude control issue from the current governments, coming up every where. No matter what form it is set up in.
I do not like what I am seeing.
At the risk of sounding paranoid....most governments seem to be suppressing their citizens, and the understanding there could be a one world government, leads me to think that it would not be a kind government.
The ultra rich would be in control of us all. As they have been gaining control of the economy, education, energy, food, water and laws of the lands.
Please vote and don't be afraid of the 'laws' that are unjust.

kevaquarian E.
kevaquarian E5 years ago

@ Berny: Can you please expand on, "especially that when people demonstrate they organise several people to make the police react badly so that they can take photos etc.....I know I have seen it organised!"?


Berny p.
Berny p5 years ago

To be a police officer now days you need a lot of patience and courage ...especially as the media will automaticly make you...the bad one...no matter what....

It is very sad to see so many people enjoying to rubbish the British police force.

After living in many..many countries,including the USA and china I can only salute the British bobby...especially that when people demonstrate they organise several people to make the police react badly so that they can take photos etc.....I know I have seen it organised!

US police are mini hitler's....and surprising...the Chinese police can actually be very nice and helpful to many....

But then this would not do for people who will do anything against police......where ever they are!

Patricia Garcia Ces
Patricia Ces5 years ago

Very sad...

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

Police run amok.