‘This is your warning’: Authorities urge public not to participate in Wheels Up, Guns Down event

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - Florida Highway Patrol, the Broward Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies across the county are sending a warning to the Wheels Up, Guns Down riders ahead of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

At a media conference in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday, authorities said if people are out on a motorcycle, dirt bike or all terrain vehicle participating in the illegal event on Monday, you will get arrested.

“There is no warnings going to be given when we engage you,” said FHP Maj. Robert Chandler. “When we stop you, when we finally get you, you are going to go to jail. We are going to take your bike. You are going to get citations, and they’re pretty expensive traffic citations. It’s going to cost you a lot. This is your warning. What we’re doing today is your warning.”

Over the years, South Floridians have become familiar with the non-sanctioned Martin Luther King Jr. Day tradition. While most honor the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King with a holiday and a parade, a group of dirt bike and ATV riders take part in Wheels Up, Guns Down.

“When we execute our traffic infractions, we always find a gun out here,” Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony said. “There’s some hypocrisy behind some of these activities. It’s illegal, and it’s a threat to the public safety.”

Some years have larger turnouts than others, and there are participants who even come from out of state to participate in the unsanctioned event.

Law enforcement agencies throughout Miami-Dade and Broward counties will work together to crack down on the illegal riders.

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

“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,” Miami-Dade Police detective Jeffrey Childers said.

Drivers who find themselves surrounded by the bikers are advised by officials to let them go and to not engage with them.

“You can outrun us in a motorcycle. Eventually, you’re going to run out of gas, and you’re going to have to refuel, but you’re not going to outrun our aircraft,” Chandler said.

An organized bicycle ride will be held Monday in Miami at Charles Hadley Park. The ride will commence at 9:30 a.m. For more information on the organized bicycle ride, click here.

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