Law enforcement predictions about a low turnout at this year’s “Wheels Up, Guns Down” motorcycle and all-terrain-vehicle rallies appear to have panned out, with arrests and incidents significantly lower than last year, according to numbers police released Monday afternoon.
“Thus far, the numbers are much lower than last year’s holiday weekend,” said Detective Argemis Colome, a Miami-Dade police spokesman.
The event, which sees mostly young Black men taking to streets and highways nationwide on motorcycles, ATVs and dirt bikes over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, started in 2014 to honor a famous Philadelphia dirt biker, Kyrell Tyler, who was killed. Seven years later, his murder is still unsolved.
While celebratory and mostly peaceful, Wheels Up, Guns Down has become a headache for law enforcement who view it as a danger to drivers and pedestrians. Many residents also complain because in years past, many of the riders would block or slow traffic on major roads like Florida’s Turnpike and Interstate 95.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest that culminated with the pro-Trump riots in Washington earlier this month and the canceled Martin Luther King Jr. parade in the city of Miami, police were expecting a lower turnout of riders this year.
It looks like they were correct.
Last year, Miami-Dade County police made 11 felony arrests, four misdemeanor arrests and 13 traffic-related arrests. They also impounded 34 vehicles.
By contrast, police statistics released Monday night show police impounded 10 vehicles, made seven felony arrests, four misdemeanor arrests and four traffic-related arrests.
While police issued 41 traffic citations during the 2020 event, this year that number was 23. Gun confiscations, however, were up slightly this year — four — compared with two last year.