A few dozen demonstrators attending a rally on the National Mall, once billed as the “Million Muslim March”, were vastly outnumbered by hundreds of thousands of motorcycle riders from across America participating in the “2 Million Bikers to DC” ride to honor September 11 victims and to counter the pro-Muslim rally that many said was inappropriate for such a solemn day in U.S. history.
The American Muslim Political Action Committee scheduled the rally to draw attention to what it said is an unfair and ongoing fear of Muslims after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Among the bikers, however, the provocatively scheduled rally was considered an insult to the nearly 3,000 people who died on Sept. 11, 2001, when Islamic terrorists hijacked three commercial jets and crashed them into the World Trade Center buildings in New York and the Pentagon in Arlington. Another hijacked plane headed for Washington, D.C. crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Though the biker gathering fell short of 2 million strong, some estimates ran as high as 880,000 riders, and “What began as an idea on Facebook quickly turned into a national movement thanks to social media and dedicated bikers from around the nation,” wrote the Examiner.com; and as bikers from as far away as the west coast began their journey to D.C., Twitter lit up with photos and videos showing thousands of bikes overflowing out of rest stops and parking lots as the hastily organized ride gained momentum.
So many turned out that plans to have them ride through the streets of the Capital had to be changed, particularly in light of the fact that local authorities denied a permit that would have provided the riders a police escort through traffic – a sore spot with organizers who believe the denial was for political purposes.
“We didn’t need a permit in the first place,” National Event Organizer Belinda Bee told a local Fox News station, citing 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 on — legally — without the permit, although the group apologized to the public that “What could have been a one or two hour ride through” tied up Beltway traffic from early morning into the afternoon.
Co-founders Belinda Bee and “Top Fuel” Bill Williamson credited everyone who helped with the unprecedented success of this year’s ride, and promised another ride next year, “and every year for September 11.”
“Sending out a BIG Thank You to all who supported and cheered on the 2 Million Bikers to DC ride,” e-mailed Angel Richardson, a member of the NCOM Board of Directors who attended the hugely successful event; “We have a kick ass bunch of patriots!”
reprinted from AIM and NCOM news