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Building a nation of true equality: in Monterey County and elsewhere, voices for change to policing and more

Since the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, numerous Black Lives Matter demonstrations are taking place in Monterey County—including on Independence Day weekend—as are occurring elsewhere in the United States and around the world.

For a related post on this site, see “A Bike Hike in 1975: A slice of American history. The post includes lists of resources for raising personal and public awareness.

Below in this post, refer to the green boxes for “How does bike advocacy fit in to this picture?” and the purple boxes for “Police officers on bikes.”

As of Independence Day 2020, all Monterey County demonstrations have been peaceful protests—including the East Side and Seaside Solidarity March on July 3, organized by the Monterey County Black & Brown Solidarity Coalition.

Some people are unaware that the majority of Monterey County residents are Latino/Hispanic.

Population estimates, as of 1 July 2019, indicate 3.5% of the county’s residents are Black or African American alone (source: https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/montereycountycalifornia).

The police officers from the City of Monterey pictured at the top of this post were patrolling by bike on May 30, 2020 at a Black Lives Matter protest at Window on the Bay Park.

Due to the global pandemic (https://bikemonterey.org/summer-2020-covid-19-advisories-for-monterey-county-california-and-beyond.html), local protest organizers have announced that facial coverings are required of participants. A minimum of 6′ physical distancing is urged.

How does bicycling advocacy fit in to this picture?

Since 2009 the Bicycling Monterey website and projects are unpaid work for the founder. From infrastructure planning to public education and outreach, there are many bike advocacy needs competing for attention.

Despite competing needs, over these eleven years, among Bicycling Monterey’s priorities is helping to build positive relationships between people who bike and law enforcement professionals (e.g., scroll down our projects page to #5).

We’ve intentionally engaged law enforcement professionals (LE) in our bike advocacy efforts—from welcoming Greenfield Police to help us with youth helmet giveaways and fittings at a South County health fair, to securing Salinas Police Department’s public education support by SPD putting “I give 3 feet” stickers on SPD patrol cars, to helping Seaside Police Activities League organize a Bike Fair, to providing the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office and many local PDs with bike law summaries in Spanish and English for appropriate “education, not citation” interactions and for events such as National Night Out, along with offering PDs in-service training about bike laws, and engaging LE in many other ways.

Police-related bike advocacy is also one aspect of our bike equity efforts (see #6 in https://bikemonterey.org/bike-equity-bicycling-monterey-projects.html). We endeavor to listen to all sides on police-related issues (e.g., see section 5, “Peace and Justice” in https://bikemonterey.org/east-salinas-the-alisal.html) and to educate ourselves about various justice issues (e.g., see section 10, “About Juvenile Justice” in https://bikemonterey.org/probation-dept-youth-center-bike-education.html).

In addition, we believe it is one of the many responsibilities of good citizenship to speak up and ask questions when actions of law enforcement professionals raise concerns. At times we’ve been surprised by the apparent lack of interest among local bike advocates, media, and others regarding an LE professional’s action that we found worthy of further inquiry (e.g., see #7 in the following PDF: https://bikemonterey.org/wp-content/uploads/8-Public-comments-for-7-Nov-2018-bike-ped-mtg.pdf).

“We need diverse voices at the table to design bikeable, walkable cities that are safe, accessible and serve everyone.”

Of course, sometimes people on bikes, especially bicycle commuters, are stopped by a traffic cop or other police officer. At the June 3, 2020 online meeting of the Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, during the public comment period, Bicycling Monterey’s founder asked the Bike-Ped Committee to consider sending a letter to local mayors asking them to sign the Obama Foundation’s Commit to Action pledge (details below). One of the committee members objected immediately, stating it was inappropriate to raise that topic at the meeting. No other attendees voiced an opinion, so the idea was dropped.

Bicycling Monterey’s founder had personally reached out earlier that day to one local mayor, Mayor Clyde Roberson of City of Monterey. Mayor Roberson signed the pledge on June 5.

For a multitude of reasons (not just LE-related), having a more diverse body of TAMC Bike-Ped Committee voting members and other attendees is one of the many ways to help create a more equal society.

People can participate in TAMC’s Bike-Ped meetings simply by attending (due to the pandemic, now held online), by speaking up, and if they wish to, by applying to become a voting member of the committee. Learn more: https://bikemonterey.org/monthly-meetings-tamc-bicycle-pedestrian-facilities-advisory-committee-public-welcome.html

Mayors of many U.S. cities have responded to former President Barack Obama’s call for law enforcement departments to address use of police force policies in their cities. For details, refer to the Obama Foundation website’s Commit to Action page: https://www.obama.org/mayor-pledge/.

Police officers on bikes

Sometimes a bicycle is just what a police officer needs—and that was the case on June 30 in Atlanta, Georgia. An Atlanta Police Department officer needed a bike to pursue a murder suspect. He was provided an on-the-spot loaner by a person he came upon, as shown in the video below. (No need to have a Twitter account to view the video; just click the arrow in this APD tweet.)

Cops on bikes in Monterey County

Some Monterey County police departments have bicycles for officers to use in carrying out their duties. To see cops on bikes in the Monterey County cities of Carmel-by-the-Sea, Greenfield, Monterey, Salinas, and Soledad—plus some support for bicycling shown by California Highway Patrol’s Monterey branch,  Marina and Seaside Police Departments, and the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office—refer to https://bikemonterey.org/constables-of-the-peace-cops-on-bikes.html.

Gallery below, Monterey County LE, left to right:
Top row, East Salinas, Carmel-by-the-Sea, downtown Salinas.
Second row, Soledad, Greenfield, Seaside.
Third row, Salinas PD officer at Laguna Seca, downtown Monterey, California Highway Patrol at Laguna Seca.
Fourth row, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Greenfield.
Bottom row, Greenfield, Salinas.

More posts featuring law enforcement professionals: https://bikemonterey.org/category/laws-safety/constables-of-the-peace-laws-safety

Here’s to all of us—individual citizens, grassroots organizations, law enforcement professionals, government officials, and all others—working together for positive changes.

Besides peaceful protests, there are many actions one can take to help make the USA a nation of true equality for all, from increasing our understanding of white privilege to making sure we register and vote in every local, state, and national election.

This post was published on 4 July 2020. One or more changes last made to this post on 5 July 2020.

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