Oct 26, 2020
On August 31, deputies of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department shot 16 times and killed Dijon Kizzee. The Sheriff’s Department later claimed that deputies wanted to stop him for riding his bike on the wrong side of the street in South Los Angeles. This killing spurred weeks of protests.
As shocking as this police killing was, it is not unusual. Since 2005, the police and sheriff deputies in Los Angeles County have shot 16 people for minor bike violations, according to a study done by the Los Angeles Times. People were shot after the police said they were riding on the sidewalk, biking without a light or on the wrong side of the road. In 11 of these incidents, including that of Kizzee, the bicyclists, all male and Black or Latino, were killed.
In 2009, for example, two Inglewood cops in an unmarked car began to follow Richard Tyson, 20 years old, after they said they tried to stop him for biking on a sidewalk. Tyson asked them, “Why are you always messing with me? I’m just coming from the store.” Tyson biked away, and the officers, who said they thought he had a gun, followed with lights and sirens. After a cop chased Tyson to the backyard of an apartment complex, he shot Tyson six times, killing him. The police later admitted they found no gun.
The police are an occupation army in working class neighborhoods. Using minor infractions as the excuse to harass, demean and degrade, hanging the threat of violence and prison over everyone’s heads. They impose order in neighborhoods ravaged by poverty and widespread unemployment.