Storm trooper clad Los Angeles Police officers arrested a group of bicyclers protesting the oil industry, and blockaded the Metro Blue line stranding rush hour commuters for about forty minutes at Flower and 18th Street Tuesday afternoon.
The mass arrest, just behind the Patriotic Hall, headquarters of the Independent Media Center [IMC] and the Shadow Convention was witnessed by dozens of IMC journalists, Shadow attendees and Legal Observers from the National Lawyers Guild.
Ariela Gottschalk, who was not part of those originally arrested, said her group had been on a "critical mass" bike ride when without warning a squad of motorcycle cops forced the group off Washington Street and the down them down the wrong way on 18th Street. "We were promoting bicycle-friendly laws for cities, but only a few of us even had signs", she said, before the police came across the street to where media were interviewing her and placed her under arrest along with the approximately 30 riders.
When a line of black bucket helmeted police forced the crowd of observers to the south side of Flower and 18th Street, and stopped the rush hour flow of Blue Line trains, the crowd shouted the First Amendment and "Ride a bike go to jail" at the officers. Police refuse to identify themselves to Lawyers Guild attorney Ben Rosenfield or to allow him to cross Flower to observe the arrests, which took about three hours to complete.