[Grindstone]Bikers Back the Blue: Community Voices

2021-07-09 13:02:05

  BEREA, Ohio — Hundreds of motorcyclists from throughout Northeast Ohio joined area police motorcycle units to show their support for police officers on Sunday (June 27).

  They met at Grindstone Tap House in Berea for the Back the Blue Run. Bob Costanza, co-owner of the Grindstone Tap House, estimated that 650 bikers were crowded into the parking lot, with more arriving right up until the start time of 11:30 a.m.

  A Marine Corps veteran, Costanza said he had been involved with biking groups for more than 18 years and volunteered his restaurant as the staging area.

  The Back the Blue Run was orchestrated by Charlie McGeever of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association, a captain with Patriot Guard Riders. He also is involved with the 911 Foundation, which offers scholarships to the children of safety forces killed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

  This year marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and McGeever said the run was “how I married the two — Back the Blue and 9/11.”

  Police officers on motorcycles

  Police motorcycle units from Cleveland, Parma and Berea line up to begin the Back the Blue Run to downtown Cleveland. (Linda G. Kramer/City of Berea)

  A semi-truck with information about the foundation shared the Grindstone Taphouse grounds with bikers and police.

  The run also was supported by Cleveland Bikers for Charity.

  Motorcycle units from Berea, Parma and Cleveland led the run, followed by cars from the Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office and the Geneva-on-the-Lake Police Department.

  The restaurant is located on the north end of Berea, just a minute from Interstate 71, so from Berea, the run passed Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, then traveled to the Peace Officers Memorial in downtown Cleveland for a special ceremony.

  Guest speakers were Eric Sjurseth, president of America’s 911 Foundation, and former Lorain City Councilman Angel Arroyo Jr.

  The final stop was Geneva-on-the-Lake.

  Proceeds from the ride benefited Shop With a Cop and the family of Cleveland Police Detective James Skernivitz, who was killed in the line of duty in September 2020.

  Sgt. Patrick Greenhill represented the Berea Police Department on the ride.

  “Chief (Dan) Clark and I talked and decided we should support this,” Greenhill said. “Bikers for Charity actually started in Berea, and they pick a different cause each year to support. They also support homeless vets.”

  Greenhill said he helped McGeever organize police units on the scene, and that other police officers blocked intersections along the route.

  With American flags flying and a huge flag draped over the entrance to the Grindstone Taphouse driveway, the bikers roared down Front Street to the Airport Freeway.

  “Well, what do you think?” Costanza asked. “Pretty neat, eh?”