Hundreds of bikers hit streets for 'Bikes Up, Guns Down' ride
Arrests, 2 injuries reported
MIAMI – Multiple law enforcement agencies teamed up Monday to keep South Florida's roads safe for the annual "Bikes Up, Guns Down" ride.
No sooner would a line of bikers spot the police when the group changed course and, just like a herd in the wild, the straggler was caught.
"I actually came out to ride on my own and promote the sport," said the bike rider who was pulled over. "To show them that you can make these things street legal and that you can ride them like it was a regular street bike."
Last year, the safety of others outweighed the rebellion of a few. Officers instead focused on gas stations where they figured riders would fuel up and police could safely move in. By late Monday, dozens of dirt bikes had been confiscated and dozens of tickets handed out.
"You have to balance these things very carefully," Miami police Maj. Delrish Moss said. "You don't want to create a worse situation. If we go to stop these guys and they flee and now you've caused them to flee into that poor family, now you've created a worse situation than the one you were trying to avoid."
Riders who showed off their talents on social media also showed others getting ticketed or arrested. Police said a majority of the bikes that were impounded were either stolen or didn't have a tag.
"We haven't taken a lot of people to jail, but we are certainly taking the bikes because they are not legal to have on the streets," Moss said.
Two injuries were reported during the ride.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue said one person was seriously injured in their city and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials said another was airlifted to a hospital with head injuries after a dirt bike incident in the area of Northwest 127th Street and Northwest 22nd Avenue.
"We have been working very diligently to make sure that this MLK holiday is very safe and festive," Miami-Dade Police Maj. Ricky Carter said.
Carter said aviation and motor patrol officers are in position.
"We're trying to make sure that they don't create a danger," Carter said.
While police are monitoring the ride, their hands are tied for the most part. Carter said officers are not allowed to chase bikers unless a forcible felony has been committed.
"We do not want to cause any additional risk or danger to other vehicular-pedestrian traffic," Carter said. "So our policy is not to chase these vehicles unless they create a forcible felony."
Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden was at the intersection of U.S. 441 and Northwest 79th Street as about a dozen riders weaved in and out of lanes. One motorcyclist hopped a curb before speeding off.
While police aren't pursuing riders for traffic citations, many officers are equipped with body cameras and said they could turn their footage over to the State Attorney's Office to pursue possible charges against riders who are driving recklessly.
Sky 10 was above Miami Gardens Drive at 3:50 p.m. as one biker was going against traffic for a short time before making a U-turn. Other riders were cutting across sidewalks and front lawns of homes before getting onto the main street.
Coral Springs police issued an alert later in the afternoon warning its residents that the riders were running red lights and to be careful.
"This in NO way is the message Martin Luther King, Jr. spread for peace as indicated by these dangerous drivers," the alert said.
Police blocked off the 79th Street exit on Interstate 95 as they prepared for the bikers to head that way.
One participant told Local 10 News last year that the event is all about stopping violence in a fun and exciting way and called the ride an "adrenaline rush."
But many South Florida drivers have complained about the ride to police, claiming that it is endangering their lives.
Three riders were arrested last year.
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