They came armed and on bicycles, planning a “Mad Max”-style attack.
Their target was PedalPubs in downtown Minneapolis. Their weapons of choice were squirt guns and water balloons.
What they didn’t know was that there were off-duty cops among the passengers.
Two of the people-powered, 16-seat vehicles were hit Saturday in the late afternoon in the Warehouse District, said Lisa Stanplin, manager of Twin Cities PedalPubs.
In the first attack, the cyclists rode to the front of the PedalPub and squirted the driver in the face.
In the second, cyclists approached on both sides, squirted passengers with water pistols and hit one woman in the back of the head with a water balloon.
A potential third attack at 4th Street and 1st Avenue N. was thwarted when PedalPub passengers spotted the cyclists’ approach, jumped off and turned the tables on the cyclists.
A video posted on YouTube of the aftermath of the third incident shows abandoned bikes littering the street and what appear to be several cyclists being pinned down on the pavement. One cyclist can be heard yelling, “I don’t even have a water bottle!” A woman can be heard telling the cyclists that it was “a PedalPub full of cops.”
Indeed, Burnsville Police Chief Eric Gieseke confirmed Sunday that six of his off-duty officers were on board.
Minneapolis police arrested six people, who were booked into the Hennepin County jail and released Saturday night after each posting $78 bail. The jail log lists fifth-degree assault and disorderly conduct — misdemeanors — as probable-cause charges. All have their first court appearances set for June 4.
In the Twin Cities and elsewhere, “I Hate the Pedal Pub” sentiment has surfaced on social media, with complaints about noise, traffic blocking and public drunkenness. A local Facebook page opposing the PedalPubs has 3,813 “likes.”
PedalPub and police had advance intel on the attacks. A posting on the Twin Cities Facebook page of “I Hate the Pedal Pub,” said bikers were going to gather at 1 p.m. Saturday at Loring Park “and they were going to pull a ‘Mad Max’ on the PedalPub with water balloons and squirt guns,” Stanplin said.
Employees and authorities were notified and a squad was on alert at the park, but nobody showed up, Stanplin said.
“Nothing happened until just before 6:30 p.m.,” Stanplin said. She got two calls from PedalPub drivers in downtown Minneapolis “in rapid succession.” The first driver said she’d been squirted in the face; the second driver, a few blocks away, said she and the passengers had been attacked.
Stanplin said each PedalPub was at or near capacity, with 13 to 16 people on board. Immediately after the first incident, the nefarious Facebook posts disappeared.
On Sunday, the “I Hate PedalPubs” page had a posting that said, “I have received a few messages that some people have pursued pedal pubs today with squirt guns and water balloons. Wrong idea guys. Although getting wet is mostly harmless, it is still considered assault.”
While the PedalPub attacks were mostly harmless, Stanplin said it’s a serious matter.
“It’s a safety issue,” she said. “They created an unsafe, potentially dangerous situation.”
“Our pilots have all been trained to deal with incidents like this,” Stanplin said. “All know 911 is the first recourse if they’re dealing with people harassing them in any way, shape or form.”
The PedalPub pilots also are armed with cameras, phones and screech alarms, she said.
Stanplin said the company isn’t going to let the incident affect the way they do business, but does plan to follow through on charges against the alleged perpetrators. Twin Cities PedalPubs have 11 vehicles, five that operate in downtown Minneapolis, one in the Uptown area, three in northeast Minneapolis and two in St. Paul.