Hundreds of motorcyclists join police for annual rally to honor fallen police officers

Event raises scholarship money for childen

AKRON, Ohio - Hundreds of bikers in black leather joined police in blue for an annual motorcycle ride to honor police officers who died in the line of duty.

About 400 motorcyclists took part in the 20-mile Police Memorial Motorcycle Rally from a Harley dealership in Medina to the Akron Police Department. It was the fifteenth year for ride.

In addition to paying tribute to fallen officers, the event serves as a fundraiser and generates between $10,000 to $15,000 each year.

"We give scholarships to the children of policemen and since we've been doing this, we've given away $190,000 in college scholarships, said Sgt. Andy Ezzo from the Cleveland Police Department.

Ezzo helped organize the rally after Cleveland Detective Robert Clark was shot in the the line of duty in 1998. Since that time, six other Northeast Ohio officers have been killed on the job.

Chico Griffin, a member of the New Century Harley Chapter, got involved in the event after Officer Wayne Leon, also from Cleveland, was shot and killed in 2000. Griffin was touched by the homicide because he grew up in Leon's neighborhood.

"Even as a little child, I knew the police was not the enemy, that they serve and protect. I grew up with that. That was the teachings from my mom," Griffin said.

The event ended at the site of the eternal flame and police memorial in front of Akron police headquarters.

Akron Police Chief James Nice, who rode in the rally, remembered the officers who lost their lives and also delivered a message about gun violence.

"We must also unite towards a common goal of preventing future police and civilian fatalities. One way to meet this goal is to unite against gun violence," Nice said.

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