Dear My Fellow Bikers,
My name is Brian Goldner. I was arrested while participating in a peaceful protest on November 24th, 2006. I am a junior at Emory University majoring in mathematics, economics and sociology and I am hoping to attend medical school upon graduating. I have a 3.8 GPA and no prior criminal history. The protest was a bicycle ride in the city of Atlanta. It was part of a larger global movement called Critical Mass:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_Mass Critical Mass in Atlanta has been occurring every month for several years, and for the past year or so the monthly attendance has been between 200-300 people. To my knowledge, this is the first time arrests have been made during Critical Mass. Although there have been recent illegal arrests of protesters in New York for participating in Critical Mass. Judges in New York ruled that the actions of the police were unjust.
I was arrested, as was Patrick Stephens, for participating in the Critical Mass Atlanta ride. As far as I know, we were the only 2 arrested out of several hundred riders. We were sent to jail, later posted bond, and will be appearing at court this Monday, November 27th for arraignment. According to the GA Driver's Manual (which can be obtained from here) we were not in violation of any traffic laws. According to the manual: "Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway must obey the same traffic laws governing the drivers of motor vehicles." Instead, we were charged with Disorderly Conduct (a more detailed description is below). We believe our rights have been violated and we are seeking counsel in this matter.
Our next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday, February 14th at 5:00PM at the Atlanta Municipal Court that is located 150 Garnett St. in the City of Atlanta. The first court appearance was reset so I could be assigned a public defender. The second was reset because my lawyer was out sick that day, and the most recent court appearance was reset so that my codefendant could be assigned a public defender.
Description of events after arrest: Patrick Stevens and Brian Goldner (me) are both being charged with crimes related to our riding in CM. The crimes with we are charged are: Disorderly Conduct 106-81(8) and Disorderly Conduct 106-81(9). These are both city (not state) ordinances. The officer noted that the accused did: "obstruct vehicular traffic and fail to clear when ordered. Also obstruct lawful occupation by trying to flee."
Description of accused crimes from city website: ARTICLE III. OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC ORDER Sec. 106-81. Disorderly conduct. It shall be unlawful for any person within the corporate limits of the city to engage in any conduct described in the following subsections; provided, however, that no person shall be convicted of any of the following sections upon a showing that the predominant intent of such conduct was to exercise a constitutional right to:
(8) Interfere, by acts of physical obstruction, another's pursuit of a lawful occupation; (9) Congregate with another or others in or on any public way so as to halt the flow of vehicular or pedestrian traffic, and to fail to clear that public way after being ordered to do so by a city police officer or other lawful authority;
We were handcuffed on Peachtree Rd. and brought down to the Buckhead police precinct where a report was filed. We were then transported downtown to jail. We were not able to leave jail until our friends posted bail for us around 3AM. A Sergeant at the jail told us that we had the options of: 1. paying $906, which would get us out of jail that night as well as remove the need of attending court (it would be an admission of guilt), or paying $1300 in bail bonds. Officers at the jail falsely told us that this $1300 would be non-refundable (this was false, in fact, we'd receive most of it back after appearing at our arraignment) and instead opted for our friends to use the services of a bonding company to get us out. Patrick and I posted bond at $184 each. We are seeking legal counsel in this matter and in particular would appreciate the services of someone who understands the charges against us and has a familiar knowledge of the GA & ATL traffic laws as well as knowledge of the disorderly conduct laws. I can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by cell: (718) 916-8929. I can also get in touch with Patrick if needed.
My full contact info: Mailing address: Brian Goldner Emory University PO BOX 121468 Atlanta, GA 30322 Telephone: (718) 916-8929
I am asking you for whatever assistance possible. I have hopes for the future that would be dashed if I were put in jail now. I would also like to see to it that other riders' civil rights would not be violated in the future. After the criminal case against me is concluded I would like to file a civil suit against the City of Atlanta, the Atlanta police, and the officer who arrested me, for impeding my civil rights.
Thank you, Brian Goldner