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Bike Riders Protest BP, LAPD Takes Some Down




UPDATE: LAPD Launches Investigation of Bike Ride Video Incident

We heard some rumblings on Twitter of a BP protest bike tonight, to culminate at the futuristic BP gas station on Robertson and Olympic Blvd. The ride did occur, narrowly cutting around West Hollywood.

Police were busy with the riders all evening, escorting them at different points with patrol cars. They became concerned about traffic and the possible resulting interference to emergency vehicle response times, especially when the riders were in the Hollywood area. Fire department units were notified of the disruption.

BP Gas Station at Robertson and Olympic

Los Angeles Police first encountered the riders as they were spotted on 6th Street heading west, then cutting up Crescent Heights to 3rd before continuing westbound towards their destination at the gas station.

Interaction with the LAPD took a turn for the worse in Hollywood, well after the initial group left the gas station, where a few riders were taken down by officers. Dramatic video was posted to YouTube showing an incident.

The riders were part of a loosely organized group called Critical Mass, which advocates for bikers rights. They often organize late night rides in various parts of the city that “flood” the streets with bike riders to increase awareness of bike riding and the need for vehicles to share the road.

LAPD dispatchers reported their numbers starting out at about 200, growing to 400 at the gas station.

Many calls came in to the LAPD about the group, with one frustrated driver complaining that some riders around Olympic and Fairfax were hitting their vehicle as they passed, perhaps with their hands as the driver attempted to pull into their path.

Critical Mass riders at the BP gas station on Robertson Blvd, protesting the gulf oil spill. (Photo: formalplay on Flickr, click for full version)

The riders apparently didn’t stay at the station on Robertson for very long, as reports indicated they quickly switched back, riding eastbound, possibly stopping at Pan Pacific Park near The Grove shopping center. At that point, one LAPD officer reported to the dispatch center that the group possibly numbered at 1000 or more.

From there, a splinter group headed further east, making their way up to Hollywood Blvd and Highland Ave, numbering about 200 riders at that point according to the LAPD.

That’s when things turned a bit ugly, as shown in the video where a rider is filming another rider being detained by the LAPD. One officer kicks out his legs, but it it unclear at what – possibly either passing bikes that were coming too close, or maybe as a tactic to destabilize the person being detained to assist in cuffing. The filming rider screams out in protest, and is then tackled by other officers while the camera continues to roll.

A tipster told LAist:

The *vast majority* of the police along the way were helpful and accommodating. Even firefighters were out on the sidewalks outside of their stations giving high fives and waving hello. But for whatever reason the police in Hollywood were extremely aggressive and were harassing riders for no reason other than to get their kicks (I presume).

Our theory, based on radio transmissions, was that Hollywood LAPD officers were caught off-guard when the group reached their area. It appeared that the riders were not followed continuously by the same commanding LAPD officers, so each time they reached new areas and police, or calls came in to dispatchers, it was often treated as a new incident until someone inside LAPD made the connection for those unaware.

LAPD Audio: Critical Mass BP Protest Bike Ride

Compounding the surprise of the situation was that the Hollywood area is much more active on the street, and with crime and emergency response needs, than other areas bike riders had visited.  We guess that LAPD in that area is much more aggressive in general about taking control of situations that occur before they get further out of control. And in this case, the concern they had without  understanding what was going on was likely a factor.

This is not to say that the actions were either justified or not. We’re just trying to explain our theory as to what was behind it.

The riders continued east from Hollywood and Highland to Western, where they seemed to remain for awhile and possibly dispersing to some degree. Riders were reported going both east and west on Hollywood Blvd after being reported at Western.

Reports are still coming in about riders in another part of Los Angeles at about 11:15pm, further east at Temple and Glendale. That appears to be a different group, called People’s Ride.

The Twitter account of LosAngelesCM posted the following info leading up to the ride.

6:50PM: Crowd is roaring here at the start point

Those who are bringing their walkie talkies/two way radios, tune it to channel 13.

The environment is already being trashed by BP, so please pick up all your trash before riding off tonight.

When riding tonight remember to be respectful of each other and car drivers (some don’t know any better). When confronted with anger, smile

Continue Reading


  1. danceralamode

    May 29, 2010 at 12:55 AM

    Wait, so what were we suspects for? Being traffic? Cyclists have all the rights and responsibilities to the road. Just because there’s more than one of us does NOT give the LAPD to drive recklessly, cut off a group of cyclists traveling through a green light legally, jump out of the black & white, then grab a passing cyclist and THROW them to the ground without any instructions to stop or disperse. That’s called ASSAULT!

    Cycling is a viable mode of transportation, and just because there are a number of cyclists using the same route as their route to destination, does not give LAPD or anyone else the right to arrest them or even ticket them. In fact, I only saw LAPD arresting and tackling people who were following traffic laws.

  2. @MedusaaMeli

    May 29, 2010 at 1:33 AM

    Very Good Cause,
    Plus Everyone out there was F’cking AMAZING.

  3. FlyWheel

    May 29, 2010 at 2:55 AM

    Great ride tonight. Lots of fun and for a good cause. Hopefully the next Critical Mass is just as good. Thank you to all the drivers who showed us respect.

  4. LA Bicyclists

    May 29, 2010 at 2:58 AM

    Can you post the extended version of audio for the LAPD radio transmissions. It’s amazing that bicycles “caused traffic problems”. Don’t cars cause traffic problems everyday? Thanks for covering this as well. It shows that LA isn’t just all about cars. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

  5. Joe Anthony -@ohaijoe

    May 29, 2010 at 9:48 AM

    Last night’s CM was exceptional, one of the biggest turn-outs I’ve seen.

    Riders and drivers, and especially our pedestrian audience, were by and large positive and supportive.

    The BP protest (“circle of death”?”) was moving. Driver’s honked and screamed along in support as cyclists peacefully demonstrated.

    Although there were “incidents”, they were few. Some cyclists, as well as some drivers and LAPD crossed the line. No surprise when you get as many as 1,000 people together for an event.

    I didn’t witness any LAPD tackling of cyclists first-hand, although I did see a few cuffed cyclists and heard stories. While it’s hard to say to what extent the arrested cyclists provoked the LAPD, and there certainly was provocation throughout the ride, it is clear that LAPD needs to work on policy issues in dealing with cyclists at group rides.

    Like the commenters above have said, it was an amazing time, great cause, and overall a peaceful and positive one. Looking forward to the next….

  6. Gina

    May 29, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    This is not going to go away, the more cyclists the LAPD assaults the more cyclists will show up for the next CM ride.

    People are sick and tired of FIrestone and Big Oil ruining Los Angeles and contributing to global warming.

  7. Gina

    May 29, 2010 at 10:09 AM

    LAPD needs to realise that it’s not illegal to cause traffic jams, what are they going to do? Arrest everyone on the 405 frwy during rush hour traffic simply becasue there are a lot of people on the road at the same time?

    And motorists need to sit and wait, it’s called a traffic jam, and not attempt to assult riders by cutting in with their cars – if they sit and wait they won’t get tapped by cyclists hands or ortherwise.

    This is just common sense.

  8. LAFD

    May 29, 2010 at 1:57 PM

    WeHo Daily,

    Thank you for providing a forum in which people can express their opinions and observations.

    Los Angeles Firefighters hope to maintain open lines of dialogue with such event organizers, so that we can prepare to safely assist participants, observers – and of course the hundreds of people who routinely await our swift response to their emergency needs on any given night.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

  9. John

    May 29, 2010 at 11:11 PM

    I agree that the bike ride was for the most part peaceful. I believe that the LAPD make a minor amount of arrests due to the fact that the law states that a “peaceful assembly” is legal. As you all know the majority of riders were peaceful, but we can see even in videos that some were not. When riders and pedestrians are assembling and are carrying out actions that are aggressive and/or violent and could cause harm or injury to others, it is completely justified to detain or arrest them based on the situation. As seen in one of the videos, people are seen chanting ” F*** PD” which clearly shows that there intentions toward police and possibly others are not “peaceful”. Only the result of the investigation will answer all of the questions.

  10. Staff


    May 30, 2010 at 10:25 AM

    Thanks to everyone for your comments! John, just to clarify, I think you might be referring to the chants of “F*** BP!” — they are saying BP, as in british petroleum, not PD as in police dept. It’s kind of hard to discern in the video.

  11. Enci

    May 30, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    I can’t download nor listen to the audio file. Could you email it to me or tell me where could listen to it? ~Thanks!

  12. Staff


    May 30, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    Sorry about the problem with the audio file – it should be fixed now.

  13. D rock

    May 30, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    I have seen to many of those so called justice fighter on bikes actually brake the law and put alot of people in harms way. They claim to be actual responsible people but brake the law for not stopping on red lights or stop signs. what a bunch of fakes!

  14. Darryl Gates

    May 31, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    Seriously, F the police!!! I am so sick of these thugs getting away with this crap. They can’t control themselves. The LAPD behaves exactly like any other street gang here in LA. The ONLY difference is that they rarely get in trouble for the terror they cause on Angelenos. That kick was a total sissy move. Be a man you dirty pig and do your job and stop a robbery, murder, rape, etc. not bike riders demonstrating against an oil company.

  15. RoadWarrior

    May 31, 2010 at 6:08 PM

    “Cyclists have all the rights and responsibilities to the road.”
    – Yes, including following motor vehicle laws. That means stopping at red lights.

    “Driver’s honked and screamed along in support as cyclists peacefully demonstrated.”
    -Yeah, they were honking and screaming alright…

    “And motorists need to sit and wait, it’s called a traffic jam, and not attempt to assult riders by cutting in with their cars – if they sit and wait they won’t get tapped by cyclists hands or ortherwise.”
    – I love how your sense of entitlement makes you more important than everyone else who wants to get somewhere.

    I’ve seen the Critical Mass groups blow through red lights many times. That’s no way to generate support for your cause.

    I’m sure LAPD will be much more prepared next month.

  16. Robin

    June 3, 2010 at 12:56 AM

    Ok I get it, you are upset about what happened, but from what i could see the cyclist got extremely close to the officer and he kicked away the tire so he would not get hit by the bike. As someone who has seen this wonder ride many times I can say that the thought is wonderful, however there have been quite a few times that i have witnessed bike riders who run through red lights and almost cause traffic accidents. For people to say that they are all good and that the riders never do anything wrong is an untruth. As far as the officers throwing the person to the ground, how do you know what he was doing behind the camera? If you’re going to pass judgement on the officers at least pass it through both sets of eyes (cops and cyclists) not just the ones you want to see your truth though.

  17. Lacey

    August 5, 2012 at 1:41 AM

    I don’t understand how they can be protesting for drivers to “share the road”. Cars do not drive side by side in the lanes I think bikers should follow the same rules that cars do. How can we share our lane with another moving vehicle safely? Most of the time when a biker comes up beside me i am surprised and don’t expect it.

    I have no problem with bikes but the drivers need to follow some set of rules.

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