WASHINGTON -- A diversity of groups converged Wednesday on the National Mall and other sites for peaceful rallies marking the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.
But the most noise was generated by thousands of bikers who rode into the district from Virginia to express their version of American solidarity.
Bikers from across the country gathered at nearby Harley-Davidson stores on Wednesday morning before their ride. Although they were denied a permit to ride en masse around the district, the bikers were not deterred.
Leaders encouraged participants to obey traffic laws, and police directed traffic near the National Mall on Wednesday as they rode around in large groups, many entering the district via the 14th Street Bridge to honor the victims of 9/11 and their families.
At one point, some bikers parked near the National Mall and walked up to observe a small rally by about 50 members of the Million American March Against Fear, sponsored by the American Muslim Political Action Committee. Christian groups, those opposed to President Obama and demonstrators opposed to U.S. intervention in Syria also used the occasion to rally while the roar of motorcycle engines often drowned out their speakers.
Kevin Barrett, a co-founder of AMPAC, said the purpose of their rally and march was to "memorialize all the victims of the crimes of Sept. 11, 2001, not only the people murdered that day, but the millions of people who have been deprived of their lives, liberty and property that day." He said many of those deprived of their freedoms were Muslims, and the groups represented aimed to "communicate a message of peace and unity."
Ruby Sous of Kansas City, Mo., a member of AMPAC, said the group chose the date for the rally to counter common views of American Muslims since the Sept. 11 attacks. She said Muslims "are against hate and all violence" and also wanted to honor those lost.
A couple of blocks away on Constitution Avenue, Tim Courtney of Richmond, Va., rested in front of the National Museum of American History with a group of friends. They had arrived in D.C. with a group of about 500 bikers from Virginia to commemorate 9/11. Courtney said he had heard about the Muslim American group on the National Mall hosting a rally and said he thought it was "just wrong" that the bikers were not granted a permit for their tour.
AMPAC said on its Facebook event page that the bikers group shared "the same goals and purpose for rallying" on the anniversary.ALSO: