Riders hit streets on MLK Day for ‘Wheels Up, Guns Down’

MIAMI (WSVN) - Dozens of motorbike and all-terrain vehicle riders took to the streets of South Florida for “Wheels Up, Guns Down,” an illegal and and dangerous Martin Luther King Jr. Day tradition.

Riders could be seen traveling through the streets of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, bobbing and weaving through traffic. Aerial cameras even captured some of them going into oncoming traffic.

Many come from across the country to take part in the unsanctioned event, which they said is meant to help bring an end to gun violence.

“Get out and ride. If you’re not about it, go home,” said a rider from Chicago who would not show his face. “It’s just the lifestyle we [expletive] live.”

The vehicles the riders use are prohibited on city streets, and many of the riders often do dangerous stunts, creating a recipe for disaster.

“I came out to have a good time and ride out with my people, man. Stay safe,” said a rider.

In the evening, one group of rowdy riders blocked Biscayne Boulevard during rush hour.

That same evening, a 14-year-old girl was taken to a hospital after an all-terrain vehicle she was riding on with another girl hit a Hyundai near Northwest 58th Street and 12th Avenue in Miami. She was taken to Jackson Memorial Hospital in stable condition.

Just before 6 p.m., 7News cameras captured a group of riders popping wheelies as they ran through a red light in Miami Gardens at Northwest 27th Avenue and 183rd Street.

Police blocked the road and let the bikers pass to prevent a crash.

Dashcam video in Northwest Miami-Dade showed riders weaving through city streets.

One rider got into an accident in Opa-locka, near 27th Avenue and Sesame Street, and several other riders had their vehicles confiscated.

Another group of riders in Miami started on 27th Avenue and 119th Street and made their way onto Gratigny Parkway. Before police could stop them at the exit, the riders turned around and drove the wrong way on the highway, eluding officers.

The drive began over the weekend, and several people were injured and arrested.

“The message should not be overshadowed by the dangers that are occurring out in the street. I am also for putting the guns down,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez.

Seventeen arrests have been made, over 72 bikes and ATVs have been impounded, four guns have been confiscated and dozens of tickets were written in Miami-Dade. Police also have extra patrols searching for more riders, adding they will also monitor social media.

Monday night, two men believed to be in involved in the “Wheels Up” event hopped the fence of a local tow yard to take back their confiscated vehicles, according to a yard representative.

In Broward County, three riders from New York were arrested in Hollywood.

Hollywood Police also tweeted out images of vehicles confiscated from an Airbnb. Most of the vehicles were unregistered. Among the vehicles were eight or nine ATVs, a Rolls-Royce and a stolen trailer.

In Dania Beach, another rider was arrested after he fell when he hit the median. Most of the vehicles in this area were also brought to Mac’s Towing Service.

7Skyforce flew overhead near Fort Lauderdale as bikers were arrested.

“I don’t think they understand that what they’re doing is they’re putting not only themselves but so many people at risk. Most of them don’t even wear helmets. They don’t care,” said BSO Detective Donnard Huneke. “Truthfully, a respectful way of dealing with today is not what they’re doing.”

7News’ Brandon Beyer was able to ride along with Huneke as he patrolled the streets.

The BSO detective spent Monday following the riders from a safe distance. In one case, he even blocked traffic and hopped out of his car as bikers turned around to avoid him.

“You put as many people out on the road as you can, you try to deter them,” said Huneke. “You try to stop it before it starts, but if you have a big enough pack, and you have enough officers, you can put the officers in strategic positions to where you bottleneck traffic.”

Florida Highway Patrol had over 100 troopers on the road and posted cruisers at most major intersections ready to block entrances if necessary.

Riders arrested were taken to jail and their bikes were impounded. Riders may or may not be able to get their bikes back. “If it goes until midnight, then it goes until midnight. If it stops at 5 p.m., it stops at 5 p.m. It all depends on these guys riding,” said tow truck driver Clayton Herb.

BSO said they have made 14 arrests and confiscated 20 unauthorized vehicles.

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