*This article has been updated. See below.
Two Million Bikers to D.C. (2MBTDC), is building a "Wall for Maya Angelou" in order to thwart the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) from disrupting the funeral of the iconic and controversial American poet on Thursday night in Winston Salem, North Carolina.
Despite the lack of media attention, 2MBTDC tapped into the national psyche when they roared into Washington, D.C. last year on September 11. While the ride was initially in response to the pitifully-attended "Million Muslim March," the biker group evolved into something that could never have been anticipated by 2MBTDC founder Belinda Bee.
Bee told the Examiner that they are not riding in support of Angelou's beliefs. "We are riding to protect her funeral from WBC," she said. "If we allow WBC to protest her funeral what will stop them from protesting one of our funerals?"
Bee continued to say that even though her organization does not agree with Angelou, they will fight for the rights of all people to speak freely.
She passionately said,
"No we do not agree with her beliefs, but we agree with her freedom to have & voice those beliefs. That is what freedom is about! If we attempt to shut up all those who disagree with us are we not doing the same thing as them?"
Brant Caudle, Two Million Bikers to D.C.'s "Piedmont area Ride Captain for North Carolina," agreed. He said,
"[T]his is not about her [Angelou's] beliefs, it is about standing up for what is right."
The patriot biker's group, whose Facebook page has over 315 thousand "likes," has embarked on some amazing journeys. Belinda Bee told the Examiner that the focus of her organization "is to honor all victims, survivors and first responders of 9-11, including our Veterans who precipitated the attacks." The group's mission statement also stresses they pledge "to peacefully oppose any and all who wish to fundamentally transform our country from our founding Father's original intent."
*Update: The Westboro Baptist Church has backed off of their plans to protest Maya Angelou's funeral in the wake of reports that President Obama may be in attendance. The funeral, which has moved to Saturday, will be sufficiently protected by the Secret Service, even if the president was not in attendance. Therefore, the group "2 Million Bikers to DC" is no longer needed to build their "Wall for Maya Angelou," and has been cancelled. The event was originally promoted as an effort to "help with preventing westboro [Westboro Baptist Church Protesters] from harassing the friends and family Mrs. Angelou."
Belinda Bee said in a message to the Examiner, "We thank everyone for supporting our effort to protect [Angelou's] her funeral and her family/friends."
*Update: The photo is actually from the group Patriot Guard Riders. The article has been updated to reflect the error.
In an article posted at Liberty Unyielding, a bit more background on the decision to support Maya Angelou can be found.