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Government & Politics

Cleveland Council Member Rejects the Characterization of Dirt Bike Opposition as Racist

Marion Motley Playfields
City of Cleveland

A Cleveland councilman says race is not the issue behind his opposition to building a dirt-bike track in a city neighborhood.

On Facebook,  Community Relations Director Blaine Griffin wrote that the track would give the predominantly young black men who illegally ride dirt bikes on city streets a safe place to ride, and implied that racism was behind the opposition to the plan.

Cleveland City Councilman Matt Zone, who is white, says his objections to the track are that Cleveland police do not arrest riders illegally using the streets. And he says people of all races and denominations are doing the riding.

“This is not a black and white issue. The venue that it’s going to be put in is a predominantly black neighborhood with a high concentration of poverty in an area that really needs some reinvestment. So from that standpoint I’m supportive of it. But I do push back when people want to interject race into this issue.”

A glimpse of Cleveland's BikeLife ride outs: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6haDPxHbMBs

Zone also questions how the administration suddenly found $2 million to build the track. Other white council members have objected to the project, saying money should go into existing pools and playgrounds that are in disrepair.  Community Relations Director Blaine Griffin has not returned calls seeking comment.