Thursday, December 18, 2008
Cyclists' Bill of Rights - #3 and #12
Last week when the Cyclists' Bill of Rights came before the City Council for endorsement, Councilman Tom LaBonge lumbered to the microphone, objecting to #3 which calls for "the right to the full support of educated law enforcement."
LaBonge felt that it was confrontational to suggest that the LAPD needed to be educated and thought that this item created an adversarial relationship. Given the nature of the one-sided ring of rhetoric that is the City Council, we were unable to simply ask LaBonge "Are you saying that cyclists don't have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement?"
Of course the issue is double moot as 1) the City Council that day voted unanimously in favor of the motion in supporting the Cyclists' Bill of Rights and 2) the ACLU, holding a Judge's ruling in hand, just settled a landmark case that limits the LAPD from conducting illegal stops, searches and seizures.
Jodi Wakefield, the LAPD Captain for the Central Division, disagreed with the Judge's ruling but said "there's nothing wrong with us going back and making sure that our officers clearly understand the Constitution, and all the laws they have to abide by."
It is against this backdrop of Civil Rights violations that cyclists feel the need to stand up and make the simple claim:
"Cyclists have the right to the full support of educated law enforcement."
In all fairness to the sensitivities of our law enforcement partners, we ain't there yet! And until we get there, we should be working together to make it happen/
Sure we've come a long way since 2000 when 71 cyclists were rounded up at the Democratic Convention, detained for up to two days with 23 women enduring repeated visual body cavity examinations, all of which resulted in approximately three million dollars in settlement to right the wrongs of those in charge.
Sure we were still moving in the right direction in 2007 when cyclists rode to the May Day march, only to get caught up in the melee, all of which resulted in approximately ten million dollars in settlement to right the wrongs of those in charge.
Sure we're all in it together when the cycling community stands up and claims their civil rights, asserting that the 4th Amendment guarantees them "the right to be secure in their persons and property, and to be free from unreasonable search and seizure."
Sure we're partners in community policing when the cycling community stands up and calls for the full support of educated law enforcement.
Sure we're partners when we're at City Hall or in a Committee meeting or when there's a press conference, but late at night, when the street is dark, that's when our Civil Rights get tested and that's when cyclists call for the support of educated law enforcement.
Los Angeles is the second largest city in the country. We should be a Great City, setting the standard for Civil Rights, but instead, LA looks for the minimum and argues for mediocrity.
If it were left to LaBonge, the Cyclists' Bill of Rights would be just another tattered spoke card serving as a reminder of a ride gone by.
As for the cyclists, the Cyclists' Bill of Rights is a living, breathing document that embodies all that is great about riding the streets of Los Angeles.
"See you on the Streets!"