Thousands of bikers descended on Washington, D.C., Wednesday to protest a Muslim march provocatively timed for the 12th anniversary of 9/11.
While the "Million Muslim March" looked likely to be a flop, the "2 Million Bikers" event brought participants from throughout the eastern seaboard. One estimate put the number of bikers there at 880,000.
So many turned out that plans to have them ride through the streets of the Capital had to be changed. "There are so many motorcycles that trying to go through Washington, D.C., would not have worked," ride organizer Eric Zern told WTOP-Radio
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Instead, the station says the group will travel one time on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway from Prince George’s County, Md., to Montgomery County and then into Virginia. They’ll then return to where they started, the Harley-Davidson store in Fort Washington, Md.
Harold Murphy, a ride organizer from Pennsylvania, told Fox News: "The bikers themselves have a lot of pride. They're very patriotic people. They take a bad rap a lot of times for being bikers, but bikers have good hearts, they're honorable people, and they give you their word and their handshake and they'll stick by it."
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Mike Belair, state ride coordinator for Ohio, predicted the event would be "the most patriotic display the country has ever seen."
"We're going to show support for the 9/11 victims and their families, for the police, fire, EMS, for tower workers, anyone who had family who had fallen — we're going to show support for them.
"[Sept. 11] really hurt, but it brought America together. United we stand and divided we fall. We should never forget. Never. Even another 12 years from now, I'm sure there's going to be another ride, and I'll be going then."
The Muslim march was aimed at drawing attention to America's alleged discrimination against Muslims, but the timing of the event sparked the counterdemonstration, The Huffington Post reports.
According to police estimates, the Muslim rally, renamed "Million Americans Against Fear," was expected to attract "somewhere in the hundreds, not thousands, of participants."
Even though organizers of the biker event were denied a permit to allow them to avoid traffic signals in the city, they forged ahead with the ride, which they said was intended "to remember those who were killed on 9/11 and honor our Armed Forces who fought those who precipitated this attack," according to a local Fox News station
The National Park Service, which denied the request, said it was unable to manage the size of the event. "We couldn’t provide adequate park police services and park police escorts and it would require a lot of road closures so it was denied," spokeswoman Carol Johnson told The Blaze
The ride kicked off in Fort Washington at 11 a.m. The group, which stressed the ride would go on as planned, apologized for any gridlock.
"What could have been a one- or two-hour ride will now likely be an all-day event," the organizers said in a post on Facebook, according to Fox.
The group also said on its Facebook page that they will stand by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, adding that they're "against any fundamental transformation of America," according to NBC News
Twitter lit up with photos of bikers on their way to participate in the parade.
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