7 of every 10 bike stops by L.A. sheriff’s deputies involve Latino cyclists
Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Monday, Nov. 8. I’m Justin Ray.
Los Angeles Times reporters Alene Tchekmedyian and Ben Poston recently published a stunning exposé about bike stops.
An analysis of more than 44,000 bike stops logged by the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department since 2017 found that 7 of every 10 stops involved Latino cyclists. Additionally, bikers in poorer communities with large nonwhite populations are stopped and searched far more often than those in more affluent, whiter parts of the county.
What did those stops yield? During searches, deputies find illegal items just 8% of the time, The Times’ analysis showed. Weapons were seized just 164 times — less than half a percent of all searches.
“It’s just another version of stop and frisk,” said Tamika Butler, former head of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, referring to the New York City Police Department’s practice of patting down Latinos and Black people. The NYPD tactic, now defunct, was found to have violated people’s civil rights.
Sheriff’s officials defended the use of bike stops as a necessary and legitimate tool to fight crime, arguing that criminals use bikes to evade detection. The low rates of success uncovering drugs or other contraband while searching bicyclists “do not raise serious questions,” a department spokeswoman told The Times.
The Times’ investigation reveals other issues such as the eyebrow-raising conversations bicyclists have had with law enforcement during stops. We also have graphs and illustrations showing the areas where stops took place.
Here are two other accompanying stories:
- Bicyclists share stories of being stopped by L.A. County deputies. These incidents rarely garner headlines, but they occur thousands of times a year. Although the vast majority do not lead to bloodshed, riders and biking advocates say the practice contributes to the erosion of trust people have in law enforcement while doing little for public safety. Here are a few cyclists’ stories of being stopped, including one who said deputies once mistook him for someone they were after: “some Latino male riding a bike.”
- Sheriff’s Department bike stops: How we reported the story. Want to know how a reporter uncovers such an important story? We explain how data from a public records request gave us a solid picture of the matter. We also explain some of the methodology behind the numbers we present in the investigation.
And now, here’s what’s happening across California:
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State numbers show that California has 1.4 million unemployed residents, but a new study highlights people who can’t find jobs that pay above poverty level. When that population is included, the number is three times higher — 4.8 million. The analysis by the Ludwig Institute for Shared Economic Prosperity, an organization focused on studying the economic well-being of middle- and lower-income Americans, found 25.7% of California workers are functionally unemployed, meaning they are seeking, but cannot find full-time employment paying above the poverty level. CalMatters
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POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Private jets hired by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to transport immigrant detainees have been involved in dangerous incidents. Thousands of pages of government documents analyzed by Capital & Main show that problems persisted and flights continued. “Private companies operate the planes out of remote airports and secluded runways where they are cloaked in secrecy. But ICE’s own records show that the agency has long pleaded with its contractors to address poor upkeep of planes and insufficient training, which have injured immigrant detainees, guards and crew,” according to the report. Capital and Main
CRIME AND COURTS
An Orange County judge ruled that a man accused of carrying out a mass shooting at a real estate office in Orange is not competent to stand trial due to injuries he sustained during a shootout with police. Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez is “unable to communicate or understand the court proceedings,” the Orange County Register reported. The criminal proceedings against Gonzalez will remain indefinitely suspended as he receives treatment. Should he later be found competent, the criminal case could resume. But the likelihood of him recovering enough to ever stand trial is unclear. Gonzalez was charged with special-circumstances murder in the killings of Jenevieve Raygoza, 28; Luis Tovar, 50; Leticia Solis Guzman, 58; and Matthew Farias, 9 after the March 31 shootings. OC Register
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HEALTH AND THE ENVIRONMENT
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