Law enforcement provides bike ride alternative ahead of unsanctioned Wheels Up, Guns Down event

DORAL, FLA. (WSVN) - Law enforcement is gearing up for what has become a dangerous annual event in South Florida.

For several years, demonstrators on ATVs and motorcycles have designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day for their rolling protest: Wheels Up, Guns Down.

In Miami-Dade County, different representatives from various law enforcement agencies came together on Thursday to put new measures in place ahead of the event.

“We ask those that will be traveling this weekend to please enjoy the holidays, but please do so in a very safe and prudent manner,” one officer said.

Police are urging people not to use ATVs and other off-road vehicles on streets ahead of the holiday weekend.

“The illegal operation of motorcycles, dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles on highways or roadways throughout South Florida is extremely dangerous and hazardous to public safety,” said Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Alex Camacho.

Each year, thousands hit the streets for the protest.

What may have started as a way to get a peaceful message across has become a downright dangerous and sometimes deadly tradition.

“The hardest part of our job in the Traffic-Homicide Division is to notify a family member that their loved one is fighting for their life at a local trauma hospital or that their family member has lost their life,” an officer said.

Instead of being in an unsanctioned event, which often leads to chaos, police are asking people to take part in a mass community bike ride on Jan. 18.

“Even if we can’t have a parade, even if we can’t have the festivities, we will be there together, united,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez. “Law enforcement and the community celebrating, setting the example for our youth.”

Those who want to take part in the sanctioned alternative should start lining up at Charles Hadley Park, 1350 NW 50th St., at 8:30 a.m.

The ride will begin at 9:30 a.m., and face masks are required.

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