“While riding a bike for transportation is a tribute to many of the basic ideas upon which this country was founded - common sense, self-reliance, and closeness with the land, to name a few - it is also, in many ways, a slap in the face to contemporary American culture.” Robert Hurst in “The Art of Urban Cycling"
A large group of cyclists rode down Sunset Boulevard. If they had been driving automobiles, we would call it traffic, congestion, rush hour, our quotidian dose of gridlock, LA's legacy or any of a number of names. But they're on bikes and the ride is called the LA Critical Mass. It's a regular bike ride consisting of cyclists who ride for all sorts of reasons, coming from all directions and riding as a group through the streets of Los Angeles, all in a celebration of the fact that "We are Traffic!"
The LAPD responded to the sudden presence of so many cyclists by sending 12 Officers in 6 squad cars. They picked out the most threatening and dangerous cyclist in the crowd and immediately went to work making the streets of Los Angeles safer for motorists.
"CD" indicates that the approaching officers greeted her by screaming at her "Do you have any warrants out for your arrest? Are you on probations? Do you have any drugs or weapons on you?" They ordered her to put her possessions on the ground, to put her hands on her head, then turned her around, grabbed her wrists and put her in handcuffs.
They called for a female assist who then grabbed "CD" and told her to "spread'em" and then "very thoroughly frisked me everywhere, saying that she was searching for drugs and/or weapons!"
"CD" was given a ticket for "STOPPING ON SIDEWALK BLOCKING TRAFFIC" which is an infraction. (The Officer may have mixed up Crosswalk and Sidewalk - Excellent!)
There are a couple of things wrong with this scenario, the first being that it is completely unbelievable that "CD" posed a such a threat to the 12 police officers that it was necessary to submit her to such a thorough and humiliating experience.
The second thing that is wrong with this scenario is the fact that the Police Department has a very specific protocol for dealing with an "Illegal Assembly." If the 12 Officers who responded to the LACritical Mass made a decision that the ride constituted an illegal assembly, law enforcement present at the scene must then announce to the crowd that the crowd must disperse. The Dispersal Order is very specific on the process.
Nowhere in the Dispersal Order does it say, "pick someone from the crowd, handcuff her, yell at her, frisk her thoroughly looking for drugs and weapons, then issue her a poorly-written ticket for an infraction."
"CD" reports that two guys stopped to make sure everything was okay and that they stayed until the end. "Thank god. I didn't even know them. Which is always a great reminder of how amazing some people are."
The amazing people of Los Angeles deserve better from our Police Department.
If you're a fan of the 1st Amendment, give City Council President Garcetti a call and ask him to look into this case. It's summer time, the evenings are warm, it's entirely possible that there will be groups of cyclists on the streets. It would be great to have a well-informed Police Department capable of dealing with a crowd without having to get aggressive.
If you're a fan of the 4th Amendment, give City Council Transportation Chair Wendy Greuel a call and ask her to look into the case. It's always a good time to be secure in our persons and property, free of unreasonable search and seizure.
It's up to us to work with our Leadership in making Los Angeles a Great City.
Call Council President Garcetti @ 213- 473-7013 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Call Councilwoman Greuel @ 213-473-7002 or email@example.com