I was reminded today by a fellow editor that being a fair journalist is knowing all the facts. At the time of my previous post, I based my conclusions on articles posted by the NY Post and NY Times before many additional circumstances were brought to light in the following hours. Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell exactly what happened based on the helmet cam footage posted on YouTube. When I wrote my article, I had no intention of offending or singling out anyone involved as being at fault. My conclusions were hypothetical and would only have been valid if what I’d read were true. My article was merely my opinion and not a factual piece written by a reporter. I realize I may have favored the side of the riders, but that is because I myself am a rider. And for that bias, I’m sorry, but I can’t overlook Alexian leaving the scene of an accident, nor can I deny that the riders were wrong when they chased him down afterward.
Furthermore, I was told by a trusted source that the Hollywood ride (started by Hollywood Stunts) never actually took place. On the morning of the incident, police sat outside Hollywood’s shop, perhaps trying to prevent him from holding his annual event. As a result, Hollywood never left his shop and he was in no way affiliated with the violent actions that took place on the street that day. I also learned that Jay Meezee was riding with a suspended license and never should have been out riding that day, so his involvement was merely circumstantial. Still, he is a human being and regardless of character, his injuries are still saddening and by no means not worth mentioning.
The riders who consumed the streets of New York were more than likely out on their own. No club members or anyone associated with Hollywood or the annual event was present and therefore, can not be associated with the riders responsible for the inexcusable acts that happened that day.
After watching the video, it does appear as if the rider who was in front of Alexian’s SUV did in fact brake check him and if Alexian did not have enough time to react, this one rider is mostly likely the catalyst for the consequences that followed. There is ten seconds of video where Alexian’s SUV does not move and who knows what conversation took place to cause him to flee the scene of an accident. Did the riders threaten him? Was he in fear for his life and his family? Or was it adrenaline or aggression? It is hard to tell by the video and unless we were there or heard the words exchanged, we might never know exactly what caused Alexian to run over the riders in front of him or what caused the riders to react so violently.
By no means do I condone the actions of the riders, nor do I excuse Alexian for his. Regardless, violence is never the right option, nor is detaining a vehicle, as that is also a felony. If Alexian did provoke the riders, their actions would not have been right, only instinctual. But the result is still the same. Alexian and his family, as well as every other citizen of New York is left asking questions and coming to the conclusion that all riders are felonious animals who need to be stopped. This event has cast a shadow on the motorcycling community that has left us all divided and now we no longer trust each other. Each of us is biting our fingernails wondering if when we go out riding, someone on the road will see us as one of the riders who terrorized Alexian and chase us down without empathy. Or worse, we will terrorize each other.
There is much that can be speculated about what caused the event, whose actions were justified and who needs to be sent to jail. But instead of pointing fingers and screaming at each other, why don’t we learn from it? When I expressed my point of view, my only hope was to see the media be fair and just in their coverage of the event, that’s all. Report the hard evidence and use proven facts to write the story. I know the police will do their job and not only bring justice for Alexian, but also the rest of us who were peripherally scarred by this.
I also want to state by posting Jay Meezee’s photo, it was to show there was more than one victim here. It sends a message to not only the motorcycling community, but the entire community that regardless of character or one’s past, needless violence shouldn’t happen. Hate and malicious intent only results in pain.
What matters now is that each and every motorcyclist make small steps to stitch the wounds inside our community. We need to treat each other like family, as that is what we were before this happened. The beauty of motorcycling is that it’s a sport, a past time or way of life that brings people from all walks of life, religions and classes together on an equal ground. Riding is about enjoying life and having a passion for exploring the world and living each day like it is a gift. We need to place stereotypes and misconceptions aside. Now is a time for the track riders to shake hands with the club riders and the stunt riders to give respect to the canyon riders and for everyone to respect the road as a shared and privileged space not to be taken for granted. Set the right examples. And don’t let one act of road rage shatter everything we’ve worked for.
Other riders have led massive group rides safely and some event organizers or leaders will not ride without first seeking permission from the city and the blessing of local law enforcement. Allan Lane, who is Editor-N-Chief of SportbikesIncMag.com does this with his bi-annual rides. It’s riders like him who set the right example and give the right of way to other traffic sharing the road.
If you’ll see on my bog, I have a story about a Corset Run where riders came together to raise money for breast cancer. They did it peacefully and safely. They did it because they’re good people. If the rest of us strive for the same benevolence and change, we will be able to set things right.
My heart goes out to all involved. Ride safe. Do the right thing and don’t let anger get the best of you.
From Rachael Maltbie to all who have read this, please see my follow up here.
Last week, a group called Hollywood Stuntz was to put on a massive ride, but that ride never happened. The ride was initially meant to be “a family thing” to celebrate the end of summer, but things went awry when this event was cancelled and a group of unknown riders had a violent confrontation with Alexian Lien, the driver of a black Range Rover.
As riders approached the sides of Lien’s Range Rover on the highway, they changed lanes in front of Lien. Upon slowing down, Lien hit the rear of one of the bikes and knocked it and rider over which brought the entire group to a halt. The riders surrounding the vehicle approached Lien, who had his wife in the passenger seat and baby in the rear seat of the vehicle. According to the NY Times, witnesses say the riders did not attack the vehicle initially.
Lien panicked and hit the gas pedal, running over a couple of bikes in the process. This resulted in a pursuit that ended near the George Washington Bridge when Lien was forced to stop at a traffic light. At that point, the riders surrounded his vehicle again and one of them began bashing in the driver side window with his helmet. A video that was shot by a rider nearby with his helmet camera shows the entire pursuit, but stops just short of Lien being beaten. Lien suffered lacerations and bruises as a result of the beating, but he had no other serious injuries.
The media has been focusing mostly on Lien’s injuries as opposed to the injuries of Jay Meezee, the rider who was hit by Lien’s SUV. Meezee is currently in a medical induced coma and is paralyzed from the waist down. He’s fighting for his life in the hospital while the media has a feeding frenzy with the story surrounding his misfortune.
It’s been a long time since I’ve published an opinion on events in the news, but I had to speak up about this one. Based on the video, it’s unclear what the intentions were of either
side. According to the NY Times, a witness stated the driver (Lien) “sped up as the riders approached and hurled obscenities at them.” If this is true and Lien had in fact instigated a confrontation, the resulting road rage was an instinctual response and most likely more than he had bargained for. This incident would have been the equivalent of Lien starting a fight with someone at a family barbecue and expecting not to be beaten by the rest of the family members afterward. And if Lien had in fact started the whole thing by intentionally hitting the rider in front of him, he was not only endangering the lives of the riders around his vehicle, but also the lives of his family in the car. His temporary recklessness may have been the result of panic or fear, but he is still a suspect involved in a cowardly crime.
If you read the NY Post’s view of the event, they title their version of the story as “Motor Psychos: ‘Road Rage Biker May Be Paralyzed.’” The article goes on to state how “one of the sickos posted video on YouTube” and the “menacing pack” surrounded Lien’s SUV and then “cops busted psycho biker.” Not only did the NY Post immediately place blame on the riders without any backup testimony from witness statements, they wrote a leading piece to sway readers into easily believing the ‘bad biker’ stereotype, thus making Lien a hero despite his cowardly act. This was lazy, presumptuous and unsubstantiated journalism that would have landed the NY Post in a slander suit if this had happened before the digital age of social media.
I, myself, have a major in journalism and was taught about a journalist’s code of ethics which is or was thought to be as sacred as a knight’s code of honor. But this code has obviously been degraded, undermined and devalued to the point where it’s virtually worthless simply for the sake of page views.
I’m very disheartened and angered by the media’s loose use of trendy, persuasive banter with no regard to the consequences. They’re paying no attention to how their words affect all involved and how their point of view persuades not just the reader, but also law enforcement entities into buying a particular version of events because they’re the so called authority on the matter. This is just ignorant reporting that does nothing to dissolve the aftermath of a horrific and unfortunate incident and it does nothing to positively examine the circumstances of the event or shed a positive light on the matter.
My point is, on that horrible day, Jay, who was trying to help the rider who was initially hit, may never walk again, or sustain a normal job or even be the man his family knew before. And though the driver of the SUV was injured, he was not severely hurt and more than likely will not be punished for his mistakes the way the riders will be punished for theirs.
There are many shoulda-coulda-woulda’s in this story, i.e. Lien should have backed off when the pack approached, he should have called the cops and the riders should have stayed out of his lane and not consumed the entire highway. There were many chances to avoid this incident, chances by both sides but they did what they did and now they both have to face the consequences. There is no excuse for the riders consuming an entire highway, but there is also no excuse for Lien to flee the scene of an accident after maiming a rider with his vehicle.
Even though Lien hit and severely injured a rider, even though he fled the scene of an accident, endangered his family and didn’t notify the cops of his situation like a coward (most likely because he knew he was also in the wrong), he will not be punished. No charges will be brought against him. He’ll recover from his beating and move on with his life like nothing ever happened. He will most likely take out his resentment on any other rider he sees while driving for the rest of his life. But because the media is pinning most of the blame on the riders, it’s justifying Lien to take out his resentment as well as every other driver on the road for that matter as they’re simply treating every last ‘bad, malicious biker’ the way they deserve to be treated.
The media is the voice of the people. It’s all we see and hear and we’re bombarded with stories that are not always true and opinions that are not always warranted. Everything happens for a reason but if that reason is twisted and contorted into slop by poor journalism, then we’re never going to improve as a society, we’re never going to stop violence or persuade readers to take a positive course of action. By the media pointing fingers, they’re only throwing fuel on the fire just to see how high the flames can reach. And where’s the justice in that?
Helmet Cam Footage of Incident.