Florida ‘MLK Ride Out’ participant: Doing this for good cause

MIRAMAR, Fla. – A motorcyclist used a scarf to cover his face while riding on Friday along a Broward County road. He said he was afraid to show his face not because he plans on breaking the law, but because he fears that just his participation on the massive #MLKRideout event this weekend could result in his arrest.

The motorcyclist said he was participating in the event, formerly known as Wheels Up, Guns Down, to honor Martin Luther King Jr.'s philosophy of nonviolence. He said he is aware of the intensity of the law enforcement response that the event has every year.

“We are just trying to be safe; trying to ride safely -- not putting peoples’ lives in danger," said the rider, adding that he has been an #MLKRideout participant since 2013.

An #MLKRideout participant wants drivers and police officers to remember that the organizers of the nationwide event, which also includes cyclists, have altruistic motives. Some say they are participating to protest racism, police brutality and economic injustice. Others join to feel a part of the bikers’ community.

“We are actually doing this for a good cause,” he said. “It stops the violence. It takes a lot of kids away from the pressures at home; the struggles.”

Florida Highway Patrol troopers and Miami-Dade Police Department officers are ready to arrest daredevils, whose sole intent is to take dangerous risks while showing off their skills on the road.

Florida law didn’t expressly forbid wheelies, a staple of basic motorcycle stunting, until 2008 when a new law required motorcyclists to “maintain both wheels on the ground at all times.” Violators must pay a $1,000 fine during a first offense, a $2,500 fine for a second offense and a third-degree felony charge punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine for the third offense.

Troopers are also reminding riders that it is illegal to operate dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles on public highways. Florida law also requires ATV riders to wear over-the-ankle boots, eye protection and a safety helmet.

Last year, Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies and MDPD officers towed dozens of ATVs and dirt bikes. Videos of riders taunting police officers who were outnumbered went viral on social media. FHP Lt. Robert Cannon, a spokesman for FHP, issued a stern warning during a news conference at the Miami-Dade Police Department headquarters in Doral.

“We’re going to be out with air support,” Cannon said. “There is no escaping air support. These bikes may outrun our vehicles. We are not going to chase you, but we will find you.”

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