Cyclists Pedal to Police Commission and Inspector General to Demand Equal Rights

4_28_09_andres.jpgAndres Tena, the cyclist hospitalized after being run down from behind by a hummer last week, testifies at the LA Police Commission Hearing as Chicken Leather films.

For as long as I’ve been in Los Angeles, there has been a side bar on the Midnight Ridazz official website which reads:


The Midnight Ridazz would like to extend a
sincere thanks to the LAPD and especially to the officer (whose name we
did not get) who recently helped to escort our ride through the streets
of Los Angeles. We are all part of the neighborhoods we ride and we
support the LAPD!

However, over at least the last year, the relationship has been souring.  Anecdotally, cyclists have complained about unequel treatment or a presumption of guilt from officers when there is a conflict.  While cyclists have had success in getting tickets revoked either by LAPD management or judges; these victories are akin to treating the symptoms of an illness but not the virus itself.  This morning, a group of cyclists headed down to the Parker Center to finally address the virus but testifying on our shared experiences to the board charged with providing oversite to the LAPD.

The infection of unequal treatment is best illustrated by the sarcastic callousness of Officer Cho last week after a hummer ran down a group of cyclists from beyond hospitalizing one, ran through the group again while they tried to get the driver’s information, and threatened the cyclists with gang violence.  Cho was the commanding officer of the "investigation" which allowed the hummer driver to head off without a ticket while Cho lectured the cyclists on how he "knows how you people bike" and threatening them with a little violence of his own.

The first rider to testify was Andres Tena, the hospitalized victim from last week’s attack-by-hummer driver.  Tena was visibly emotional during his testimony where he outlined his experience from last Friday morning.  He concluded by stating that even though he’s a life-long cyclist, he’s been scared on his bike since the attack.  While Tena wasn’t the most polished speaker of the day, longtime activist Stephen Box, LACBC Staffer Aurisha Smolarski or cyclist/lawyer Daniel Jimenez hold that honor, his powerful, personal testimony provided the heart that drove the rest of the testimony.

Other witnesses to last week’s attacks included John Dorsey who tried
to report the threat of gun violence to Cho and Matthew Simmons who
tried to block the SUV after his attack on Tena and was run off the
road.  Simmons noted that because the attack was deemed an "accident"
in the official police report means that the cyclists will get no help
recouping the bicycles that were destroyed, even the one that was
dragged underneath the hummer for several blocks.

Jimenez described how the attack of last Thursday and the ambivalence of the responding officers when he stated that, "Cyclists deserve to expect reasonable behavior when police come in contact with one cyclist or a group of cyclists…that is not happening right now.  That is unacceptable."

Also testifying was ride leader "Roadblock" discussed how recently, police actions against group rides such as Critical Mass or other rides promoted by the Midnight Ridazz have been unfair and perhaps illegal.  When reports come in that "cyclists are running red lights" the police respond by ticketing random cyclists claiming they saw them ran a red light, sometimes five to ten minutes after the light was "run."  Also, attempts to pull cyclists over have included police cars driving in to groups of cyclists endangering all of them.

By rule, the Commission is unable to respond to comments as the City Council or Metro Board is able to.  However, at the end of testimony, Commission President Anthony Pacheo thanked the cyclist for attending and urged them to contact the office of Inspector General Andre Girotte Jr.

And that’s exactly what the cyclists did.  A group of twenty cyclists mounted at LAPD headquarters and headed across town to the Inspector General’s office.  Girotte was still at the Parker Center to help the Commission during its closed session  However, Girotte spoke to several of the cyclists present and talked in some length to Box about the last time that cyclists spoke at the Police Commission about the bike license ticketing at the last CRANK MOB.

When they arrived, the cyclists broke into two groups.  The witnesses and victims from last week’s hummer attack and a group making more general complaints about "group by association" ticketing and the lack of an official code for the LAPD to stop cyclists and police group rides.  The Inspector General’s office will look investigate last week’s attack and police policies and write official reports and make recommendations to the LAPD.


Newest Group of Ridazz: The LAPD

For a full size version of the flyer, click here. Traditionally, small groups of bike riders from around the city gather together on the fourth Friday of the month and head to the Wilshire/Western Red Line Station to gather for Los Angeles Critical Mass.  This month, following what Streetsblog is calling the "Critical Mass Attack," […]

Breaking News: LAPD Recommends Discontinuing Bike License Program

In a report to the City Council, Chief William Bratton of the LAPD recommends to the City Council the discontinuation of the wildly unpopular bicycle licensing programming and announces that the LAPD will no longer enforce bicycle licensing unless the Los Angeles City Council. That the Council would push for the implementation of this program […]

Cyclists, LAPD Working on “Bicycle Awareness Campaign”

Everyone who had a problem with the "Caution! Pass With Care" posters because they were "illegal" can rest assured that the next awareness campaign aimed at motorists, but designed by cyclists will be perfectly legal.  Of course, that the LAPD, along with the LACBC and "Midnight Ridazz," is sponsoring a contest to create the poster […]

Ridazz Get Registered

Cyclists Gather for a Group Ride in Front of Josef’s Flying Pigeon Bike Shop Bike licensing has become a hot issue in Los Angeles the past two weeks.  For those of you that haven’t been following the story, some LAPD stations have decided to start enforcing an obscure law mandating that bicycles be licensed and […]

Critical Mass: A Calm Ride Through the Streets of L.A.

Critical Mass avoided controversy on Friday night, rolling to the Westside to UCLA Medical Center (where the last hospitalized victim from the Culver City Crash a couple of weeks ago is still recovering) to the traditional stop at Western and Sunset.  Tickets were kept to a minimum, I could count on one hand the number […]