As I was saying, Wednesday’s march was peaceful and orderly and, as far as I could tell or have heard since, kettling and pepper spray free from start to finish. I was already boarding the bus for home when the batons came out over at Wall Street and Broadway Wednesday night. But I did see one person get into it with the cops.
He wasn’t a protester. He was a driver for a car service. This was on Church Street. I was hurrying away from Liberty Park to catch the bus for home and came upon him just as he was hopping out of his black sedan to start shouting at a bicyclist he clearly felt had done him wrong.
He was a heavyset character around thirty whose opened black suit jacket probably wouldn’t button over his broad expanse of white shirt. His black hair was neat and cut short. He was mad as all get out but he also looked scared, as if in a collision between a bike and a car the car would get the worst of it and so he’d just seen his life flash before his eyes. More likely, of course, he was terrified at having come close to running her over. Or he was thinking of how he might have had to explain the dings and dents in the car to his boss. Whatever it was, he was not happy and he was letting her know it and half of downtown Manhattan along with her.
His car was stopped at a slight angle in the middle of the street. The bicyclist was straddling her bike, facing him, her front wheel about half a foot from his right front fender. If I had to guess what’d just happened, I’d guess she was in the wrong. She’d either crossed over where she shouldn’t have and cut him off or tried to nose out to when she shouldn’t have and he’d barely missed flattening her. It was possible, though, that she’d been headed in the right direction and he’d come up behind her and she had her bike turned around in order to explain to him how it’s impolite for drivers of cars to try to run riders on bikes off the road. Whatever was the case, he didn’t want to hear her side of it.
He cursed her out royally.
Then he cursed out the first cop who’d wandered over to see what the problem was.
Then he cursed out the hipster passing by on the sidewalk who’d instantly taken the bicyclist’s side and was cursing him out.
Then he cursed out those of us who’d stopped to gawk.
Then he went back to cursing out the cop.
Then he cursed out the other officers who came over to ask the first cop what the problem is.
You might think it’s a bad idea to lose your temper with a police officer when you’re in a part of town where there are at least a dozen other officers in sight the first can call on for backup.
But at least with citizens who aren’t carrying protest signs New York City cops are remarkably patient and understanding.
So if you’re wondering how many cops you can tell to go fuck themselves and fuck off and shut the fuck up and let you talk without getting arrested, the answer is apparently five.
Assuming you aren’t carrying a protest sign.