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A video showing a New York City police officer knocking a bicyclist to the ground has become a YouTube hit and cost the officer his badge and gun.
An anonymous bystander posted the 70-second video over the weekend. In two days, it was viewed over 260,000 times. Viewers had rated it five stars and provided 647 reviews as of Tuesday.
The video shows bicycle riders in Critical Mass pedaling through the streets of Times Square on Friday. The footage shows the incident first in real-time, then in slow motion.
The officer stood in the street as some cyclists passed by, then walked briskly toward the sidewalk as another cyclist approached. The bicyclist attempted to swerve out of the officer's way but the officer slammed against him and pushed him to the ground. The person who shot the video appears to be about 30 feet away and, although the sound of the bicycle crashing was clear, the video did not pick up any verbal exchange between the officer and the bicyclist.
Critical Mass is a group that rides through city streets monthly. Some people claim they do so in protest of or to draw attention to unfriendly bicycling policies. The rides take place in cities around the world. New York City police frequently clash with members of the group, who often videotape their rides. Police claim that some members of the group are overly aggressive by deliberately slowing traffic and harassing drivers.
In the latest incident, the officer was placed on desk duty pending the outcome of an investigation by the Manhattan district attorney. Bystanders said the officer's behavior was unprovoked, but a police report said the cyclist provoked the officer.
The cyclist, Christopher Long, of Hoboken, N.J., was handcuffed, arrested, and charged with attempted assault, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct for allegedly obstructing traffic.
He is due in court Sept. 5.
Police arrested more than 250 members of Critical Mass during the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden in 2004. Though members have asserted the arrests infringe on their rights to free speech, a federal judge ruled that local government has the right to regulate the rides.
In recent years, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has taken several steps to make the city more green and bicycle friendly, including adding bicycle lanes to several avenues and streets and announcing entire avenue closures to free up routes for bicyclists.