If you did not see them … you certainly heard them.
You know who we are talking about – the scores of motorbikers who rallied Sunday, revving their engines and thumbing their noses at police, law-abiding motorists and bystanders as they paraded from West Bay to East End, putting on display their usual juvenile, but threatening, behavior: popping wheelies, speeding, blocking intersections and generally disturbing the peace.
Sunday’s motorcade was a repeat performance of last November’s “ride of the century.” At the time, police assured us it was the proverbial “last straw” and launched a much-publicized crackdown on illegal motorbiking, generating a far greater number of headlines than successful convictions.
So here they came again Sunday, disrupting the tranquility of an otherwise serene afternoon with their noise, putting themselves and other residents in danger with their antics, and belying the assumption that the Cayman Islands is a community based on law and order.
The motorbikers traveled unchallenged by police as they made their way from West Bay, through George Town and eventually into East End. There was nary a police officer in sight until they finally encountered a roadblock on Bodden Town Road, hastily put in place to block their return to George Town.
The illegal motorbikers turned the blockade into a scene straight out of “Keystone Cops” – swerving, making U-turns and otherwise leaving in their exhaust members of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service who (gamely, but lamely) tried to chase them down on foot.
(We highly recommend that our readers view this video of the mayhem which is spreading through social media channels.)
Police report they confiscated 10 motorbikes on Sunday – but that is a small fraction of the estimated 200 motorbikers who traversed the entire island before police finally intervened. They made one arrest.
A year ago, in one of his first public actions in his new position, Police Commissioner Derek Byrne said he was making it a priority to run these menacing motorbikes off the roads for good. Obviously, that has not happened. To date, the sordid prosecutorial scorecard reads: two convictions. This is a collective failure shared by the police, the Office of the Director of Prosecutions and the courts.
These marauding motorbikers are making Commissioner Byrne, the RCIPS and Cayman’s prosecutorial and judicial system look ineffective and impotent. It has become a highly visible mockery of their inability to enforce the rule of law on this island.
And the brazenness of the motorbikers is escalating. The written statement from the RCIPS, released Monday afternoon, included this: “Around 4 p.m. [on Sunday] about 75-100 of the bikers charged the roadblock … The bikers charged the officers personally, threw bottles at officers, behaved in a threatening manner, and engaged in other reckless and dangerous acts while charging the roadblock.”
They even brought their own film crew, mounted unsafely and most likely illegally in the back of a moving Jeep, to document the rally.
Members of the Compass news staff watched from their offices as one motorbiker – his identity masked by an orange balaclava – commandeered a busy four-way intersection in order to “direct traffic” so that his law-breaking companions could speed past motorists who clearly had the right of way.
The unmistakable message was this: The motorbikers, not the police, had taken control of Grand Cayman’s roadways.
Which leads to this inevitable question: What are authorities going to do about it?