MIAMI (WSVN) - For hours on Monday, a large group of ATV riders and dirt bikers weaved through South Florida roads and even major highways.
In the chance that the riders could be stopped, they had one unifying message: bikes up, guns down. The group, peaking at what seemed to be about one hundred riders, were seen popping wheelies, performing other stunts and creating traffic back-ups or dangerous situations on the streets. Participants in the ride said they organized it on social media for months.
According to one rider, the demonstration was intended to celebrate Martin Luther King Day. "We came down here for the Martin Luther King Day celebration, a bunch a guys as far as brothers and my whole neighborhood, mixed races and whatnot, " said Mar Kel. "We tried to get together to do a peaceful ride through the city. Yeah it's a little disruptful to the normal traffic, but we're just trying to have some fun and let them know it's a movement: bikes up, guns down. No violence at all."
Another rider mirrored his sentiments. He said the scene was to encourage people to have fun without participating in violence. "Put the guns down and come together, " he said.
Many of the riders met at Northwest 72nd Street and 10th Avenue before taking off. Many of those riders were visiting Miami and said they were just trying to have fun. "We came down to show Miami love. It ain't like it's a crime. It ain't no crime at all, " one biker said.
Some bystanders were not bothered by the scene. "People just having fun, just having fun on their day off. That's it, " one man said in Northwest Miami-Dade.
Another man said the ride was "definitely not safe." Growing crowds watched from sidewalks on a large chunk of Northwest 22nd Avenue between Northwest 56th and Northwest 72nd streets. Police tried to slow things down, but were sometimes unsuccessful. One driver did a full 360-degree turn at an intersection. "Have fun. Remembrance!" he said to TV cameras.
The large group rode all over Miami-Dade County. Earlier Monday afternoon, they headed westbound on MacArthur Causeway, where Miami Beach Police attempted to shut down the causeway but did not. The group zipped up Interstate 95, Biscayne Boulevard, stopped at local gas stations and even took a ride up to Hollywood.
According to Miami Police, officers did not chase riders because their offenses only accounted for traffic violations. City of Miami Police and Miami Beach Police issued BOLOs to the public for the riders who were being disruptive, popping wheelies and speeding through the roads. But the police proved unable to calm the movement in the streets due to a policy for traffic stops. Miami Police Department officer Frederica Burden said the policy is a safety precaution. "When we do initiate a traffic stop, and they don't stop, our police policy is we do not chase, " Burden said.
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