Conflicts Involving Critical Mass - Porto Alegre, Brazil

Porto Alegre, Brazil

On February 25, 2011, a car driver deliberately collided with around 20 cyclists that were participating in a Critical Mass event, in Rua José do Patrocinio in Porto Alegre, southern Brazil. 150 people were taking part in the event, dozens of bicycles were damaged, 15 people were injured and 8 were transported to the emergency room. The driver left the scene of the incident while demonstrators remained on the street demanding that the driver be found and arrested. The driver was later identified as 47-years old Ricardo José Neis. After Neis gave his testimony to the police, his attorney, Luis Fernando Coimbra Albino, stated that the driver was acting in self-defense after several cyclists threatened him and his son and assaulted his car. According to witnesses present at the event, Neis was acting violently behind the bikes, had hit two different cyclists rear wheels and any contact from the cyclist on the car was meant as a sign asking to slow down the vehicle. Witnesses also reported that the driver had two different transversal roads he could have taken to avoid waiting for the cyclists to proceed. On March 1 Ricardo Neis attempted to transfer from a Hospital to a psychiatric clinic, this request was rejected by court officials. He was held in the hospital under police custody, but was later released and indicted under 17 counts of attempted murder. 23-years old Ricardo Mattes Ambus, one of the most severely injured cyclists was re-admitted back in Hospital on March 3 due to an intracranial haematoma.

During the following week, between February 28 and March 6, many protests in support of Critical Mass Porto Alegre were organized in several major cities of South America and around the world.

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