BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Police say those riding dirt bikes are terrorizing Baltimore and they’re trying new tactics to get inside the groups and get them off the streets—but one high-profile rider says that’s the wrong focus.
Mike Hellgren spoke to one of the young men who starred in the movie “12 O’Clock Boys.”
The documentary brought worldwide attention to Baltimore’s dirt bike culture but police still believe the bikes—which are frequent sights on Baltimore’s streets in nice weather—are dangerous. They’re illegal and officers plan a new crackdown and will use Twitter and Facebook to target riders.
“The monitoring of social media, the monitoring of large gatherings, the ability to go in and disrupt those is a new tactic for us,” said Lt. Eric Kowalczyk.
“Pug” Ford, one of the stars of “12 O’Clock Boys,” says the bikes keep young people out of trouble. The 16-year-old claims police chased him on his bike and Tased him earlier this year; he still walks with crutches.
“There’s three options you can do: sell drugs, ride bikes or shoot each other,” he said.
Pug’s mom says the focus shouldn’t be on the bikes.
“You need to be worried about murders. The crime rate is high and it’s not on dirt bikes; it’s on guns,” said Coco Brown.
Dirt bikes have been illegal in the city for 14 years. Baltimore confiscates more than 300 every year.
WJZ has chronicled the issue, including neighborhood groups who have long fought against the swarms of dirt bikers who, at times, block traffic and flout the law.
Authorities say they can easily and seriously injure themselves and others.
“Dirt bikes are terrorizing certain parts of our community. We’re not going to allow that to continue. We’re going to use every tool at our disposal,” said Kowalczyk.
Long-time riders believe, crackdown or not, bikes aren’t going away in Baltimore.
“We’re not trying to hurt nobody. We’re just trying to have fun,” Ford said.
“They can crack it down but it’s only going to be cracked down for about a week because they’re still going to ride,” Brown said.
Police have confiscated 80 bikes so far this year.
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