Updated at 4:05 pm. E.T. on Sept. 11, 2013
A group called the 2 Million Bikers to DC is leading a parade of motorcycles through the nation’s capital today to commemorate 9/11 victims and military veterans. “We’re here for 9-11,” the national ride coordinator Belinda Bee told the Washington Times. Since Tuesday, riders from around the country have been tweeting photos of their journey to Washington (hashtag #2MBikers), with early pictures and videos showing thousands of bikes overflowing out of rest stops and parking lots on their way to the event. A Facebook page devoted to the ride is also being updated with highlights.
If this sounds like the type of event that would never receive approval from the city, you’d be correct. U.S. News reports that the group initially asked for a permit to demonstrate around the National Mall. However, the National Park Service denied the request, saying that such a large gathering of motorcycles would cause “a severe disruption of traffic” and 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 is happening — legally — without the permit.
A second, more controversial purpose of the ride is to protest a permit issued to another group — the American Muslim Political Action Committee — to rally on the National Mall today to protest public backlash against Muslims since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Called the Million American March Against Fear, it’s being billed as: “A Historic Event for Solidarity of Humanity to Establish Peace, harmony and Justice through a Civil Rights Movement.”
The bikers aren’t planning to confront the Muslim group, however. “We are going to have a peaceful ride,” Bee told the Times.
An aerial picture of all the patriots who made it to DC. God Bless #2MBikers #alwaysremember pic.twitter.com/g1Jlbr0Y5R
— Jennifer (@jensan1332) September 11, 2013
#ThisIsWhatFreedomLooksLike It’s kinda hard not to have a lump in your throat as you witness historic #2MBikers today pic.twitter.com/AqRsesnEym
— Simply Sara (@SimplySara22) September 11, 2013
DC says there are roughly 880,000 #2MBikers in DC today! Oh Yeah baby, Ride On pic.twitter.com/NQeFAPB7DD
— Jane (@jusjane6060) September 11, 2013
With flags flying, bikers head down 3rd Street through the National Mall. pic.twitter.com/h9QZxCc3Xo
— mollenbeckWTOP (@mollenbeckWTOP) September 11, 2013