The YouTube NYPD Bike Incident. Who took the bike?
The controversial video showing an NYPD officer slamming a Critical Mass cyclist also appears to show someone taking the cyclist's bike.
The riveting YouTube film, in which an officer of the NYPD appears to be auditioning for the linebacker job at NYG or NYJ, is raising blood pressure readings in many parts of the community.
It appears to quite clearly tell the story of an assault by a police officer on a cyclist. But is that the only story it tells?
Unlike many movies, which give you everything in one sitting, this film seems to have a significant amount of European art house about it. There are questions left unanswered.
No one who sees it could deny that the NYPD officer appears to be the aggressor. But why? And why would the officer write a report that has been contradicted by others at the scene and so blatantly by the film?
It all reminds me very much of a movie by Michael Haneke called Cache.
You really have to see Cache twice. At least twice. Things happen that you don't see the first time around. Which is why I'm glad the cameraman posted the YouTube Critical Mass movie twice, back to back, the second time in slow motion. Because it was only on the second viewing that I saw this:
As the apparent victim's bike is left to the side, a woman (at least as far as I can tell it's a woman) sidles up, grabs it by the saddle and begins to ride off with it. Did she indeed ride off with it? Like the Bicycle Thief?
What happened to it? The movie never tells us. It stops just as she grabs it and cycles on. What the movie does tell us, as do all interesting movies, is that modern humanity has serious problems. And the more we capture these problems on film, the more we might at least begin to consider just how deep our malaise is.
(Indeed, today, the NYPD Commissioner, Ray Kelly announced that his Department will soon have technology in place for people to upload their photos and videos directly to the Police. Cynics will possibly suggest that this might avoid some of this evidence causing public controversy first.)
Let's explore the characters a little here.
Those with an anti-police, anti-establishment, anti-automobile or anti-stuffotherpeopleareproabout bent will declare the Times Square film was a mini-Rodney King. They will rail about police brutality and unprovoked assaults on the innocent. That may well prove absolutely to be the case in this instance.
Then there are people with another view. And it's not necessarily an opposite view. They see Critical Mass bike rides not as protests, but as events deliberately staged to annoy and provoke.
They can't, for example, imagine Gandhi riding his bike and whooping like a hyena that just won the World Hyena Howling Cup. Not even a Manhattan Gandhi.
Rare, anti-cyclists say, is the cyclist who stops at red lights or stop signs. Cyclists, they feel, expect you to bow to their every need. Even when they're dressed in inappropriately ill-fitting fluorescent yellow.
The cyclists these people encounter on a regular basis are some of the most self-righteous, humorless, ugly-natured, atomic-breathed beings this side of Godzilla.
Coincidentally, that is a description of the Police sometimes offered by those who aren't too fond of them.
So what the YouTube movie might mean to some is that two individuals, who represented opposing sides of a strangely similar psychological makeup, encountered their OK Corral. That's not what I feel, as the facts still seem a little strange to me. (Why did both the officers walk towards this one cyclist? Why him? Did the cyclist do anything to provoke them? And why do friends of the cyclist, Christopher Long, say he doesn't hold a grudge? Why did the officer in question claim that the cyclist rode at him? Could he really be so witless that he didn't even consider there were hundreds of witnesses? Of course he could. But why?)
And in the midst of all the furor, a woman, presumably a Critical Mass aficionado, appears to ride up, ignore the poor man who had been brutally bodychecked to the sidewalk and care only about his bike.
That's European art house film at its most peculiar. Has anyone actually talked to the man who shot the movie? Did he not see the woman take the bike? Why did he stop filming just at the moment the woman appears to ride away with the bike? And what of the woman? Why did she (and others) not get off their bikes to help their fellow Masser? Has anyone tracked her down? Did she give Mr. Long his bike back?
Sometimes movies tell one simple story. And sometimes they just do your head in.