On Monday, an estimated 200 or so motorcycle, ATV and dirt bike riders surprised their fellow drivers — and, apparently, law enforcement officers — in Broward and Miami-Dade counties as they rode through city streets in packs. In Broward, riders were reportedly spotted in Davie, Pompano Beach, Hallandale and Fort Lauderdale, as well as up and down I-95. In some instances, the riders drove toward opposing traffic. I myself almost hit a biker accidentally driving down Biscayne Boulevard in Miami on Monday, and a minor crash in Fort Lauderdale reportedly sent one biker to the hospital.
The ride has been criticized for endangering both civilians and participants. Police policies generally prohibit cops from pursuing vehicles in a chase unless a felony has been committed. So, the bikers essentially had free reign over South Florida's streets. Law enforcement leaders said they purposely left
Broward Sheriff Scott Israel told the Sun-Sentinel, "For us to take a non-aggressive posture, to use discretion and restraint, I'm so proud of our leaders and deputies for doing that, especially up in Pompano [Beach] where we had most of the traffic into central Broward." He suggested his agency knew of the event but thought it was "a Dade County event. Our intelligence people had no information that anyone was coming to Broward County."
Fort Lauderdale mayor Jack Seiler said the situation was "unacceptable" and called for better planning next year.
Reaction to the protest online has been vitriolic and tinged with racism. The riders have been called "thugs," and accused of tarnishing King's own legacy.
Though this is an unscientific example, here are some Tweets and Facebook comments from Monday:
A person named Shannon Sponge Rose wrote in Facebook: "The news is calling this mess organized. I'm sorry, but this was an unorganized chaotic mess. This put many lives in danger with the doing, wheelies, burnouts, kicking cars and taunting other drivers. At some points were even weaving in and out of traffic on the wrong side of the road."
Bob Markey II said, "Here we go again. Thugs drive like maniacs in non-street legal motorcycles and for at least the second year, police act like they knew nothing about it and do nothing to stop it. Have the sheriff's offices, police
Even on the liberal Occupy Miami page, a
There were, of course, some positive comments, mostly from young people. But calling nonviolent demonstrators "thugs" and "criminals," — and saying they ought to be run over — should be unacceptable, anywhere.
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The MLK rideout just shows that we the people have power in numbers. We stand together we stand strong.— DSleg3737 (patcha) (@derekslegl) January 20, 2016