Hollywood LAPD Misses the Memo; Caught on Tape Brutalizing Cyclists

(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.

  • Man, I cannot imagine the response the LAPD is going to have on Tuesday night at 5 p.m. at the Vermont entrance to the 101! All those car drivers causing such a massive back-up of traffic, surely one or two will be pulled from their vehicles, beaten, and arrested. Their pro-car protests must be stopped!

  • Chris Loos

    It might be obvious to Streetsblog readers that the cop was in the wrong, but head over to Curbed and its an entirely different picture. Seems the biker “had it coming.” The anti-bike sentiment runs deep in LA.

  • The great thing about the anti-bike crowd is that they don’t show up in City Hall the next day. Intertnet tough guys do not an oppossition make.

  • Hap

    We are constantly told that we must “reduce our dependency on oil”, an most pointedly “foreign oil”. The problem is, our national policy for the last 60 years has been to increase our dependence on it! Government subsidizing the highway system and automobile use, condoning and encouraging single family home in suburbs, larger homes, bugger cars, and a consumer based economy with the automobile as the keystone has brought us to where we are today.

    Think of one car and then on how many people rely on it for an income- highways, insurance, parts, repair, cleaning, selling, towing, re selling, disposing ( recycling?). For the past 60 years our public policies have reduced the size and scope of the public transportation system, and the right of ways that we initially had, removing light rail, rail, streetcars, etc. and in so doing have “forced” us into cars.

    Where is the real Leadership?

    Protesting at on gas station does little good. What we can do is act locally. Write your representatives and demand that they direct government to change policy and throw weight behind public transportation and away from individual autos. The jobs now associated with cars could be transfered to public transportation. The stick would be gas taxes and car taxes, but the benefit would be the average $8000 per year each adult with a car spends on transportation.

    Use public transportation, and of course ride a bike!

  • Steve Faust

    The video shows that the cyclist taken down by the cop’s kick was the last cyclist of the ride. The NYPD does the same thing, pick off the last riders along the Critical Mass rides. It’s like a wolf pack jumping on the back of the herd.

    The strange thing I have seen is that it was cyclists who obeyed the traffic lights that got picked off, they fell behind the mass into the motor scooter cops shadowing the back of the ride. What was weird was that for many blocks you are riding along side and among the scooters and they are helping you through intersections, then suddenly one of the cops zooms over and cuts you off to issue a ticket. It’s like the cops don’t want to tangle with the middle of the ride (or herd), but pick the weak off the back.

    If the take-downs are to prove a point, I’m not sure what the point is.

  • “Flea” the scene? Olive “branch’s”? Semicolons joining dependent clauses to one another, most especially noted in “if…then” statements? Proofread before posting from your Blackberry, please. I hold Streetsblog writers to (very deservedly earned) high standards. ;)

    All grammar/spelling aside, these cops come across as the real Nazis. This was a terrible display of excessive force and unnecessary agitation. Best of luck on LA’s streets to the cyclists.

  • ichabod

    “Flea” the scene? Olive “branch’s”? Semicolons joining dependent clauses to one another, most especially noted in “if…then” statements? Proofread before posting from your Blackberry, please. I hold Streetsblog writers to (very deservedly earned) high standards. ;)

    To be fair, he was supposed to be on vacation this week.

  • Erik G.

    Excuse me, but why was the videographer tackled and (apparently) arrested?

  • K. Hollman

    On Friday June 4,2010 I paused while turning right from 7th to Main in downtown Los Angeles to wait for a pedestrian crossing the intersection, in the cross walk lines. An angry LAPD motorcycle cop behind me yelled at me to “GET GOING”. I chose to ignore the cop yelling at me in favor of not running over the pedestrian. Apparently LAPD doesn’t support pedestrians either.