NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The bikers are back.
Videos uploaded to YouTube show at least a dozen bikers performing stunts in the middle of a Washington Heights street.
Bikers can be seen performing wheelies and donuts on motorbikes and at least one all-terrain vehicle outside the R.G. Ortiz Funeral Home at 190th Street and Broadway. The bikers can be seen in one video riding across both lanes of the street, effectively shutting down traffic.
City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, D-Washington Heights, and representatives from the funeral home said the incident caught on the video took place Sunday.
“In this occasion the mayhem went on for about 20-25 minutes,” one YouTube user wrote in the video’s description.
“It was basically cyclists just riding around,” witness Hal Levy told CBS 2’s Dick Brennan. “There was a lot of smoke coming up into the air right over here. And I saw the skidmarks on the street as I passed by afterwards. But a cop car drove down soon there afterwards, and they kind of just left.”
A manager at the funeral home told 1010 WINS the display was a “tribute” to the person whose funeral was going on inside, who was part of the biker group.
“First, I thought it was very offensive because it was next to the funeral home,” said neighbor Josh Noble, “but then realized it was maybe because of the funeral home, and it was something in rememberance of them.”
“I can’t imagine a more dangerous situation,” Jon-Marc McDonald told 1010 WINS. “I mean, these guys lost control. There were tons of people standing on the street. They could’ve mowed down any number of people.”
McDonald said the bikers had been a common sight in Washington Heights prior to a well-publicized attack on an SUV driver over the summer, but had stopped.
“They came back in December,” McDonald said. “The noise is incredible … 25 [motorcycles] that are basically in an echo chamber. But it also creates a sense of fear because you just don’t want to be around that. So it causes an emotional disturbance.”
Rodriguez said such disturbances could pose a threat to public safety.
“If a fire truck would be passing, they have to be waiting minutes?” he said.
McDonald said he did not see police respond to Sunday’s incident.
“The amazing thing about it is that there is a police precinct two blocks away, maybe not even two blocks away, on Broadway,” McDonald said. “So they do this kind of stuff with impunity.”
McDonald is demanding action from officials.
“The whole point of this is to stake their claim, terrorize, whatever, the neighborhood by making as much commotion as they can, and it’s out of hand,” McDonald said. “Something has to be done. If the police can’t pursue them while they’re on their motorcycles, something else has to be done.”
Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke out about the most recent incident Monday.
“I think we’re going to be able to do a lot with the police,” de Blasio said. “As I said a few months ago for the first time, we are going to be aggressive in reaching out to the organizations and making very clear that illegal activity will not be tolerated and there will be very serious consequences. I think we can have very consistent and aggressive enforcement, and I think that will make a huge difference.”
WATCH THE WEST SIDE HIGHWAY BIKER INCIDENT BELOW – WARNING GRAPHIC IMAGES
Rodriguez said he has spoken to police, and they told him that last year alone they seized 100 bikes from rowdy riders. Rodriguez also said he plans to propose legislation to stiffen penalties against out-of-control bikers.
Over the summer, the city and nation were riveted by the stunning video of a pack of bikers attacking a family in their SUV after an incident on the West Side Highway. Nine people and one undercover police detective have been charged in the case.
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