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#Philly: Reportback from End of the Year Critical Mass Ride on December 14

Reportback by anarchists from Philadelphia about a critical mass ride on December 14.

Originally published by Philly Anticapitalist.

Note: Enough is Enough is not organizing any of these events, we are publishing this text for people across the US and Europe to be able to see what is going on and for documentation only.

I want to go over how the ride went and open a dialogue on the possibilities of bike demonstrations. Even though the demonstration was publicly called for, the location was not immediately posted online, police did not come to the starting location. 

The starting time of ride at 5PM was an excellent choice because the bikes could easily move through rush hour traffic and avoided a police tail for the entire ride. Police arrived at the end when people were gathered in the street blocking traffic for around 45 minutes. Some of the riders carried black and red flags, flares, or music. The colorful, loud, crowd drew attention in a way that wasn’t seen as threatening by most people on the street, which allowed for paint and flare throwing to take place in a setting without a hostile crowd. The ride went through multiple neighborhoods, disrupting traffic without sacrificing mobility. Chants against capital, and in memory of Pablo, an anarchist killed by a car while making food deliveries were shouted during the ride. During the ride I attempted to thrown paint balls at two symbols of capital. One against a Bank of America failed, the other was against a new luxury housing building. The former failed because I tried to thrown the paint ball from a moving bicycle, while the latter succeeded, that time I stopped and then threw. Throwing accurately from a moving bicycle is a lot harder than stopping for a moment and throwing. I don’t want to make the ride seem more confrontational than it was, most people in attendance were focused on making noise, slowing traffic, and bringing the memory of people killed by cars to the street.

Demonstrations on bikes seem underused among Philly anarchists and have potential for festive and offensive uses. An advantage of the bicycle demonstration is speed, it’s likely that police will not catch up with a demonstration moving through congested traffic faster than a car can. This can allow for offensive actions to be carried out across a large area without as much risk as a demonstration that marches. Using bikes brings up questions that aren’t addressing when marching on foot. The practice of anonymity is complicated when bicycles enter the picture, not everyone has extra anonymous bikes ready to use and potentially abandon. How can a bike be made nondescript?

Carrying the memory of the dead as a weapon
Furthering anarchist dialogue and action


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