By Gordon Davis
The Worcester City Council recently passed an “emergency” ordinance prohibiting the use and ownership of dirt bikes and ATVs in Worcester. It was rammed through so fast that I still have not seen a copy of it on-line. I suppose I will have to seek a copy from the Worcester City Clerk.
Because I have not seen anything official on this “emergency” I think it reasonable to assume that most people in Worcester have not seen anything officially about it either.
When I was a soccer coach the dirt bike riders used to upset me, as they would wreck the soccer field and other athletic fields. At that time most of the off road riders were White kids. Not much was done, with the exception of better securing the fields. No one was injured by the kids on dirt bikes back then. These days I hear there are 84 “incidents”; I have not heard of any injuries.
So what was the emergency?
Why ram through another city ordinance with little public input?
The answer seems to be the bias of the people pushing through the emergency order. It is my understanding that Main South activist Billy Breault had a large part to play in its passage. Many people, mostly Hispanic young men, have been arrested. Many have had their property seized. The City and Worcester police have formed a special task force to make the arrests and confiscate the bikes. Most people adversely affected did not know the “emergency ordinance” even existed. The ordinance went into effect immediately after passage.
Now compare this treatment of Hispanic young men to the treatment of the White dog owners who have for two decades defied City government by bringing their dogs to City of Worcester parks where all dogs are prohibited. The City is working to accommodate these lawbreakers by doing nothing adverse against them. In fact, Councilor Gary Rosen has taken up their cause and is working on allowing dogs in our parks.
Please do not misunderstand me on this issue: I like dogs and I think there should be a dog park. But the facts are that there have been more people bitten by dogs than have been injured by dirt bikes. Dogs can be a noise nuisance with their barking.
The young men who ride dirt bikes in our city have complained that there should be a City of Worcester park/space where they can ride. Well, that makes sense. There will be a dog park in Worcester. We have a skateboard park. We have a water (spray) park.
Instead of an emergency ordinance, there should have been a phase-in of the particulars. There also should have been some outreach to explain the ordinance to riders. There should have been a grace period for the bike owners to comply with the ordinance, instead of immediate arrests and seizures.
It is clear that the people who pushed this ordinance think that the police should deal with Hispanic young men, instead of community services. It is not a wonder why we feel alienated from our City government and its police force.