PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — In an attempt to increase voter turnout for the May 18 primary election, Black motorcyclists rode through low turnout communities Saturday afternoon.
"When you come through as Black bikers, it does something," said Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler, pastor of Mother Bethel AME Church and organizer of the Black Bikers Vote ride.
The goal of the rally was to encourage voter registration and participation in neighborhoods with historically low voter turnout, and to reach out to people who feel as though their vote doesn't matter.
"When they see a bunch of Black bikers rolling through and they think, 'Wait, now they're voting?' Maybe there is something to it," said Tyler, who admitted being loud and visible helps with their cause.
"Especially in the African-American community," he said, "I mean, people were throwing their fists in the air. They didn't even know why we were riding."
The bikers drove by churches where their partners stood by, ready to register people to vote. Kendra Cochran, director of civic engagement for POWER Interfaith, said this election is particularly crucial to the Black community because judges and the district attorney are on the ballot.
"We're out here fighting for criminal justice reform," she said, "and so we have to have our voices heard and those particular races to make sure that we are electing fair people who would give everybody a fair chance when they come before them.
"We're seeing people getting murdered in the street," she continued. "We need people that will hold the police accountable and also keep our street safe for our children."
Tyler said communities that vote are the ones that get resources and services.
"In some places like Louisville, you can't get an indictment," he said. "In somewhere else like Minneapolis, not only do you get an indictment, you get a conviction. That’s not by chance, that's by an election."
He added there's great power in voting.
"If your vote didn't matter, then people wouldn't be trying to present legislation all over the country literally trying to prevent African Americans from voting," said Tyler.
The deadline to register to vote for the May 18 primary election is Monday.