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Video and Police Harassing Cyclists in BP Oil Spill Protest

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by copythat

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In The News

LAPD launched an investigation after a Hollywood police officer was allegedly spotted throwing a kick toward a bicyclist involved in a demonstration against British Petroleum over BP's oil spill. At least 400 bicyclists-and up to as many as 1,000 cyclists-showed up for the bike ride to a BP station in Beverly Hills in order to protest British Petroleum's role in the Gulf oil spill.
Bikeside LA includes the statement that: 

"bicyclists were met with a contingent of LAPD Officers armed with batons kicking and tackling cyclists off their bikes. Officers drove squad cars into the crowd of riders. Some cyclists were even stopped in their tracks and flung from their bike with a baton stuck in the spokes (a la Breaking Away). These cyclists were then brutalized, handcuffed and then cited for small infractions such as no lights or not obeying traffic laws…At no point was the mass of riders identified as an illegal assembly or addressed with a formal dispersal order. In fact: officers employed the use of force to effect dispersal (which is against LAPD Policy and illegal)."

It's unclear what may have precipitated the Los Angeles Police Department officer's actions on Hollywood Boulevard near Highland Avenue; what is known is that the cameraman, taking the video footage, began to loudly ask why a Hollywood police officer tried to kick a bicyclist off of their bike, then that cameraman is quickly taken down from behind by at least one police officer (with at least two officers present, based on distinctively different verbal commands being given, on the video footage); his video camera falls to the ground, revealing footage of two LAPD officers with nightsticks or batons, in what appears to be roughing up the cameraman. Audio on the videotaped footage includes the cameraman saying, "Wow, wow, wow -- what the f--- was that for," with his claim that he was tackled and detained by Los Angeles police (Hollywood officers). Other bicyclists later complained online that LAPD Police Officers had put their batons through bike riders' spokes, driven police patrol cars into groups of bike riders and claim officers had even thrown bicyclists to the ground or handcuffed them for minor infractions like not having proper lights.
The civil rights violations claims, or even claims of officer brutality or abuse of rights, are interesting: police often help block intersections during demonstrations, to help protesters get through safely. It seems police may have a different response when a demonstration pertains to one of the world's most powerful corporations-but, then again, more has occurred over far less powerful companies. Regardless of reason or cause, it seems a whole lot of havoc with LAPD occurred.
What may have sparked the clash between LAPD Police Officers and the group of bicyclists could have been started at what riders claim was an incident at the red streetlight located at the street intersection of Hollywood and Highland in Southern California. Bicyclists say that about 20 bike riders went through the light, sparking officers to crack down on others. An online poster states that cops posted up on the intersection, starting to grab riders as they went by, which in turn prompted some bicyclists to call the cops names (not against the law, however not necessarily the brightest move). Other accounts of the situation include some of the bicyclists yelling "f--- the police."
The cameraman, with footage now rolling on news stations, appears to have been taken to the ground in the meantime, with one police officer yelling at the cameraman to "get up", another LAPD officer instructing him to "get down". A bit of mixed commands apparently. LAPD says "The [police] department's Professional Standards Bureau has taken the lead in the inquiry and the police commission's inspector general has also been made fully aware of the matter," LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said.
Paul Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing L.A. police, urged the public to reserve judgment until all the facts of the case surface.
Apparently the police need someone to protect them-who knew?
In what at least appears to be a display or instance(s) of police brutality, Weber states: "We only ask that the community refrain from a rush to judgment," he said. "It is always important to remember that home video, shot from a distance, from one angle and in the dark, and not at the beginning of the incident seldom tells the whole story."
Now that is an interesting perspective, since in-house jail cameras, which seem to have a lot of the above-mentioned descriptive characteristics, are used for prosecution purposes. The cameraman incident happened, ironically, as LAPD police officers seemed to have patched up relations with the bicyclists.
LAPD Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said he was working on a new police officer training document that would inform LAPD officers about [bike] riders' rights.
That BP gas station, located at Olympic and Robertson boulevards in Los Angeles county of Southern California, has been ironically publicized as an "environmentally friendly" station.

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