Fact Check

2 Million Bikers to DC

Was the '2 Millions Bikers to DC' group denied a 'no-stop' permit for a Washington ride-through on 11 September 2013?

Published Sept. 9, 2013

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The "2 Millions Bikers to DC" group has been denied a "no-stop" permit for a Washington ride-through on 11 September 2013.

In February 2013, the American Muslim Political Action Committee (AMPAC) announced they would be staging an event called the "Million Muslim March," which they hoped would gather one million people in Washington, D.C., on 11 September 2013, the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, to press the U.S. government into revealing "the truth" about those attacks:

The American Muslim Political Action Committee is hosting what it hopes will be a gathering of one million people in Washington, D.C., on the 12th anniversary of 9/11 to urge the government to reveal "the truth" about the attacks."We want to hold President Obama accountable for his empty promises of creating a transparent government," march organizer Isa Hodge said. "What exactly have we spent all our money, lost lives and taken lives for? The entire record of the 9/11 Commission has never been released."

Protesters will also denounce "FBI traps," "illegal tapping and surveilling of Muslim Americans" and "media propaganda making the word terrorist synonymous with Muslim," he said.

After negative public reaction, AMPAC changed the name of their event to the "Million American March Against Fear" (MAMAF), which they describe as offering the following events:

We invite you to stand with and join us to Rally Against Fear at 12 noon on The National Mall, then the Congress, the Supreme Court, and the White House, to hold truth to power at the three major branches of American government.We ask all individuals and organizations working for peace to attend this collective action to tell our Government leaders we want transparency and policies of peace. In the past 12 years since 9/11 the United States government as failed to protect and promote Constitutional liberties and human life, here and abroad. We feel that accountability in government has been ignored and the time has arrived to collectively speak truth to power.

Speaking will be experts and individuals on the lack of transparency and questions plaguing 9/11, steady erosion of domestic civil liberties, drone policy and the very dire effect of these on of plight of American Muslims here at home, and Muslim communities globally in the scope of U.S. imperialism, and the modern face of resistance to unmanned aerial surveillance and warfare.

In August 2013, motorcyclists began organizing a "2 Million Bikers to DC counter-event, which they hoped would bring even larger numbers of bikers on a Washington ride-through to "pay tribute and offer respect to those that lost their lives on that day 12 years ago, and to salute our troops engaged in the War on Terror":

Example:   [Collected via Facebook, September 2013]

I keep seeing posts on Face Book saying that President Obama denied bikers a permit to ride in Washington, D.C. on 9/11 but did allow
Muslims the same privilege. True or false?

However, the National Park Service (NPS) has jurisdiction over the issue, and the NPS has declined to issue the group a "no stop" permit that would facilitate their ride through Washington by granting them a police escort and a waiver for red lights, stop signs and other traffic signals. The NPS cited traffic issues and manpower requirements in denying the request:

The National Park Services confirms that it has denied the permit for the ride-only, non-stop event after looking at it in terms of disruption and resource management.NPS spokeswoman Carol Johnson said the group's permit application was examined like all others, using the Code of Federal Regulations. Johnson said the group had asked to ride through what's called Memorial Core, near the Memorial Bridge, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. with 2,000 motorcyclists. NPS decided that the large ride would require closures of important roadways, block access to Rock Creek and George Washington Parkways and would cause a severe disruption to traffic. A police escort would also be needed.

"It's just a case of what they asked for in the permit applications," Johnson said.

The Metropolitan Police Department [said] the group was asked to move its ride to a weekend, when it would be less disruptive to traffic.

"Solely to facilitate the speed and timeliness of the participants in itself does not fall within the definition of a First Amendment assembly, said police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump.

The permits in question were under the purview of the NPS and the Metropolitan Police Department, not President Obama himself. The lack of a permit did not prevent bikers from riding through Washington on the 9/11 anniversary; the riders just weren't exempt from traffic laws and therefore couldn't navigate through the city nearly as quickly as they could have if they had been issued a "no-stop" permit.

The two cases were dissimilar in that AMPAC requested a permit for a smaller gathering in a fixed location and submitted their request several months in advance; the 2 Million Bikers group requested a no-stop permit for a much larger group involving miles of roadways, street closures, and police escorts, and they didn't submit their request for a no-stop permit until a few weeks before the event, as documented by this 30 August 2013 Facebook post:

Neither group came anywhere close to the "millions" of participants referenced in their event names: the Million American March Against Fear was said to have drawn between a few dozen and a few hundred people, while news accounts cited estimates for the 2 Million Bikers to DC event at somewhere between 10,000 and 75,000 participants.

Many Internet postings later claimed that Washington police had estimated the 2 Million Bikers event turnout at between 800,000 and 1.2 million participants, but we have found no documentation (other than repetition of rumor) confirming that local police made any such estimate, and when we queried the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) about the issue, the Director of the MPD's Office of Communications confirmed that "the Metropolitan Police Department does not provide crowd estimates."


    Brenzing, Bob.   "10,000 Bikers Circle Washington for 9/11."     WUSA-TV [Washington].   12 September 2013.

    Davidson, Jacob.   "2 Million Bikers to DC: Motorcycle Riders Roll into Washington."     Time.   11 September 2013.

    Lee, Caroline.   "'Million Muslim March' 2013 Has Low Turnout, Lost in Sea of Motorcyclists."     UPI.   11 September 2013.

    Somers, Meredith.   "Bikers, Muslims Pledge Return to D.C. Next 9/11."     The Washington Times.   11 September 2013.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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