Even a cursory viewing of the ongoing protests across America has shown a clear and present new addition to urban crowd control – the once lowly bicycle. Where bikes were once a pleasing symbol of community policing and trail safety, they are now being fortified and employed across the United States as a new form of mobile barricade, as a potential weapon, as well as for quick redeployment of uniformed officers. Unlike typically cumbersome police barricades, the nimble bicycle is now being used to enforce curfews, block protests (peaceful or otherwise), catch/arrest people (innocent or guilty), and in the worst cases be used as weapons to attack crowds and assault people (innocent or otherwise).
“The supposedly ‘humble’ bicycle—usually a symbol of non-motorized meekness—is being used by America’s over-militarized law enforcement as a mix between a riot shield and a baton.”
“They’re more mobile, they can more easily create physical barriers – and the bikes can be used as weapons.”
Image from Minneapolis – Source: qnewshub.com
These beefed-up bicycles and their accompanying gear are not just your run-of-the-mill commuting or mountain equipment, but instead they are the equivalent to an assault vehicle on two wheels (see photos throughout). They are military, tactical, and evil all rolled into one nasty package of authoritarianism.
As The Guardian so aptly alludes – bikes have become the new mount for the Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
“The fact that bikes seem innocuous is a way of masking a weaponised potential,” says Williams. “Cops on bikes are less alarming than cops on horses, or in an armoured personnel carrier – until you’ve been penned in by a dozen cops on each side using the bikes as barriers.”
Source: volcanic bikes.com
Sadly, gone are the days where the innocent bicycle was pictured as the epitome of joy in a young child; a commuting or recreation tool; or just the subject of an artist. As an assault vehicle, the bicycle has become a new object of both fear and loathing – and not just by annoyed motorists.