(In addition to a great report by Jeremy Grant, Bikeside has a list of things that you can do to make certain that justice is served in this case. Including a "Storm the Bastille" ride to this week’s meeting of the Bike Advisory Committee)
Well, that didn’t take long.
Hours after I received confirmation from the LAPD that bike blogs and social media had helped catch a hit and run driver; the era of good feelings between the cyclists and the LAPD hits a major pothole as video surfaces of officers of the Hollywood Division trying to trip or kick a cyclist during Friday’s Critical Mass ride. When the videographer asks what the cyclist did to deserve that he is tackled from behind and alternately told to "stay down" and "get up." The video ends with the camera facing in the air as what I presume to be an officer looks into it before shutting it off.
Regardless of one’s feelings on Critical Mass, the video above clearly shows the cyclists taking one lane, as allowed to by law, and the LAPD acting aggressively to "police" the ride by interfering with it and attacking cyclists. Most of the mainstream media reports do their usual hatchet
job on the facts, trying to present the cyclists as somehow equally at
fault as the thugs in uniform. If there’s one thing cyclists know all to well; it’s that the LAPD won’t take action on a case that they don’t witness or have some evidence of in person.
Apparently, that standard doesn’t apply to cyclists. While a cyclist can grab the plate number of a vehicle that knocks him down and flee the scene, the LAPD won’t take action. When a group of cyclists is acting rowdy protesting a multi-national corporation that is setting world records for pollution; the LAPD attacks the cyclists. All the nice sounding P.S.A.’s and olive branches don’t mean squat when cyclists are getting attacked by cops on the street.
We’ve written before about how it would be foolish to expect the LAPD to change overnight, so the reports of violence from the LAPD and the requests that there not be a "rush to judgment" by some supporters should both be taken seriously. If the LAPD cleans house on this, takes the complaints seriously and conducts a fair investigation; then Friday’s confrontation is just that. An ugly incident.
If the Wall of Blue blocks investigation into this, or provides nothing more than non-sensical and factually incorrect responses as they did with April of 2009’s botched reporting of a hit and run crash in the Downtown (still waiting for that report to be made public…); then all the olive branches and happy P.S.A.’s in the world won’t be able to put this relationship back together again. After all, the measure of commitment isn’t how one acts when things are easy, i.e. Bike Week, but how things are handled when things can get uncomfortable.
Charlie Beck, the ball’s in your court. So far, the silence is deafening.