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Monday, September 26, 2016

A Saturday afternoon trapped in Echo Park between biker and baseball fans

Perhaps the last thing you want to hear on a Saturday afternoon is that about 1,000 members of a motorcycle club are headed in your direction to picnic and party. But that’s the news LAPD Northeast Division Capt. Bill Murphy received today after the Rare Breed Motorcycle Club, which held a huge and rowdy gathering last year in San Pedro, decided to change the location of their annual picnic at the last minute. Instead of hanging out near the harbor, hundreds of Rare Breed bikers, primarily African-Americans who prefer Harley-Davidsons, were roaring into Elysian Park, setting up barbecues and tents near the Avenue of the Palms on Stadium Way and jamming nearby streets.

But the motorcycle club was not the only horde headed to Elysian Park today. Tens of thousands of Dodger fans and their cars were going to start arriving late in the afternoon at the stadium next to the Elysian Park for a 7:10 pm game. Oh, just to make things more interesting, there was also a wedding scheduled at the LAPD Police Academy, wedged between park, the stadium and all those bikers. While Murphy scrambled to call in police units, it was too late to block the bikers.

“They already owned the park before we had resources,” Murphy said at a command post set up in the Police Academy parking lot. “We got an unexpected one-thousand motorcyclists here.”

So, officers spent the afternoon blocking streets near the picnic, tying up neighborhood traffic. Murphy said officers at the blockades were informed to let in members of the Police Academy wedding party. Meanwhile, his officers were able to negotiate a deal with the bikers: they would have to leave by 4:30 before the early wave of Dodger fans arrived. With officers, traffic cops and paramedics looking on, a long and noisy parade of Rare Breed bikers roared out of the park through a pre-arranged path on Stadium Way to the southbound 5 Freeway. There were no arrests and no attempt to forcibly evict the bike club, Murphy said. “There was no need to use force.”

By 5 pm, Stadium Way was jammed once again, this time with Dodger fans.

Today’s last minute and apparently illegal biker picnic is the most recent bike and car club gathering that has clogged the streets of Elysian Park and drawn criticism from nearby residents. Murphy said residents complained to him today about the biker picnic. But, he noted, the Rare Breed bikers were much better behaved than the baseball crowd.

“The Dodger fans are usually worse,” Murphy said. Today’s biker invasion “was nothing like Opening Day.”

Related stories:
* Another day of cops and cars in Elysian Park. Echo Park Only
* Three killed in Pico Rivera outside a biker club pizza party. LA Now


Top photo by Rick Morton



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