Critical Mass Miami has blown up over the past year. The last-Friday-of-the-month rides now regularly draw more than 2,000 cyclists at a time. Even celebs such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Gabrielle Union have participated.
But there are signs that the movement is experiencing some growing pains, not least of all tension with cops. During last Friday night's ride, Miami Police officers were booed and pelted with objects after arresting local chef Aleric "AJ" Constantin for selling ice cream out of a cart on his bicycle.
"I basically spent a day and a half in jail for selling ice cream," Constantin says. "Pretty much from the get-go, the officers seemed really focused on breaking up the whole mass."
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Constantin, a line cook at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, first took his specially outfitted food bike to Critical Mass in April. He's quickly made a name for himself by handing out free samples of his outrageous flavors, such as orange mango saffron ice cream with mint-infused whipped cream. After all, everyone likes ice cream. Right?
At the end of Friday's two-hour, 20-mile bike ride, Constantin and friend Hunter Hoover were eating tater-tots in front of the Filling Station on SE Second Street at First Avenue in downtown. Two young Miami Police officers were walking through the throngs of cyclists and warning them not to block traffic. ("They were pretty vocal about despising the event," Constantin says.)
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Around 10 p.m., one of the officers approached Constantin just as he was selling some ice cream to a fellow cyclist. The cop asked the chef if he had a license to sell his dessert. Constantin handed over his driver's license and said that all of his paperwork was in order. Moreover, he had permission from the Filling Station to be there.
But that wasn't good enough for the officer. He demanded that Constantin leave, Hoover says. When Constantin asked for his ID back, the cop told him he could have it as soon he was packed and ready to go.
"I'm not even driving a car," Constantin said. "Why do you need my ID?"
"Oh, you want to get arrested?" the cop replied, according to Hoover.
(Riptide has requested a copy of the police report, but it was not available Monday. We will update this post as soon as we obtain the report. A Miami Police spokesman declined to comment.)