On Monday, ACTIVATE/SDS held a Critical Mass bike ride in solidarity with the “No War, No Warming” protests taking place in Washington DC. That morning, around 60 protestors were arrested attempting to block access to Capitol Hill in Washington DC to highlight the links between the Iraq War and global warming. Here in Grand Rapids, the Critical Mass bike ride visited a fundraiser being held in East Grand Rapids for Representative Pete Hoekstra as well as the Harvey Hummer dealership on 28th Street. Similar solidarity protests were held around the country, including in Detroit.
The Critical Mass ride began shortly after 5:30pm, following the distribution of stenciled patches reading “No War, No Warming” and a brief announcement explaining that the bike ride would be going to a fundraiser being held for consistently pro-war Congressman Pete Hoekstra. The 25-35 cyclists then assembled on Sheldon before beginning the ride to the Hoekstra fundraiser. The ride to the East Grand Rapids home of Dave and Linda Mehney was fairly uneventful with the Mass received generally favorable reactions from motorists and pedestrians. When the group entered the East Grand Rapids neighborhood of the Mehneys, energy rose considerably, with the group chanting “No War, No Warming” and telling people in SUVs to ride a bike instead. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the Mehneys have given over $90,000 to Republican candidates for federal office. This fundraiser featured a $1,000 per couple “private reception” with Hoekstra and a general $250 per person reception. Once the group arrived at the Mehneys’ home, they were greeted by signs for Pete Hoekstra’s campaign featuring a bike and the slogan “Securing America’s Future.” Some of the cyclists rode through the circle driveway, booing and chanting “No War, No Warming” and “Stop Funding the War,” while others in the group placed leaflets on the cars of attendees criticizing Hoesktra’s continued funding of the occupation of Iraq ($462 billion) and his opposition to the recent State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) legislation ($35 billion). Hoekstra’s staffers–who were chatting somewhat frantically on their cell phones–quickly came out and told the group to get off the private property. Before the inevitable visit by the police, the group departed en route to the Hummer dealership.
The ride continued south towards the Hummer dealership, cutting through Calvin College’s campus before moving onto the East Beltline. Despite the 55 mile per hour traffic, the group brought traffic on the Beltline to a crawl by taking up one southbound lane between Calvin and Woodland Mall. The group then cut through the Woodland Mall parking lot before continuing westbound on 28th street, taking up the two westbound lanes before turning into the Harvey Hummer dealership. Participants rested while a number of people in the group scaled a “mountain” in the dealership parking lot and attached a banner reading “No War, No Warming” to the grill of a Hummer parked atop the “mountain.” A confused employee came out and told the group they couldn’t be there, although at that point, the riders were already heading back out towards 28th Street. As the ride headed west on 28th, participants were able to witness the salesman scale the “mountain” while talking on his cell phone and with his eyes moving from the banner to the departing cyclists in frustration.
The ride continued on back to Eastown with no intervention from the police before concluding at the “Hub Lot” on Wealthy Street.