ATV Riders, Bikers Hit South Florida Streets for ‘MLK Ride Out'

Hundreds of ATV and bike riders ripped through South Florida's streets for MLK Ride Out

For the second year in a row dirt-bikes, all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles ripped through the streets and freeways of South Florida on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Footage showed hundreds of riders weaving in and out of traffic in Miami-Dade and Broward, with at least one serious injury reported in Fort Lauderdale.

Officers made at least two arrests and towed multiple motorcycles and ATVs throughout the day. They said they are continuing their traffic safety enforcement efforts.

Juan Perez, Deputy Director of MDPD, tweeted: "It is unfortunate that while Miami-Dade celebrates the life of a great leader, we are forced to arrest and seize off road bikes." He continued: "This recklessness cannot be tolerated. These stunts place too many residents in harm's way."

In Hollywood, police were dispatched to the Shell Gas Station at 2800 Hollywood Boulevard in reference to motorcyclists running red lights and driving in the opposite lanes of traffic.

When an officer arrived, he observed motorcyclists running red lights as well as doing wheelies, weaving back and fort in traffic. Police said when the motorcyclists spotted the officer, they began heading northbound on I-95.

Officers made contact with one motorcyclist, later identified as 18-year-old Kamari Gardner of Miami, who was on a 2003 Honda dirt bike, in reference to him not having a license plate on his vehicle. When asked for his drivers license, Gardner said he didn't have one. In addition, police said the bike had been stolen out of Miami Gardens.

Authorities said one motorcyclist crashed into a car on southbound I-95 at Northwest 103rd Street. They said he fell off his bike, got up and jumped on another motorcycle and fled the scene. His crashed motorcycle got pinned under the car. It's unknown whether he was injured. The person in the car wasn't hurt.

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Police reported that a man was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center after he was injured while riding a motorized bicycle. The man was wearing motorcycle gloves but it was unknown if he was part of the ride out group.

Law enforcement officers said they were on high alert this year for incidents similar to last year, when more than 500 bikers took to the streets following a Martin Luther King Jr. day parade in Liberty City. Miami Police told NBC 6 and Telemundo 51 that the group was attempting to provoke authorities into a chase and that they were refusing orders to stop.

"There was so many bikes and we can't just chase them all. We're not going to put our lives, their lives, and the lives of the public in danger," Trooper Joe Sanchez told NBC 6 during last year's ride. "We take into consideration the lives of people. In this case, you have motorists out there. You have them and if we chase them, then we put everybody’s lives in danger. So we set back to monitor the situation and that was the right decision for us to take."

This year, law enforcement officers have created a task force to address the riders, including departments in Miami, Miami Gardens, Opa-locka and Florida Highway Patrol. There will also be help from officers in the sky.

Just as last year, there will be no chasing, but officers will try to stop riders who are driving recklessly.

"Yes it is illegal, it is a violation and we will attempt to stop them. And if they're stopped, they will be arrested or the vehicles will be towed or ticketed," said Major Ricky Carter of Miami-Dade Police.

Sunday night, police confiscated an ATV after a group of riders met in the area of Northwest 199th and 22nd Avenue.

Last year's ride appeared to be organized on social media using the hashtag #miamibikelife on Instagram. Some came from as far away as Washington, D.C. to take part in the ride.

According to Instagram posts, the group's aim was to make a statement about police brutality and to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr.

At least one veteran of the Civil Rights movement, Professor Marvin Dunn, called the stunt the "dumbest way to honor the legacy" of Martin Luther King, Jr.

"If someone had asked me what is the dumbest way to honor the legacy of Dr. King, I would say, 'Get a hundred bikers, put them on I-95 at 70 miles an hour terrorizing the public.' That's the dumbest way you could possibly come up with to honor Dr. King. It was a stunt," Professor Dunn told NBC 6 during last year's ride.

At least three car accidents occurred as a result of the 2015 incident, but no injuries were reported.

Miami police issued a statement after last year's event, saying:

"There aren't any open charges on anyone unless independent action was taken by officers that may have stopped bikers on a traffic violation (s) and cited them. We do have a plan of action that is followed for each event that is held in the City of Miami and an after action report that is reviewed the commander of the event (sic). I am sure there will be contingency plans added to future plans of action in the event that we have this type of incident arise during one of our future events."

Police have been monitoring ride organizing activity on social media, and say that while they want people to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day, they urge people to do so safely.

Police said they were better prepared to respond this year if the event got out of hand.

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