UPDATE: Police intend to seek criminal charges against a motorist involved in a road rage incident that seriously injured two cyclists in Mandeville Canyon on July Fourth. Laist.com has shocking photos and the story.
You’ve heard the story now of how the city is destroying my neighborhood by passively standing by while a single-family house has been turned into a tenement apartment building and how commenters say the same thing is happening in their neighborhoods.
But did you know that golfers at city courses now have to show driver’s licenses to prove they really are legal residents of L.A. even as City Hall resists asking for the same kind of proof from illegal immigrant gangsters who commit crimes, violent or otherwise.
And then there’s the astonishing case of the LAPD’s handcuffing and searching bicyclists for not having a front light — one of a growing number of incidents logged at laist.com that suggests the LAPD has decided cyclists, not gangsters, are the real menace to our society.
SoapBoxLA.com reported on the incident that occurred last Wednesday in Hollywood and it seemed so outrageous I decided to call the cyclists involved myself.
The story involves a high-tech software developer, a young woman and a UCLA doctoral candidate in mathematics who were cycling home from Echo Park to the Westside when they were treated the way the LAPD used to treat hoodlums in its militaristic glory days under Daryl Gates.
The cyclists — Alex Thompson, Paul Bringetto and Andrea Tzvetkov — saw a Latino man slowly riding his bike being pulled over and handcuffed. They didn’t know the man but they decided to stop and observe what was happening because that’s the protocol adopted by activists who are demanding a Cyclist Bill of Rights.
Officers Corona and Stine did not like being watched and certainly didn’t like Bringetto asking what was going on.
“It’s like they equate bikes with poverty and poverty with criminals and think they can get away with anything,” said Thompson, the doctoral candidate who will be blogging about the incident today at Westside BikeSide, an activist website.
He recalled Corona telling Bringetto, “Mind your own business.”
Bringetto: “What did he do wrong?”
Corona: “Don’t move. Stay there.”
Bringetto: “We’re just here to observe.”
Corona: “You’re going to jail.”
At that point, Bringetto was handcuffed and Corona decided to search
his backpack despite repeated objections that the search was illegal
and unjustified. The search turned up nothing of interest but the
drama continued for about 35 minutes with Bringetto in handcuffs.
that time, Thompson got Stephen and Enci Box on his cell phone. Stephen
and Enci are leaders in the urban cyclist group and lead organizers of
the Saving L.A. Project’s July 14 Bastille Day rally at City Hall.
is experienced at being hassled by the cops and got Hollywood Division
commander, Lt. Donatoni, on the phone and urged him to send a
supervisor to the scene.of the crime He said Donatoni resisted the
suggestion for a long time and they argued about it but Sgt. Harrington
finally did show up.
Bringetto said the officers’ demeanor changed at that point.
behavior, in particular, “creeped me out,” Bringetto said. “He seemed
to enjoy it. He told me, ‘I can do whatever I want.’ He seemed to get a
kind of enjoyment out of what he was doing.”
softened with the sergeant’s arrival. The Latino man was ticketed for
riding without a headlight sent on his way. Bringetto eventually was
released with a citation for the same infraction.
At that point,
the three of them met Box at the police station where they continued to
protest the LAPD’s “gross abuse of authority,” as Bringetto called it.
They didn’t get very far with the officers so Bringetto will file a
I’m a believer in the new LAPD, that cops can
get the job done without acting like the they can push people around with impunity. But a pattern of
incidents like this and other actions by City Hall raise questions for
me about what is really going on.
When you look at a growing
sequence of actions by the city, it appears we have found a new enemy,
and the enemy is us, the ordinary citizens who are tired of City Hall
taking more of our money and doing less to make this city better.
we should sign affidavits from all over L.A. about how city actions are
destroying our neighborhoods, our lifestyles and our civil liberties.
Then, we can go into federal court and get a consent decree that
requires City Hall to treat the law-abiding at least as well as it
treats the gangsters and the special interests who buy favors from the