Between 2004 and 2008, at the height of America’s war on terror, the NYPD spied on, infiltrated and tracked members of the pro-cycling advocacy groups Critical Mass and Time’s Up. Both groups are known for their playful and seemingly impromptu mass rides through busy parts of urban areas in order to promote alternative modes of transportation. The NYPD took an interest in the cyclists in the run up to the Republican National Convention in 2004. A few weeks before the convention, police officers arrested about 300 people participating in a mass ride and confiscated hundreds of bikes, declaring them “abandoned property.” They devoted significant resources — scooters, vans, unmarked cars and even helicopters — to disrupting these gatherings as well as attending group meetings and profiling activists.

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