(video by manueldogg)
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Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood
Friday May 28, 2010 Los Angeles Critical Mass took to the crowded streets with hundreds of riders demonstrating their right and freedom to ride. After a full calendar of Bike Week events, endorsements, and excitement the close to Bike Month ended with the harsh reality that cyclists must persist with the fight for equal protection on the streets. You would think after a public service announcement by Chief Beck, progress with operations notices supporting cyclists and a new cyclist’s rights education module the LAPD would take a moment before going back to their old ways of harassing cyclists.
You would think, right?
As Critical Mass was making it’s way east along Hollywood Blvd. (near Highland Ave.) to end the ride they were met with a contingent of LAPD Officers armed with batons kicking and tackling cyclists off their bikes. Officers drove squad cars into the crowd of riders. Some cyclists were even stopped in their tracks and flung from their bike with a baton stuck in the spokes (a la Breaking Away). These cyclists were then brutalized, handcuffed and then cited for small infractions such as no lights or not obeying traffic laws. From the video above you can see that cyclists were taking the lane legally, riding slowly; it seems as if they were simply targeted for being last to ride up on the scene of a poorly defined ‘incident’. At no point was the mass of riders identified as an illegal assembly or addressed with a formal dispersal order. In fact: officers employed the use of force to effect dispersal (which is against LAPD policy and illegal). The events are chronicled on the internet as many riders use Twitter:
While all this was going on a cyclist decided to stop and take a video of the events as they unfolded. He was then tackled by a few police officers, given conflicting orders to comply and then detained: all while officers smirked at their own dirty deeds. The attack aimed to stifle our basic rights to a free press which can provide oversight over the brutality expressed by the Los Angeles Police Department. It was a dark night in LA Critical Mass history. It was a direct assault that demonstrates that the LAPD will take violent measures to operate free and clear of the constraints of public scrutiny. Furthermore, the events captured on this video are violation of the First Amendment, the Fourth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment, the California Constitution, and California state law.
It doesn’t just stop there…
There was great difficulty in contacting the Hollywood Precinct to report a crime had occurred. Stephen Box called and spoke to the Watch Commander who would not take a telephonic report or complaint, would not initiate an investigation over the phone and then hung up on him four times. One does not have to be a victim or a witness to report a crime or something suspicious is going on. The LAPD has a defined responsibility to take a telephonic report — most especially when it involves a crime committed by some of their own officers. LAPD depends heavily on citizen assistance in reporting crimes and provides a diverse list of phone numbers on their website to contact. Plainly stated: you do not need to report a crime in person. This is yet another criminal method LAPD is using to operate without the public’s oversight.
1. EMAIL: If you are a witness or a victim of the police brutality that went down on the night of Friday, May 28, 2010 at LACM you should contact Alex Thompson, President of Bikeside LA via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or anyone else you may know from BikesideLA.org
2. WEB: If you are a witness or a victim please submit a confidential incident report to LABikeMap.Com. You can file the report as a ‘harassment’ or ‘collision’.
3. IN PERSON: If you are a witness, a victim, or just generally concerned with LAPD’s infringement on cyclist’s rights please attend and give public comment at the LA City Council’s Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting taking place this Tuesday, June 1, 2010, 7pm at Hollywood Neighborhood City Hall, 6501 Fountain Ave., Los Angeles, CA
Bikeside LA will be at the Bicycle Advisory Committee presenting the Backbone Bikeway Network which just so happens to include this section of Hollywood Blvd where the police brutality took place. The Backbone is committed to connecting the community and it’s services to provide for and protect cyclist rights to the road. Education, as a component of the Backbone, is tasked to enhance the LAPD’s knowledge base and interaction with cyclists across the many communities within the City of Los Angeles. If you show up to support the many cyclists that were viciously attacked please also offer your support for the Backbone Bikeway Network as a method of improving our relationship with the Los Angeles Police Department.
After all, we want to be known as the CITY WITH A BACKBONE — not broken backbones!