Their parade permit to stage a ride through Washington D.C. was denied. But they came anyway... More than 880,000 bikers rolled into Washington D.C. today from across the country, to honor the victims of 9/11. They rolled through D.C. tweeting hash tags #2MBikers #alwaysremember.
|With flags flying, the bikers head down 3rd Street through the National Mall, Washington D.C. 9/11/2013|
The group called the 2 Million Bikers to DC led a parade of motorcycles through the nation's capitol to remember the people who died in the 9/11 terror attacks and the soldiers who subsequently fought al-Qaida in Afghanistan. It was announced in August, after a September 11 demonstration originally billed as the "Million Muslim March" -- but renamed the "Million American March Against Fear" in February -- received widespread media coverage.
The second, more controversial purpose of the ride was to protest a permit issued to the other group, The American Muslim Political Action Committee, organizers of the Million Muslim March.
The protest rally on the National Mall was billed as "a historical event for solidarity of humanity to establish peace, harmony and justice through a civil rights movement" set to protest public backlash against Muslims since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
A few dozen protesters turned up for the Million Muslim March at the National Mall and they were heckled from the street. The tiny demonstration was vastly outnumbers by a Christian group objecting to their event and the counter-protest of roughly 880,000 motorcycle riders honoring September 11 victims and veterans.
The bikers vowed to have a "peaceful ride" and they were true to their word. The national ride's coordinator, Belinda Bee says the ride will be organized every year. "We are not going away, and there is no law against riding on the public streets that we paid for with our tax dollars."
The 2 Million Bikers were turned down for a permit to demonstrate around the National Mall by the National Park Service. Such a large gathering of motorcycles on a weekday would cause "a severe disruption of traffic" and require more police than D.C. could provide.
However, according to D.C. law, "it shall not be an offense to assemble or parade on a District street, sidewalk, or other public way, or in a District park, without having provided notice or obtained an approved assembly plan." So the event went forward -- legally -- without a permit.
The bikers vow to be back next year and every year on September 11. With a permit and police escort the parade ride might have been finished in three hours. But the determined bikers, stopping for traffic lights and obeying all road signs moved through D.C. at high noon, down 3rd Street at the National Mall, tangling D.C. traffic for about 6 hours.
|Michael Knepper's “Heroes” depicts a group of riders going to ground zero. The number 343 |
signifying the number of firefighters who died that day while trying to get
thousands out of the burning buildings in NYC.
More than half a million bike riders have been riding through Washington D.C. over the Memorial Day weekend for the past 26 years, since just after the Vietnam War to honor combat veterans and to protest the U.S. Government's inaction in bringing home all soldiers missing in action in foreign countries.
An estimated 500,000 to 900,000 bike riders join the annual Rolling Thunder Memorial Day Weekend Ride Through Washington D.C. that begins in California and Texas, and picks up riders through the Southern States and the Midwest before joining riders in the Northeast to ride into Washington D.C.