City bikers gathered in front of St. Luke’s Hospital on Wednesday evening in a rally to support a motorcyclist who was injured in a high-speed chase on the Henry Hudson Parkway earlier this week.
According to police, biker Edwin Mieses—who is being treated at St. Luke’s—was left paralyzed last Monday after driver Alexian Lien, a SEAS graduate, plowed into him while fleeing a group of angry motorcyclists, one of whom he had accidentally rear-ended moments earlier. The bikers attacked the car, police said, pulling Lien out of the driver’s seat and beating him in front of his wife and two-year-old daughter.
“If you run me over, you’re trying to take my life,” said one biker at the rally, who identified himself only as José. “And I don’t think breaking your window is an overreaction to that.”
In anticipation of the rally, city police set up barricades around Morningside Heights but did not make any arrests or interfere with the protest, aside from clearing the sidewalks and crosswalks of onlookers.
The bikers continued the rally on foot after city police stopped motorcycle traffic over nearby bridges and asked riders to park their bikes in a designated area. Those who attended the rally said the event had been twisted in media reports eager to portray bikers as a gang of criminals.
“Police are trying to stop people riding around,” said biker Rob Anderson, who argued that, contrary to other accounts, the bikers had surrounded the car and asked Lien to slow down after he hit Mieses. “They just don’t like people riding for some reason.”
Many at the rally were concerned that reports of the incident portrayed Mieses as the aggressor rather than the victim. Lexie Filpo of Queens, who was riding on one of the motorcycles during the chase, agreed with Anderson’s portrayal of events and said the bikers were not being aggressive toward anyone “until he [Mieses] was run over.”
Hollywood Stuntz, the loosely organized biker group that includes those who attacked Lien’s SUV, said that their prayers were with the familes of Lien and Mieses.
“Under no circumstances do we condone any type of violence, hate, or any riding that can harm pedestrians or riders. This incident that occurred in Upper Manhattan was very unfortunate and disturbing,” Hollywood Stuntz said in a statement.
Princess Evilyn, president of the House of Hope motorcycle club, said she hoped the peaceful protest would combat the perception that all bikers are criminals.
“Now is not the time to take off your vest and hide. We need to put them on,” she said. “I’m here to show that not all vested people are bad.”