WASHINGTON, D.C. (WMC) - A Harley Davidson dealership in the Washington D.C. area facing a firestorm on social media this week withdrew its consent for a group of bikers to gather there and ride to the "Million Man March".
Washington D.C. Harley Davidson in Fort Washington, Maryland was scheduled to be a meeting point for a ride to the "Million Man March" in Washington on October 10th. It's the 20th anniversary of the first Million Man March. This year, black motorcycle clubs will ride to the march hosted by controversial civil rights figure Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam. The event was dubbed "Ride for Justice."
When I saw the social media outrage, I wanted to get the real story for myself. I reached out to the dealership earlier Thursday. They seemed a bit overwhelmed by the attention and made it clear they did not support the event or its message. They were only allowing the group to meet at their dealership, which is apparently a courtesy they allow to many groups. I asked if they were rethinking it in this case and they said they would get back to me.
They did late this afternoon, and in a statement release to me, the dealership announced they will not allow the group to meet on their property to stage for the ride.
Here's the entire text of the statement:
The "Million Man March" is organized by Farrakhan, a polarizing figure often accused of inciting violence against white people and even police officers. Recently, outrage erupted after a video posted on July 30th promoted the "Million Man March" and its message "Justice or Else." Among other things he said in the video, Farrakhan stated, "Retaliation is a prescription from God to calm the breasts of those whose children have been slain. So if the federal government will not intercede in our affairs, then we must rise up and kill those who kill us. Stalk them and kill them and let them feel the pain of death that we are feeling." Critics interpreted that statement as a call for black men to rise up and kill whites.
But in yet another video recorded in Memphis, TN , the NOI leader claimed the remarks were not meant to incite violence but demonstrate the frustration the community feels when failed by the system. In the video, Farrakhan mentions Darrius Stewart who was shot and killed by a Memphis police officer. Video of that incident shows Stewart and the officer wrestling on the ground, but doesn't show the actual shooting.
I reached out to the organizers of the ride on Facebook and have not heard back yet.