‘Wheels Up, Guns Down’ riders hit South Florida streets for annual unsanctioned bike ride

MIAMI (WSVN) - Dozens of people on dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles are on the move across South Florida streets as part of the annual “Wheels Up, Guns Down” protests.

Over a dozen bikers have already been arrested across both Miami-Dade and Broward counties as the vehicles are not street legal and the riders show little regard for the laws of the road.

A large group of bikers were spotted gathered on the parking lot of Miami Dade College North Campus, Monday afternoon.

“Bike life is a way of life to me that I love and have a passion for,” one rider said. “It’s just a sport to me. I came all the way down from Kentucky. I come to represent the bike life movement.”

“The only thing that’s dangerous is when we get chased by the police,” another rider added. “That’s the dangerous part.”

Dramatic video captured officers swarming the parking lot and riders attempting to flee on foot before they were taken into custody.

“They have been arrested,” said Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta. “I’m still waiting to see what the charges are, but they have been arrested. This is gonna go on throughout the night. We have officers all over the county. We have all of our resources in place.”

Zabaleta said six riders were detained.

7News cameras captured a tow truck in the process of removing two vehicles from the scene.

A short time later, the riders came across a tow truck being escorted by police and rode beside it on Northwest 119th Street and North Miami Avenue. It’s unclear if it was the same truck from the scene at MDC.

Another group was also seen going north on Southwest 27th Avenue toward Little Havana.

“I ain’t ever gonna stop. They can’t stop us. There’s too many of us, it’s what we do,” said one rider. “We’re just out here trying to ride and have fun. We’re about that bike life and that’s it.”

Police set up barriers made up of cruisers along Northwest 54th Street and 35th Avenue as they tried to prevent riders from coming by an area officials said has seen a lot of bike activity in the past.

Some of the riders were performing dangerous stunts at a high rate of speed.

“You know what?” one rider said. “You get up. You can slip and fall off your bed, and it could all be over right there, so you know what? I’m gonna die doing what I love.”

At one intersection, a rider on an ATV could be seen kicking the side of an SUV.

Over in Hallandale Beach, a Lexus was hit by one of the riders. Damage could be seen on the right side of the car that had been trying to make a legal right turn.

7News spoke with the man behind the wheel of the car.

“I turned. Next thing I know some guy is coming 50, 60 miles per hour up on a wheelie,” he said, “turned to my right real quick, like a blue flash flashes into me. I freak out. I’m making sure he’s OK. Luckily, he hit the passenger side of my car, so I was OK.”

The rider responsible, however, took off after the driver got out of the car.

“I hopped out trying to make sure he’s OK,” the driver continued. “I’m then surrounded by 20 to 30 different motorcycles, ATVs. Not the most savory human beings come over to me saying, ‘Nothing happened, bro, you straight, you straight.’ All of them come running to their friend, trying to help him up, and then they get him up saying, ‘Get out of here, bro. Get out of here bro, get on I-95.'”

In Lauderhill, fire rescue units were called to the scene of an ATV crash near State Road 7 and Northwest 26th Street.

Officials said an ATV rider was transported in critical condition to Broward Health Medical Center.

Just before 4 p.m., 7Skyforce HD captured a Miami-Dade Police cruiser attempting to block a motorcycle carrying two people from passing near North Miami Avenue and 125th Street.

The biker managed to escape.

The Florida Highway Patrol blocked off a major roadway using cones near Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

“FHP and local law enforcement will have a zero tolerance approach toward illegal driving activities this holiday period,” FHP Lt. Alejandro Camacho said.

7News took part in a ride-along with BSO deputies on Monday as they were on the lookout for riders breaking the law.

They pulled over two women from Georgia in a pickup truck at County Line Road and University Drive.

Officials said the driver of the vehicle rode behind bikers to record video.

Deputies discovered one of the women had an unregistered gun.

She was arrested and charged with being in possession of a concealed weapon.

Groups of riders have been hitting the streets since Friday night, and as of 10 p.m. Monday, since then, Miami-Dade Police officials said they have towed away a total of 33 ATVs and dirt bikes, confiscated four firearms and arrested 14 people.

Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies, meanwhile, said they seized 13 ATVs and dirt bikes, confiscated two firearms and arrested 11 people on Monday alone.

The annual event, which police have said is not in any way sanctioned in any official way, has taken place across South Florida in previous years over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend to protest gun violence.

Law enforcement agencies across South Florida came together in an effort to curb the illegal event.

BSO’s new Sheriff Gregory Tony met with deputies to go over their plan to combat the chaos.

Authorities advised drivers to observe caution at stoplights and intersections throughout the long weekend.

On Tuesday morning, Miami-Dade Police released updated numbers regarding the unsanctioned bike ride including nine felony arrests and 33 dirt bikes and ATVs impounded.

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