MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Miami Beach police arrested five people overnight and all are facing charges related to reckless driving or resisting or eluding police. The men were reportedly part of the annual rideout where groups of ATV and dirt bike riders take to the streets on Martin Luther King Day weekend.
The Wheels Up, Guns Down event, as it’s called, loosely honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy and his message of nonviolence, but over the years it has devolved into a celebration of lawlessness.
Miami Beach police said those arrested, Ozzie Ruiz, 21, of Lowell, Mass., Nathan F. Riddell, 18, of North Andover, Mass., Kirk Swaby, 35, of Miami, Julian St. George Cousins, 28, of Miami, and Xavier Pina, 35, of Vineland, N.J., were part of a group who were in the eastbound and westbound lanes of Macarthur Causeway. Police said the riders were “swerving in and out of lanes . . .in an unsafe and reckless manner.” Police also said they saw a blue dirt bike collide into the rear of a black Ford Expedition. The rider of the dirt bike, later identified as Ruiz, then left the crash scene. When officers approached Ruiz, they said he dropped the bike and began running eastbound. Officers caught up with Ruiz and arrested him.
Some of the riders who were also charged were driving against traffic, speeding, or when police attempted to stop them, they fled.
Miami Beach police said eight vehicles that were not street legal were seized during the Macarthur Causeway incident. The scene led to several hours of the roadway being shut down Saturday night.
“We will be conducting a zero-tolerance operation as this event is non-sanctioned, it’s illegal, and it’s a threat to public safety,” said Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony.
Earlier Saturday, about a hundred riders gathered at the Speedway gas station on Northwest 27th Avenue in Miami Gardens.
One man Local 10 spoke to said that the riders come from everywhere to take to South Florida streets for the annual rideout. “Philadelphia, Maryland, North Carolina, you name it,” he said, as was evident in the different cities listed on the arrest reports of those charged on Saturday night.
Florida law also requires ATV riders to wear over-the-ankle boots, eye protection and a safety helmet.
“We will be doing a high visibility patrol and we will be doing enforcement,” Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo “Freddy” Ramirez said.