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TIMES'S UP! is being sued by the City of New York

TIME'S UP! is facing $30,000 worth of legal fees-and needs your help now! See below for complete information on the lawsuit.

Dear Friend,

As you may have heard, four TIMES'S UP! volunteers-and TIMES'S UP! itself-are being sued by the City of New York. Why are the City of New York and the New York City Parks Department suing a group of Environmentalists?  For riding bikes, talking about riding bikes to the press, and encouraging other people to use this sustainable, environmentally-sound form of transportation.

If you care about your right to free speech and free assembly, you should be incredibly concerned.  The suit against us has major ramifications on First Amendment activity nationwide. That's why it's so important that we win-and to win, we need your help. TIMES'S UP! is currently facing $30,000 in legal fees. Please visit TIME'S UP! today and make a donation to the TIMES'S UP! Bike Legal Defense Fund.

Many of you may have ridden in the Critical Mass bike ride, or at least heard of it. Started in San Francisco in 1992, Critical Mass rides take place monthly in almost 400 cities on six continents. New York's Critical Mass is now under attack--and the four of us and TIMES'S UP! are being singled out in that attack.

In New York, August 27, 2004, was the date of a massive police crackdown on this peaceful community event. Two days before the start of the Republic National Convention (RNC), some 5,000 cyclists gathered together to ride their bikes through the city. By the end of the night, 264 were cuffed and sent to jail-for riding bikes. They've been charged with disorderly conduct and parading without a permit, the criminal equivalent of a speeding ticket. (To date, more than 80% of those charges have been dismissed or thrown out for lack of evidence.)

So what does this have to do with us?  As Critical Mass participants, we-and many, many others-spoke out against the police's egregious behavior. We spoke to the press. We've been quoted in the New York Times, the BBC World News, USA Today, as well as many smaller community papers, and we've been regularly featured on network news and radio.  Because we spoke out, we have been targeted. Our names and titles as listed in the lawsuit come directly from descriptions of us in the papers.

Despite police threats, we keep riding every single month. And the police keep arresting. At every Critical Mass since the RNC-except for December-the police have arrested bike riders. In March alone, 37 people were arrested simply for riding bikes in a group.

But cuffing cyclists wasn't enough.  In September and in March, the NYPD illegally seized dozens of bikes.  Many of these were chained to public property (such as parking signs and light poles) near where the arrests were taking place.  The police used their most sophisticated machinery and highly trained Emergency Service Unit forces to cut bike locks!  The owners of the bikes--many of whom were not even Critical Mass participants--were charged with no crime. They simply had their bikes stolen by the cops. They knew they were in the right, and five cyclists sued the police in Federal Court. Their victory on December 23, 2004, was a victory for everyone who cares about Critical Mass and our right to due process.

After this clear win, we assumed the harassment would end. But in March, the City of New York, the NYPD, and the Parks Department took the next step. Now they're suing us. They have requested an injunction, which, if granted, would make it illegal for us to talk about or participate in the Critical Mass bike ride. In fact, it would also make it illegal for YOU to talk about or participate in Critical Mass.

This suit is an obvious limitation of our first amendment rights. We've amassed an incredible legal team, including renowned civil rights attorney Norman Siegel, to defend us and prove that we're right and that this time the city has gone too far. But our defense costs money. Although our attorneys will defend us pro bono, we must raise a significant amount of money to pay for legal expenses.  The bottom line: we have until May 5 to raise $30,000. Here's where you come in.

If you've ever ridden in Critical Mass--or even ridden a bike--if you care about the environment, if you care about citizens' right to use public space, or if you believe in protecting free speech, then please make a donation to our legal fund today. You can visit TIME'S UP! to make a donation and read a copy of the lawsuit. Or write a check to the "TIMES'S UP! Bike Legal Defense Fund" and send it to P.O. Box 2030, New York, NY 10009. All donations are 100% tax-deductible.

We thank you for your time and your generosity, and we encourage you to get involved. Stay tuned to www.times-up.org for the latest information on our case. Please do not hesitate to contact Leah or Matthew for more information.

Sincerely,