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Caught on Tape: Police Harass Bike Riders During BP Protest Ride

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A large group bike ride was staged last night in protest of British Petroleum and the gulf oil spill. There were an estimated 200-1,000 bike riders in fluctuating numbers who took part in the ride that converged on the BP gas station at Robertson and Olympic, however encounters with LAPD officers signaled an end to the ride for a few in Hollywood.

The ride was described by WeHo Daily as being "loosely organized," by Critical Mass. They did not stay at the BP station long, however, and both the LAPD and LAFD were aware of their presence on the street.

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.

The group traveled to Pan Pacific Park, where police thought the group had grown to be about 1,000 people strong, and they increased their presence as some riders began to head towards Hollywood.

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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.

It was in Hollywood, however, that things seemed to turn ugly for the riders and the LAPD. A video sent to us by email shows a portion of the Hollywood segment of the ride, and an LAPD officer sticking his foot out deliberately in what appears to be a kick aimed at bringing down a cyclist or interfering in his ride. The rider making the video shouted out in protest, and moments later was taken down by police in a confusing tackle; one shouts "get up," while the other shouts "get down." The rider, whose camera has been dropped on the street, repeatedly yells "What'd I do?"

According to the email tipster:

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).

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