MIAMI – The cat-and-mouse chase in the streets of South Florida this weekend has begun. The motorcycle stunt riders are weaving in and out of traffic, driving the wrong way, and they are showing off their acrobatic wheelies, stoppies and burnouts.
Large groups of defiant riders on All-Terrain Vehicles took to the streets in Miami-Dade County on Friday. Some of them weren't afraid to drive through red lights or to taunt police officers. Some of the more reckless riders weren't wearing helmets.
They were all participating in a series of rallies known as the "Wheels Up, Guns Down," an event that is also known as the Martin Luther King ride out. It was first promoted as a nationwide gang truce to honor the legacy of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., whose philosophy of nonviolence earned him the Nobel Peace Price in 1964.
Most of the MLK weekend events in South Florida are designed to encourage reflection and community engagement. The motorcycle ride does not include service projects or social justice work. Instead, police officers say riders take ATVs and dirt bikes on the road even though Florida law prohibits it, and put themselves and other people in danger.
On Friday afternoon, there were groups of ATV riders in downtown Miami, Liberty City, Coconut Grove, Hialeah, Opa-locka and North Miami. There was a group on Interstate 95.
The Miami-Dade Police Department helicopter was following a group of riders. A male rider fell of his ATV and lost his shoes on Northwest 27th Avenue and Northwest 167th Street. As police officers approached, he was forced to jump on the back of a fleeing ATV and leave his ATV behind.
Another group of riders stopped at a gas station at 119th Street and 22nd Avenue in Opa-locka. When Miami-Dade police officers arrived, the riders rushed out. Officers ran after them, and were able to arrest two riders, impound a stolen bike and two stolen firearms.
The law enforcement community is on alert in both Miami-Dade and Broward counties. They are ready to arrest the riders who are breaking the law and have warned that they will be towing the ATVs, dirt bikes and motorcycles of those who are arrested. They were also urging drivers to proceed with caution, as the rides are scheduled to continue through Monday.
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