WASHINGTON – More than a hundred motorcyclists gathered on a street near the West Lawn of the Capitol Tuesday to drown the yells of protesters marching against what they said was the U.S. government’s inability to protect constitutional liberties after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Bikers revved their engines as protesters yelled,“We are the victims.”
About a hundred protesters with the “Million American March Against Fear” were marching for transparent and peaceful policies within all branches of government.
Cornel West,a professor at the Union Theology Seminary in New York, also marched with protesters and said he was “fighting against terrorism in all forms.”
Joe Seelig,51,rode is motorcycle from Greenfield,Ind.,to protest the march,honor members of the armed forces,and remember those who were killed on 9/11.
“They did this to get a reaction and piss people off,” said Seelig,who owns a car wash. He said he is not against Muslims.
“We we’re all victims – it was just not the Muslims,” he said.
The “2 Million Bikers to DC” initially planned to drive through traffic signals in Washington,but were denied a permit from the National Park Service.
More than 10 Metropolitan Police Department cars escorted the marchers to the West Lawn from the Mall and created a blockade between the marchers and the and motorcyclists to prevent fights between the two groups.
One woman from the motorcycle group tried to break through the blockade,shouting,“This is inappropriate. This is inconsiderate on a day like this.”
Jack Cook,20,from Fairfax,Va.,said he was marching against fear.
“We’ve started wars in the name of this day,” he said.
Cook,who delivers pizza,said he’s also marching for Muslims who are discriminated against,because of small groups of extremists.
Tom Dixon,55,from Hammonton,N.J.,joined the motorcycle protest and said it was disrespectful and distasteful for protesters to march on the Sept. 11 anniversary.
“It’s their religion that caused this,” he said.
Dixon,who is a window manufacturing sales manager,said he didn’t see Catholics or Baptists committing terrorism acts.
“Everybody wants everyone to be politically correct,but look where that got us,” Dixon said. “God forbid if they ever attack the U.S. again,we would be up in arms.”
Elisabeth Norton,29,from Little Rock,Ark.,was in the Army for five years and was stationed in Baghdad. She joined the Muslim group’s protest.
She told the group that when she was younger,she was ignorant and discriminated against Muslims.
“I was afraid and terrified,” she said.
Norton,who is a new mother,said serving in Iraq open her eyes.
“I saw them less as animals and more as people,” she said. “They’re friends,mothers,fathers and grandparents.”
Reach reporter Zahra Farah at [email protected] or 202-326-9868. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.