Who Watches the Watchmen?: LAPD Still Ticketing for No Bike License

3_23_09_thompson.jpgImage via Alex Thompson at WestSide BikeSIDE!

This Saturday, Crank Mob, possibly the largest of Los Angeles' group bike rides, had a more than interesting evening even by Crank Mob standards.  The Mob experienced a constant police presence including a road block and the detainment of several cyclists at the Ralph's at 3rd and La Brea.

After the police were summoned, perhaps because of a shoplifting incident which saw riders catch and turn in the alleged thief; there are many many reports that the police started harassing random cyclists in an attempt to control the mob.  Apparently, they didn't succeed as later in the evening the Hollywood District of the LAPD referred to them as a "herd of wild buffalo."

A big part of the LAPD's control strategy was similar to those seen across the country.  Grab a small group of cyclists and write up bogus citations.  Unable to effectively arrest those that were breaking the law, after all the Hollywood District didn't issue citations to the "herd of wild buffalo," the LAPD goes for a "guilt by association" strategy that leads to handcuffing and searching a pedestrian for crossing against a flashing red hand and more distressingly ticketing for a violation of LAMC 26.01 b "NO (sic) licence (sic) on Bike (sic)."  Handcuffing someone for not having a bike license?  For crossing the street against a flashing red hand?  What country am I living in?

What's really weird is I would have sworn that I read a report by LAPD Police Chief William Bratton that called for the ending of the program.  Even worse, I then remember the City Council approving Bratton's plan and suspending the city's program.  It's a good thing I write these things down, or I would assume I were going crazy.  Is the City Council just an advisory group these days?

No matter one's feelings on group rides, one should be able to agree that everyone deserves equal protection under the law.  On Saturday night, the LAPD didn't just thumb its nose at the LAPD Police Chief, and the City Council...they also took the opportunity to thumb their nose at the Constitution.