If you’ve followed this blog at all recently, you’re probably familiar with the disturbing video showing some of our favorite South L.A. superheroes — the East Side Riders and Los Ryderz — getting pulled over, frisked, and handed bogus tickets while on a memorial bike ride for Benjamin Torres.
Torres was killed in a hit-and-run last fall that remains unresolved.
The riders had just replaced the ghost bike at his memorial site — removed a few weeks earlier by the city — and were on their way to city hall to see if they could work out a way to create some kind of permanent memorial with the city manager when they were pulled over by the police.
When they finally did make it to city hall and had a sit-down meeting with both the city manager and police chief, they walked away feeling satisfied that they had been heard.
Until, that is, they learned that, within hours of having replaced the ghost bike (and despite pledges from city officials to work with them), it had once again been removed.
While the site still remains bike-less, thanks to the support from outraged readers and the LACBC, the tickets handed to the riders were downgraded (not dismissed, unfortunately).*** Now, the United Riders of South L.A. are asking for you to show your support for them, for victims of hit-and-runs, and for cycling in Gardena in general by joining them on this weekend’s memorial ride.
The group will meet this Saturday, August 10, at Rowley Park (13220 Van Ness Ave) at 3:30 p.m. to do a loop through Gardena and stop to pay their respects at the site where Torres was killed.
***UPDATE: as of yesterday evening, the Gardena PD dismissed all charges against the cyclists. Thanks to Eric Bruins, the LACBC and our outraged readers for their support in this case. John Jones III, ESRBC president, reported that the police chief had a binder full of letters complaining about his officers’ practice of blatant profiling and apparent lack of understanding of the law.
Please note, there is much to be done in Gardena with regard to racial bias issues and heavy-handed policing. We are still awaiting the results of the investigation into the shooting of two unarmed cyclists who were trying to help a third find his stolen bicycle. Both were shot in the back; Ricardo Diaz-Zeferino, brother of the theft victim, was shot eight times and died at the scene.
The Gardena PD have been advised of the ride this weekend and invited to join in. We hope you can join the ride as well to show your support for cycling in the area and the right to dignity and safety of all cyclists.