CLEVELAND – A Cleveland city councilman says people are fed up and want to stop what he calls “urban terrorists.” He is demanding answers after more than 100 ATVs and dirt bike riders took over city streets on Sunday.
“The council needs to ask the chief, the safety director and, ultimately, the mayor, ‘what is this?’ Is it the OK Corral? Is it anything goes?” asked Ward 8 Cleveland city councilman Mike Polensek.
Polensek is fuming over video from Sunday evening. It shows more than 100 ATVs, dirt bikes and other vehicles taking over the streets on West Boulevard, but a similar scene played out all over Cleveland.
“You can just do whatever you want? You don’t have to have a license plate. You go through red lights; you go through stop signs; you drive over people’s cars, as we’ve heard in some neighborhoods, where they physically have gone over their cars on these dirt bikes,” he said.
We spoke to Polensek right after he left a monthly meeting of the East 185th Neighborhood Association, where he was peppered with questions about the bikes and ATVs.
“I can’t explain that, ’cause I don’t enforce the law,” he said.
“When they call the police or something, they’re gone, you know, and it seems like the police didn’t do anything about it, so you know, they kept doing whatever they were doing,” said resident Dorothy Greene.
“That’s what they are, urban vehicle terrorists, terrorizing our neighborhoods,” said Polensek.
Sunday, the driver of a pickup truck was beaten after he struck one of the ATVs, dragging it several hundred feet injuring the rider. Police also say a motorcycle officer was assaulted while trying to arrest a dirt bike rider.
“What you’re hearing from the rank and file…we’re told we can’t go after them. We can’t go after them; we gotta stand by, stand down, stand down,” said Polensek.
Polensek says the riders aren’t joyriding; he calls it intimidation.
“That’s saying we’re in charge, we’re in control and we don’t care about the police department. We don’t respect the police; we don’t respect the city and we’re in control, and until the city sets the tone that we are in control, Cleveland police department is in control, that situation is only gonna get worse,” he said.
FOX 8 contacted Mayor Frank Jackson’s office to ask what the city is doing to address the problem. A spokesman referred us to the police department, who released the following statement to FOX 8 Tuesday evening:
“The Cleveland Division of Police – city-wide, along with our Bureau of Traffic has been actively investing incidents and cases involving the illegal off road vehicle activity. Residents observing this activity are asked to report illegal activity by calling 216-621-1234. Anonymous information can be provided to Crimestoppers by calling or texting 216-25-CRIME.”