Cleveland mayor beefs up dirt bike legislation, calls political opponent a 'pimp' for track criticism

Cleveland cracking down on dirt bikers
Published: May. 16, 2017 at 4:59 PM EDT|Updated: May. 16, 2017 at 6:00 PM EDT
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(Source: WOIO)
(Source: WOIO)
Mayor Jackson and Chief Williams (Source: WOIO)
Mayor Jackson and Chief Williams (Source: WOIO)

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson wants to get illegal dirt bike and ATV riders off the streets.

During a press conference Tuesday, Jackson rolled out legislation that will enhance penalties for illegal riders, and give police better tools to deal with the problem. That has angered residents dealing with the noise and safety risk the riders pose.

During morning news conference that also included Police Chief Calvin Williams and local bike groups, the mayor said legislation could be introduced as early as next Monday night's Cleveland City Council meeting.

The mayor's own grandson was arrested for illegally riding his dirt bike along Martin Luther King Boulevard. The arrest occurred in 2016, but the video of the incident wasn't turned over to Cleveland 19 until last month. Jackson's grandson told Cleveland Police on body camera video in July he was running from them while illegally riding a dirt bike on city streets without a motorcycle license and instead he was charged with a misdemeanor for resisting arrest and several other dirt bike related charges.

Jackson said they are still working out details of the beefed up law. Williams said he will continue to instruct his officers not to engage in a chase of the bikers out of concern for the safety of the riders, the public and police.

During Monday night's council meeting, Councilman Zack Reed called for public hearings on the issue and a dirt bike track who's funding has already been approved by council.

When I asked the mayor about Reed's rant, he said:

"He's a political opponent. He'll say anything. Whatever he thinks is to his advantage. Is the issue real? Yes, the issue is real. That's what I'm doing what I'm doing."

When I asked him if Reed is exploiting the issue, the mayor responded:

"There are pimps in every world, yes," Jackson said.  "[Reed] is pimpin' this situation. That's right. He's exploiting it -- not for the general concern about their well being ... the citizen's well being ... or police officer's well being. He's exploiting it for the purpose of his own political interests."

Reed has opposed the mayor's $2.3 million dirt bike track since its infancy.

"A track, I can almost guarantee you, no one in this room is going to go to. Nobody," Reed previously said.

It's money Reed said he would rather spend on the city's police department.

The councilman said he wants an apology for the mayor's comments about him today.

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