FORT LAUDERDALE - The chaotic ride on Monday of more than 100 cyclists, motorcyclists and ATV drivers along highways in Broward and Miami Dade counties is prompting elected officials to question the group's actions and call for better coordination between police departments .
"We were stunned," said Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, speaking with the city administrator as he watched live television footage of commuters traveling the wrong way into northbound traffic on Interstate 95, running red lights, doing wheelies and photographing each other's antics. . The accidents sent at least two cyclists to hospitals.
“I was a little disappointed that there wasn't better communication and coordination between law enforcement in both counties about who was involved, where they were going, when and where they stopped, and how to resolve this issue in the coming year,” Seiler said. . "It's an unacceptable situation."
Some police departments arrested and issued fines; others, like the Broward Sheriff's Office, took little or no action, and that was on purpose.
"We had no traffic deaths, mass arrests, riots or use of force," said Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward. "For us to take a non-aggressive stance, use discretion and restraint, I'm very proud of our leaders and congressmen for doing that, especially in Pompano [Beach], where we've had the most traffic to downtown Broward."
But that's not to say police leaders want to do it again next year; several, including Israel, said they would work to prevent another mass trip.
Was it a celebration of non-violence, mass chaos or civil disobedience? It depends who you ask.
Some of the motorcyclists told the media that they were promoting non-violence and operating under the slogan "Motorcycles Up, Guns Down", on the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. National Holiday.
But tell that to motorists on local streets in Davie, Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale and along State Highway 7 whose trips have been brought to a standstill by motorcycle stunts.
Police departments in both counties said state law and agency policies prohibit pursuits in circumstances that do not involve a crime, such as kidnapping or murder, and were forced to allow most passengers to travel unrestricted.
Furthermore, police said, setting up a barricade on major roads would be more dangerous than allowing cyclists to briefly take over sections of the road.
“There would be people crossing bridges without knowing that traffic stopped and accidents happen”, said the sergeant. Mark Wysocky of the Florida Highway Patrol. "That's the same reason we don't go after them, for public safety and not to make a bad situation worse."
It was the second consecutive year that parades and events held to remember King were overshadowed by "various groups of people," said Miami-Dade Police Detective Marjorie Eloi.
“Under the pretext of celebrating the MLK holiday, these groups took to our streets in all-terrain vehicles, causing traffic hazards that endangered themselves and the public,” Eloi said in a press release.
Two men were injured in accidents on Monday and are believed to be members of the Bikes Up, Guns Down group.
One with a possible head injury was found on the floor in the 1200 block of Northwest 22nd Avenue in unincorporated Miami-Dade County. He was in critical condition when he was transferred to Jackson Memorial Hospital; His condition remained unchanged on Tuesday.
"There were no bicycles or anything else left at the scene, so it's unclear exactly how he was injured," said Robin Pinkard, Miami-Dade police detective. "He was wearing motorcycle gloves so we assume he was on a motorcycle or on the back of a motorcycle or some type of motor vehicle."
In Fort Lauderdale, a man riding a motorcycle on Sistrunk Boulevard was trying to turn onto Northwest 12th Avenue when he collided with a car, Detective Tracy Figone said.
"There were minor injuries," Figone said. "The motorcycle driver was taken to the hospital because he was ejected... The vehicle had damage to the front and sides."
Motorcyclists drove through the city, but did not stop. There were no arrests, Figone said.
Miami-Dade police arrested 28 people, including a 19-year-old wanted on suspicion of attempted murder. Miami-Dade officials also towed 59 bicycles or ATVs and three cars. A machine gun was among the five firearms seized, Eloi said.
Miami City Police made an arrest and towed 15 bicycles, a spokeswoman said.
Miami Gardens police seized 12 bicycles, arrested a cyclist and named several others, said Officer Doretha Hall.
"There is no exact route," Hall said. "They go from Dade to Broward. They go everywhere. It's sport bikes, ATVs, dirt bikes, scooters, anything with an engine and two wheels, they just come together."
Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper said the Bikes Up, Guns Down protest was about getting attention.
"I think it's the wrong attention, but a good cause," Cooper said. "Hallandale Beach Boulevard was closed all Monday morning for our MLK celebration. If you would like to pass through our city to peacefully demonstrate, I would appreciate it if you would coordinate with our Chief of Police. want to speak out against armed violence". ."
She said "the damage and lack of passenger safety ... is intolerable and we need to address this from a public safety point of view".
Hallandale Beach Police Chief Dwayne Flournoy, also president of thebroward countyThe Association of Chiefs of Police said the group would encourage interdepartmental planning ahead of next year's trip.
"I think, for lack of a better word, they were one against us this year," said Flournoy. "Last year they didn't go very far in Broward, and maybe turned around on Hollywood Boulevard. They were just as prevalent in Broward this year as they were in Dade."
Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert said "there must be a better way" to promote nonviolence.
"God forbid anything serious happens to one of the cyclists or anyone else on the road during this demonstration," Gilbert said in an email. “There has to be a way for them to show up and for others to stay safe.”
Obroward countyThe emergency dispatch system's three call centers "collectively received 61 911 calls related to mass travel," said Brett Bayag, acting director of the Office of Regional Communications and Technology.
Around 4pm. About 150 to 200 passengers passed through downtown Hollywood, traveling from the Florida Turnpike on Hollywood Boulevard east to North 28th Avenue, where they stopped to refuel, Police Officer Meredith Elrich said.
Canwright Dawkins, an employee at the Shell station, said that when dozens of passengers stopped to buy gas, they behaved well. At the intersection of 2800 Hollywood Blvd., he said cyclists took action.
"It was a lot of fun," Dawkins said. "Everyone in the neighborhood was taking pictures with their cell phones, from the other businesses, they stopped to look. [The cyclists] did not commit any type of vandalism. Everything was fine."
Hollywood police said their arrival, in response to cyclists running red lights and driving in the wrong lane, sent many of the cyclists westward on I-95, where the stunts continued, according to a police report.
An 18-year-old Miami cyclist was on the side of an I-95 off-ramp and was arrested by Hollywood police for shoplifting while riding a dirt bike stolen from Miami Gardens in 2014.
Elrich, a spokesman for the agency, said it was characterizing the mass march as civil disobedience, with some traffic violations.
"We don't feel like anything went wrong," Elrich said. "During the limited time they were in the city of Hollywood, there were no vehicle accidents or injuries to the general public, law enforcement or passengers."
The Florida Highway Patrol cited an ATV driver on Interstate 95 and towed his vehicle, Wysocky said.
In Davie, motorists called State Road 7 police to complain, Capt. Dale Engle said. The convoy was also seen traveling on University Drive near Griffin Road before dispersing.
"We monitored them as they drove through town, and they were here for less than an hour," Captain Dale Engle said. "We would have loved to have done something. Department policy prevents us from chasing vehicles for anything other than a felony... involving the use of threats of physical force or violence against anyone."
Like many other police leaders who spoke on Tuesday, he hopes plans will be made to deal with future mass walkouts.
Israel, the Broward sheriff, said Monday's trip was "a Dade County event. Our intelligence people had no information that anyone was coming tobroward county."
As the mile-long journey involved law-abiding drivers and civic leaders, he said, "A group of vehicles got together and made the roads unsafe. We weren't happy with the way they were driving. But it wasn't a violation of the Motherland." Security. It was a bunch of kids driving inappropriately, and we're going to do something about it."
That will include what he called "strategic coordination" and planning between cities, law enforcement agencies, including the Florida Highway Patrol, and state attorneys' offices in Broward and Miami-Dade counties "to try to make sure that doesn't happen." in the next year ."
That will include monitoring social media to "make sure you nip it in the bud," Israel said. And if the bikers show up anyway, he said helicopters could film them from above and then arrest them.
At Midtown Towing in Miami's Liberty City neighborhood, youths arrived on Tuesday to claim confiscated motorcycles and ATVs.
Among them was Johnny Mobley, 38, who said Miami Gardens police took his pink and black Kawasaki motorcycle on Monday night as he and several other city bikers stopped at a gas station to take pictures.
"We weren't even walking," Mobley said. "He didn't give me a quote, he just said they have a 'zero tolerance' policy."
Mobley said he and others from the Fort Pierce area came south for the trip "because it's a good thing to do. Now, with all this killing, that's a positive thing."
When asked about cyclists who ignore traffic laws or go the wrong way on streets and highways, Mobley said, "It's wrong if they do. You have to ride the right way."
Mobley said towing and impound fees, plus the cost of staying overnight in Miami, can run $300 or more.
He and four others loaded four motorcycles and an ATV onto a trailer for their trip back north to Fort Pierce.
A tow yard manager who declined to be named said several law enforcement agencies brought in about 30 motorcycles and ATVs on Monday. He said the average cost to repossess a vehicle was between $100 and $200.
Seiler, from Fort Lauderdale, said he appreciated the group's motto of "Bikes Up, Guns Down".
"It's a wonderful message," Seiler said. "I congratulate you on the guns. But two wrongs don't make a right. A motor vehicle used illegally or without a permit can be just as dangerous as a gun."
ltrischitta@Tribune.com, 954-356-4233 o Twitter @LindaTrischitta