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« Okay, here’s my problem with Critical Mass | Main | Consequences »
Thursday
Jun172010

A storm in a Hollywood bowl

After watching this video taken during a recent L A Critical Mass ride, with the title, “Hollywood Cops Attack Bike riders,” I am left to wonder what all the fuss is about?

I had to watch the video several times to figure out what was going on. I see a police officer (On the far side of the street.) handcuffing a cyclist. I have no idea why, we are not told that, but let’s assume he has a reason. The cyclist appears to be cooperating.

The cop, when all is said and done, is doing his job. A man is filming this from across the street and bystanders are whistling and calling out abuse to the officers.

A second officer is then seen kicking out at the wheel of a passing cyclist. The guy filming (Or someone with him.) shouts, “What the fuck was that for.”

While I agree the officer was wrong in his actions, how much abuse will a cop take before he retaliates?

We have no way of knowing what the passing cyclist and others said to the cop that made him kick out.

Finally the last cyclist passes and the cops come across the guy recording the incident. He is knocked to the ground where he meekly asks, “What I do, what I do.”

I’ll tell you exactly what you did. You mouthed off to some cops, and then you were dumb enough to stay there after the last cyclist passed.

Go to any city in the USA, stand and verbally abuse a police officer as he is arresting someone. I can practically guarantee the result will be the same. You will be wrestled to the ground, and possibly arrested yourself for interfering with an officer during the course of his duty.

As I see it, this whole thing is a non-incident. The guy doing the filming was hoping to catch some “Police Brutality” on video. He was doing his best to goad the cops into doing just that; the only “Brutality” I see, is a bike tire gets kicked.

It saddens me that respected bicycle advocates are running with this and pressing for a full investigation. Los Angeles is fortunate that it has a Police Chief who is pro cycling; don’t fuck it up by protesting something as trivial as this.

This is Critical Mass at its worst; an unorganized rabble who take over public streets and create mayhem, then cry foul when the cops try to bring some order.

L A bike advocates are also pressing their Police Chief to pursue motorists who endanger the lives of cyclists. Who is going to bring these motorists to justice?

These very same police officers and their colleagues that Critical Mass participants are goading into a fight right now.

Good way to make friends and influence people. Good way to get the cop on the street to be on your side.

What is your take on this incident?

Update, 2 PM, Thursday 17th June

I have just read on LA Streets Blog that the LAPD is going to join the next LA Critical Mass ride on June 25th.

It is interesting to read the comments on LA Streets Blog, people are already discussing whether or not there should be “Corking” of intersections. According to this flyer being passed out by LAPD there will be no running of red lights or stop signs. All bikes must have lights and brakes.

So bring your Visa to pay your ticket, I understand LAPD doesn’t take American Express

 

                       

Reader Comments (17)

What you are saying is:

"Kicking people is acceptable behaviour for police."
"You're not allowed to question the actions of the police who kick people."
"People who question the police for kicking people should be arrested."

That cop tries to kick a citizen. That is police brutality and nothing else. The police is supposed to be thaugh to handle "high stress situations" without breaking down (a critical mass ride is NOT a high stress situation). Because they are trained they are allowed to wield powers not grandted to ordinary citizens. This cop failed.

I think you, Dave, are the stereotype grumpy old retired man sitting on his porch thinking "those damn kids should just get a hair cut, a proper suit and job and keep their mouths shut while I'm taking my nap." Take note.

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTorben Putkonen

Torben Putkonen

I think you don't get the point that Dave tried to convey to us.
He is telling us that a person shouldn't verbal abuse a police.


If you do this in Thailand to a police or a soldier with weapon,
you are dead,man! You see how they crashed nonviolent protestors last month.
Soldiers blew up heads of protestors just before the protestors asked the government
to dissolve the house of representatives for new election.
Soldiers even gunned down rescue volunteers with redcross flag.
80+ people were killed and thousand were wounded.
And we have to admit it,'cause we live here; or we move somewhere else.

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBkk

You have the right, but they have the guns,man!

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBkk

If that were you, striking a woman or a child that hadn't touched you, good luck trying to claim that you were "provoked."

I don't care if these are "punk kids," or if there is an epidemic of undue police hatred that deserves some pushback. There's nothing right about what that cop did.

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterChamps

"How much abuse will a cop take before he retaliates?"

Verbal abuse doesn't merit a violent reaction from those who are paid to protect and serve. You'll find yourself on a very slippery slope once you proclaim that actions like this are justified.

You're way off on this one, in my opinion.

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjames

To me a “Rodney King” type beating is over the top police brutality; the amount of force shown in this CM incident is no more than I can view any night of the week on the TV program “Cops.” I think people are over reacting here that is all I am saying. Let it go.
Critical Mass does more harm to the public image of cycling than any other bike entity. Cycling advocates should be doing all they can to discourage it, not coming to their defense. CM is abusing the right to ride a bike on the road. Just the opinion of this cyclist, nothing to do with being old or grumpy.
Dave

June 17, 2010 | Registered CommenterDave Moulton

Is it just me, or has Critical Mass always been more about a pro-anarchist stance than pro-cyclist?

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLanceOldstrong

I've always believed that the "critical mass" is reached when there are any number of cyclists on the road - one or one hundred. I've also found that if one gives courtesy then one often recieves it in return. I'm not sure, because I've never participated, but I doubt that CM does much to promote cycling as an activity or an alternate form of transport.
I agree with all who think this cop was WAY out of line and should damned well be investigated/prosecuted. We give them guns, not the right to act like thugs. If he can't take the heat he needs to find another job. Too often the job of policeman attracts bullies and self-righteous types. What next? Clockwork Orange?

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterskylab

Yes, there are arguments to be made against police brutality, as well as against any semblance of a police state.
After all, citizen's have RIGHTS, don't they?

Yet the sting is, alongside rights come responsibilities.

Some of you want to lynch-mob Dave, the cop in the story, or both. How does that make you better? How does CM advance cycling in any way when it deliberately antagonises cops and car drivers?

I'm not saying we should roll over and die, but a bit of respect SHOWN BY US before it is demanded by us to be shown to us would be a start. Add in a bit of common sense, and a healthy dosage of "hearts & minds" and you'll soon see this was badly mishandled on the day.

I wasn't there, so I cannot say who was guilty of what. I can say that a mob-mentality will only create mayhem and further alienate cyclists & cops. And how does that help anybody?

So Dave, I'm siding mostly with you on this issue. It could and should have been handled better by the cyclists. Their behaviour seems to have surrendered the moral high ground.

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterWilliamNB

My long-time friend and his older brother both became police officers. They told me that if you cooperated, didn't give cops any lip, or back-talk and you were respectful, they pretty much would not bother you--and they were speaking about most police officers in general. On the other hand, there are a few cops, they warned, that are just waiting for any excuse to be aggressive.

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBruce

Brutality? Really? Yes, there was an incident that the officer needs to be held accountable for. But to refer to that act as police brutality shows what soft existence most Americans have. There's no excuse for the officer's actions, but CM is really about antagonism rather than advocacy. Take note.

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterjim wallace

Dave, I enjoy reading your personal history posts and the posts passing on some of your distilled knowledge. But when you talk about Critical Mass it's as if you've put on blinders. To judge Critical Mass by the yahoos who use the event to create mayhem (in San Francisco we call them the Testosterone Brigade) would be the same as judging all police officers by the few aggro cops who will take any excuse to start beating on people. Neither subset represents the group as a whole.

CM is many things to many people, and different to all. It's at times fun, interesting, enlightening, spectacular, heartbreaking, frustrating, frightening, inspiring, hilarious, always educational, and a good workout. Critical Mass is an occurrence which requires being there in order to feel the feelings that keep people returning month after month for 20 years; I don't get the impression that you've ever been a part of one in any city. Maybe you should give it a try and see for yourself what it can be like.

Cheers.

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterGrego

Hi Dave-

I offered up a similar take on a blog for KPCC one of the NPR stations in the LA area. I too failed to see what all the fuss was about.

Here is the link.

June 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTodd

For a mass protest — and, let's get real, that's what Critical Mass is good for — where people are antagonizing police, that was pretty mild as far as brutality goes.

What was the point?

June 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRider

A police escort merely may improve safety, discourage (or encourage) rabble-rousers and possibly disprove the openness and acceptance of fellow CM riders if they do not welcome police on bicycles. It also makes the riders appear in need of protection. That's a positive the police can use to justify their presence. It makes CM appear either helpless or threatening to observers.
It does also lend a slight legitimacy/empowerment/ego boost as it shows CM must be reckoned with, preferably calmly.

Making CM adhere strictly to the rules of the road may increase respect of the ride in the eyes of the general public, but diminish some of the effect of the protest. If they could do so on their own, that would be impressive.
Corker pairs or teams can be deployed to stop cyclists at lights and stop signs and to help negotiate left turns.

It's currently a bit of a tantrum.
But sometimes tantrums do get the attention of the "parents" to address a problem.
It works. But it appears immature as well.

June 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRay

Uh-oh. A brake requirement. They may be looking for scofflaws, but stopping and ticketing fixie riders in the middle of this jam could be very provocative.

Do they recognize a chain-fixed cog linkage to leg-operated inertial damper as a brake In L.A.?

June 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRay

Critical Mass, like many other tolerated bits of anarchy in American society only survive because there is an order in which it permitted. Order which is maintained by the police, amongst others. We have become rather complacent about the police, because they are, generally effective at maintaining some semblance of order. Without that order, Critical Mass and other bits of anarchy would quickly devolve into the stereotype of anarchy and mob behavior - right down to the looting and violence we see when social order breaks down.

In short, events like Critical Mass and their participants need the police and other promoters of structure for their own literal survival.

There is plenty of hatred out there, plenty of anger that could quickly be loosed upon a crowd of fixtie hipsters. It is the social order that they are rebelling against that protects them.

Just my thoughts, anyway. Cheers!

June 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMike

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