ONCE RIVALS, BIKE CLUBS NOW WORKING TOGETHER
Once-notorious outlaw-biker rivals, the Pagans and Warlocks are working together to raise funds to fight discrimination, fresh from helping to repeal laws regarding motorcycle helmets and high handlebars, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.
What's more, these clubs have joined with non-outlaw bikers to fight against discrimination and police harassment in a political and legal forum, and threw their first annual Summer Sizzler, a biker family picnic, on August 21st, at the Nevlin Grist Mill Park, in Glen Mills, Delaware County.
This was the first major fund-raiser for the Confederation of
Clubs of Eastern Pennsylvania, founded in April 1999. The confederation
represents more than 1,000 members, with an average age of 42, from 23
clubs. Members include 1
It's one of 55 confederations in North America, the fastest-growing part of the national bikers- rights movement, with annual national conventions and a Web site: www.aimncom.com/coc/.
The confederations' aim is to stop police harassment of bikers and civil-rights discrimination in housing, bars and other areas, and to solve mutual problems, not settle scores among clubs, according to its local president, a Warlock.
"We're all bikers," said Kenny Plank, of Longriders, in Chester County. "There's no reason to be fighting each other."
Not all bikers in the local confederation are outlaws and not all outlaw bikers are gangsters. They are nurses, firemen, company owners, salesmen, judges and lawyers.
As confederation treasurer, "Patches" said his job was to "make sure all the committees are doing the right thing." That is, keeping within a $5,000 party budget. After paying for expenses, said Patches, a member of the Messengers Motorcycle Club, known as a "clean and sober" club, "We'll have the legal means to protect ourselves."
"We're serious about bikers rights," he said. The confederation is "neutral ground."
At regular meetings at which two representatives per club have one vote, Norristown attorney Boyd Spencer regularly updates them about state and federal legislation, including the Patriot Act. Spencer said the law "targets three or more people with a common handshake, common purpose and common attire."
Spencer is a member of the national network of biker-rights lawyers in Aid to Injured Motorcyclists, or AIM, founded in 1982 by California attorney Richard M. Lester, who started the national confederation and similar groups.
On legislative issues, the local confederation supports the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) of Pennsylvania, the main biker lobby; and Pennsylvania Coalition of Motorcyclists (PCOM), which monitors legislation.
The confederation supported member Warlocks and the Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA), both of whom sued police for allegedly harassing bikers in separate Toys for Tots Runs in Philadelphia and Delaware County in 2002. The Warlocks obtained a consent decree from the Philly cops and BACA, an out-of-court settlement from Darby Borough.
"Everybody is getting along together as a group and becoming more political," said "Rabbit," of Men of Honor. "It's good to see as many [clubs] agree on one thing."
At their latest confederation meeting, held in the middle of the summer when most organizations don't meet, the confederation drew more than 40 members.
Amid the banter, the president introduced "Q" as a nurse and a minister: "He can bury ya and marry ya."
For $200, which would go to the confederation, he added, bikers could get married or renew their vows at the Summer Sizzler.
"Boyd will do the divorce," joked the president, referring to AIM lawyer Boyd Spencer.
Later, Q identified himself as Steve Stoyke, 54, a member of Association of Recovering Motorcyclists, or ARM, who rode five hours on his Harley from Frederick, Md., to support the confederation. "To do a wedding, we line bikes up on either side," said Stoyke. "You can do a traditional wedding, or we can read from the Harley Repair Manual."
The minister asks the groom: "Do you promise to keep her cables greased and tires balanced?"
And he asks the bride: "Do you promise to keep his gas filter cleared, change his oil and bring him in for maintenance?"
"This is America's last subculture," added Stoyke. "That's what keeps our country great."
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