Tony Zielinski
Press Release

“Miltown Throwdown” Disrupts Community

Statement of Alderman Tony Zielinski

By - Aug 12th, 2015 03:45 pm

Milwaukee is a town that loves its motorcycles. It is the proud home of Harley-Davidson, and not a summer passes without the rumble of bikes in the streets. Milwaukee has even hosted some of the largest motorcycle parades in history commemorating various Harley-Davidson anniversaries. The vast majority of riders have always been peaceful and law-abiding, showing respect for their fellow motorists and the communities through which they ride.

Last weekend, however, the “Miltown Throwdown” demonstrated that there is another side to motorcycle culture. Individuals associated with this event blocked traffic, drove recklessly, damaged property and otherwise made themselves a public nuisance. I witnessed a few of these incidents and did what I could to prevent further harm, but I also decided then and there to do what I could to make sure this sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

This morning I met with representatives of the Milwaukee Police Department, the office of the City Attorney and the Department of Public Works to come up with an comprehensive strategy. The following was determined:

  1. Those individuals already identified as having interfered with law enforcement and otherwise engaging in the most reckless behavior will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
  2. I will be introducing legislation on September 1 to make participation in an unpermitted gathering of this sort punishable by a forfeiture of up to $500.
  3. I will be working with local law enforcement to ensure that they are prepared to react to any future events organized by this same group. Knowing that we live in a time of difficult budgets and regrettable police officer furloughs, I will be working to ensure that the revenue from the forfeitures mentioned above are turned over to the Milwaukee Police Department.

The disruption of a community in this way, if the broken windows theory is to be believed, can be every bit as disruptive to residents’ mental well-being as a robbery or a burglary. I want to join with my colleagues on the Common Council to do whatever we can to make our city safe for everyone—including those who want to enjoy it on a motorcycle operated safely and legally.

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12 thoughts on ““Miltown Throwdown” Disrupts Community”

  1. Casey says:

    I agree with the sentiment of the strategy but point 2 worries me “make participation in an unpermitted gathering of this sort punishable by a forfeiture of up to $500.” What would define participation and gathering.

    I think if the current laws were enforced immediately rather than the police playing escort to the ride this whole situation could’ve been prevented. If I’m out for a ride with friends and one of them decides to start acting like a donkey he should get a ticket not the whole group. Or I’m out for a solo ride and come upon a group of riders acting like donkeys when the police intervene will I be grouped among them?

  2. AG says:

    Good luck enforcing any of that. A lot of the bikers that participate in the Miltown Throwdown believe they can’t be caught by police and they flaunt that. Being in a large group only further inflates that belief. Not to mention most of them do not have license plates and/or a motorcycle endorsement on their drivers license.

  3. PMD says:

    I’d never heard of this until I read about the problems. Was it the first Miltown Throwdown?

  4. AG says:

    No, it’s been happening for a few years. Stunt riders who usually stick to empty parking lots and a lot of guys who wish they were. They’ve always done things like run lights, perform stunts in the streets, ridden on sidewalks, etc… but it’s escalated a bit each year. Apparently this year far surpassed previous years though.

  5. PMD says:

    Oh OK. I sure am glad I don’t live anywhere near where this takes place. Seems like a huge nuisance and dangerous as well.

  6. AG says:

    There’s really no where that they wouldn’t go. Past years saw them go up lake drive, east side, south side, north side, far northwest side, anywhere really.

  7. PMD says:

    Oh I believe you, but I’ve never come across them near my ‘hood in Glendale, and I am grateful for that.

  8. Casey says:

    AG- you’re first comment- wouldn’t that mean that law enforcement would need better training in tactics/maneuvers in how to deal with this sort of behavior? Maybe the no chase policy would be the in the way of enforcing the current laws? If that’s the case even the new law wouldn’t have an effect.
    I wonder if the outrage has more to do with the type of riders and type of bikes they’re on. During the Harley Fests I see plenty of obnoxious riding that puts city residents at risk. Not too many people seem to mind when streets get corked by a couple hundred Harley (or Harley type) motorcycles.

  9. PMD says:

    Selective outrage here? That’s possible. Harley’s are made here and are “cool,” so their noise and obnoxious riders are OK?

  10. Casey says:

    Oh absolutely its selective but I don’t think its just local. You could go to just about any place in this country and the people on their $15k toys get a free pass while people on their $8k rice burners, crotch rockets or any other derogatory name get scowls.

  11. Tony Muhammad says:

    I have lived on the North side of Milwaukee practically all my life. Well, all my life except for my 4 years in the military and 10 years residency in Hartford CT. The past 20 years there has been an increase year after year in motorcycle noise nuisance on the Northside of Milwaukee.

    I have on occasion called MPD to report the activity. Nothing is worst than waking from a sound sleep from loud motorcycle pipes screaming in your neighborhood 1:00 am in the morning.

    I must add my experiences which are many over the years, did not occur from Harley Davison annual gatherings.

    Is Alderman Tony Zielinski comprehensive strategy selective?

    Yes, it is but I am sure many Northside residents (Not living in the 14 Aldermanic district) who fall into needed and restful summertime sleep. Only to be awakened by speed demons, will appreciate new public policy hopefully to deter inconsiderate motorcyclists that believe the general public should tolerate their bad behavior / unsafe acts when riding these loud high-speed street machines.

  12. Casey says:

    Tony – you don’t see how this could be a slippery slope that can be selectively applied to groups that authorities aren’t fond of? I haven’t read the actual proposal but I’m curious on what would define participation and gathering.

    I also live on the Northside and I’m more concerned with cops enforcing current traffic laws concerning reckless driving be it on a motorcycle or car. I’d like to see a press release from an alderperson about doing something about the swerving.

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