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Cyclists enraged over alleged LAPD attack

May 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
A videotaped scuffle between LAPD officers and bike riders took center stage Tuesday night at a city council committee meeting. The taped incident has infuriated many in the cycling community.The video posted on YouTube.com shows members of the bike ride group Critical Mass being attacked by LAPD officers during a ride last Friday.

One officer kicked a passing cyclist, and then the rider filming the incident was thrown to the ground and tackled.

"What happened on Friday is disgusting," said Jennifer Beatty, a bicyclist with Critical Mass.

Beatty and Amanda Lypsey were riding with the group. They claim another group of LAPD officers attacked them in a separate incident that same night.

"The police officer jumped out of the car and grabbed the nearest cyclist by the handlebars and the shoulder and shoved him to the ground," said Lipsey, another Critical Mass cyclist.

Tuesday, Los Angeles police told riders during L.A. City Council's Bicycle Advisory Committee that the five officers have been taken out of the field.

Even Police Chief Charlie Beck stopped by and promised a thorough investigation.

"Critical Mass is very chaotic. It can get very stressful for police officers, but we're held to a higher standard. We have to be able to handle stress. We have to be able to maintain our composure. I don't know what exactly happened, but we'll look at all these things," Beck said.

Police say that the alleged attack happened during what Critical Mass riders call a "Circle of Death," where riders circle around an intersection and raise their bikes up causing a traffic hazard.

Cyclists say that's no excuse.

"You wouldn't do that to a pedestrian. You don't ram cars when they run red lights, but for some reason, the inability or the lack of a policy or techniques on how to handle cyclists on the streets of L.A. sometimes means people use inappropriate behavior," said Critical Mass bicyclist Stephen Box.

They're hoping to make some changes with the YouTube.com footage.

"I want to feel safe in this city. I want to feel supported by our police officers," said Beatty.

Los Angeles police say that they will be re-examining their training when it comes to dealing with cyclists. As for the five officers in question, they will remain on inside duty until the investigation is complete.

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