NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
Friends; It has come to our attention that one of the names of a Silver Spoke Award recipient for MEDAI was misspelled, so please either use the corrected version of this month’s NCOM BIKER NEWSYTES below or correct the name Melanie Schwarte (NOT Melania) of Thunder Roads Magazine – Iowa in the 5th paragraph of the NCOM CONVENTION coverage in the first newsbit.
The NCOM Silver Spoke Award is a high honor and well-deserved by everyone bestowed such recognition, so it’s important to ensure that proper credit goes where it is deserved, and our NCOM staff apologizes for this error..
NCOM CONVENTION MOBILIZES BIKERS RIGHTS ACTIVISTS IN MOBILE
The National Coalition of Motorcyclists was founded over three decades ago during the turbulent formation of the bikers’ rights movement to foster unity among diverse segments of the motorcycling community in order to advance a more cohesive political agenda. Unity and cooperation were the buzzwords at this year’s 33rd annual NCOM Convention in Mobile, Alabama as hundreds of representatives from Motorcyclists Rights Organizations (MROs), clubs and associations from across the country came to listen, learn and share information on a variety of issues important to today’s riders.
“While not the largest attendance at an NCOM Convention, those who were there had a good time and the Convention was a success,” notes Convention Committee Chairman David “Animal” Reid, who says “Attendees at the various seminars and presentations were attentive, asked pertinent questions and left with current information on a wide range of subjects and issues.”
Among the many meetings, seminars and breakout sessions conducted throughout Mother’s Day Weekend, May 10-13, 2018 at the Renaissance – Riverview Plaza Hotel, were seminars on civil rights, profiling, RICO, veterans affairs, motorcycle insurance, and featured a Mock Legislative Session presented by the NCOM Legislative Task Force. “The Mock Committee Hearing went over very well,” says NCOM-LTF Chairman Frank Ernst, adding that “Those in attendance gave our committee much positive feedback and they appreciated the information provided by the LTF,” including a new “Biker’s Guide to Making Law” free informational brochure on how to impact the legislative process.
Spreading some good news finally, after more than three years in litigation, A.I.M. Attorney Bill Smith of Texas gave an update on the deadly Waco shootings and reported that most of the nearly two hundred bikers arrested and charged under RICO with murder have now had their cases dismissed, including longtime bikers rights activist Paul Landers, former NCOM-LTF Chairman who had to resign due to the miscarriage of justice that cost many innocent Freedom Fighters their jobs, homes, relationships and even children taken from them.
During the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet on Saturday evening, several honorees were recognized for their contributions to “Improving The Image of Motorcycling”, including; GOVERNMENT: New Hampshire State Rep. Charlie St. Clair, Executive Director of Laconia Motorcycle Week; MEDIA: Vernon & Melanie Schwarte of Thunder Roads Magazine – Iowa; LEGAL: Michael DeKruif, AIM Attorney—California; ENTERTAINMENT: Stunt Rider Bubba Blackwell; and NCOM’s highest honor, the Ron Roloff Lifetime Achievement Award, was presented to Charlie Boone of CBA/ABATE of North Carolina, member of the NCOM Board of Directors.
Next year’s 34th Annual NCOM Convention will be held May 9-12, 2019 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Orlando, Florida. For further information, contact NCOM at (800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
TWIN PEAKS CASES UNRAVEL
Three years ago on May 17, 2015, the bodies of nine dead bikers lay in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant in the infamous Waco shootout as the District Attorney had police round up and arrest everyone there to attend a Confederation of Clubs meeting.
Many of the nearly two hundred bikers arrested that night would spend the next several weeks jailed on million-dollar bonds. It was a risky legal strategy, one that had never been tried on this scale: Throw a wide net around a complicated crime scene and charge everybody involved with engaging in organized criminal activity.
Now, with the 3rd anniversary of the cases upon us, the failure of that audacious strategy has become clear as prosecutors dismiss most of the cases, the district attorney lost re-election by a landslide, and 130 bikers line up to sue over civil rights violations. The only case that has gone to trial ended in a hung jury and mistrial in November.
“In the last three years, the 192 bikers arrested in the Twin Peaks shootout have lived under a cloud,” reports the Waco Tribune. “Some have languished in jail, lost jobs, lost vehicles or lost spouses. In some cases, ex-wives used their arrests to seek modifications in child custody or visitation orders. Most were under strict bond conditions that restricted their travel and freedom to associate with their friends.”
The Twin Peaks debacle may also have ended a promising political career for D.A. Abel Reyna, who suffered an overwhelming defeat in the March primary in which his opponent accused him of corruption and prosecutorial overreach. Since the electoral loss, Reyna’s office has dismissed 124 cases en masse, and has re-indicted 24 remaining defendants on a variety of charges including riot, murder and tampering with evidence, superseding the original organized crime charges.
“Meanwhile, the raft of civil lawsuits stemming from the Twin Peaks cases leaves the city and county in potential financial jeopardy,” according to the Waco newspaper, noting that the massive volume of cases had put a severe strain on court operations and on county resources already.
CALIFORNIA MOTORCYCLE CLUB CLAIMS PROFILING AND POLICE HARASSMENT
A video posted recently on YouTube shows members of the Jus Brothers Motorcycle Club “doing nothing wrong” when a Sonora, CA police sergeant started harassing them and photographed the license plates on their parked motorcycles. “They say police unlawfully profiled the club members as a motorcycle gang,” reported the Modesto Bee newspaper.
Jus Brothers members from its Mother Lode and Stanislaus County chapters were waiting for a club event to begin at the nearby Intake Grill restaurant and sports bar, a monthly meeting geared toward sharing information about motorcycle legislation and is open to the public.
“We get this kind of hassle from Sonora PD all the time,” a member told The Bee. “I think they’re just trying to keep us out of downtown. They come around taking pictures of our bikes, nitpicking to see what they can find.”
Club members in the video (www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZN4fDjL17M) tell the sergeant that they plan on posting the video online with the department’s phone number, so callers can tell officials what they think of it: “That way America can see what it’s like to live in a police state!”
Another Jus Brothers member in the video asks the sergeant if police will do the same to the other vehicles parked along the street, and the sergeant seems to indicate they’re only doing this to “outlaw motorcycle gangs.”
The Sonora Police Department has responded to the allegations of profiling local bikers; “The police sergeant in the video was simply engaging in intelligence gathering on a public street,” according to the official police news release.
In the video, the Jus Brothers members tell the police sergeant about Assembly Bill 2972, a bill to prohibit peace officers from engaging in “motorcycle profiling.” If passed, police would not be allowed to consider a person riding a motorcycle or wearing motorcycle or motorcycle club-related clothing as a factor in enforcement decisions.
MOTORCYCLE CLUB RETALIATES WITH CYBER ATTACK
Management at Marion Hotel in Winnipeg, Manitoba received a harsh dose of virtual reality as they suffered the wrath of the Manitoba Nomads, a chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
According to a news posting on www.rideapart.com, “It all started when members of the Nomads were refused access to the hotel for sporting their colors.” Unwilling to let the offense go unpunished, the chapter President invited his people to boycott the establishment. The members joined forces and on March 27 targeted their Facebook page by submitting a tsunami of one-star reviews. This lowered the hotel’s otherwise respectable rating of 4.5 to a mediocre 3 overnight, forcing the hotel to take down its page.
“Hell hath no fury like a biker gang scorned, and the gang proceeded to do the same with the hotel restaurant’s page,” even turning to the Marion Street Eatery’s TripAdvisor page.
Previously, the club expressed disagreement with what they considered discrimination against bikers by targeting Headingley Sport Ltd./Indian Motorcycle Winnipeg for forbidding colors from a riding event. “Once the shop withdrew from the event, the perpetrators were asked to modify their ratings, which they did.”
A ROAD TO ZERO MOTORCYCLES
A recently released National Safety Council report entitled “A Road to Zero” is the federal government’s vision for achieving zero roadway deaths by 2050, but it fails to identify any significant procedures to reduce motorcycle fatalities except for helmet laws and hi-tech.
Despite input from motorcycle organizations, the NSC relies heavily on automotive technologies such as driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles to pave the way to a safer future, ignoring such rider safety issues as motorcycle awareness, rider training, impairment, distracted driving and proactive measures to prevent car-versus-motorcycle collisions.
The report also endorses using insurance to price some high risk operators and vehicles off the road, opening the door to allow insurance companies to effectively achieve zero motorcycles.
ZERO EMISSIONS, ZERO DEATHS, ZERO TOLERANCE
Bandit and his Bikernet Crew at www.Bikernet.com posted on their blog about a California Air Resources Board meeting regarding new rule making for motorcycles. Every manufacturer of motorcycles was there, as CARB talked about embracing all aspects of the market before making their recommendations in 2020…that’s the good news.
“They discussed anti-tampering, competition with the EU and Zero emissions,” writes Bandit. “They talked about moving California to zero emissions by rebates on electric bikes, and they want California riders to be riding 5 million electric bikes by 2025 by executive order from the nice California Governor.”
Bandit et al go on to state their case:
“Two points: One is that word Zero again. They use that word in two other regulatory segments, Zero deaths on the highways and Zero tolerance when it comes to drunk driving or drugs. Zero sounds good from one side of the coin, but the other is ultimate control or Zero Freedom.
The other point I hope to make is that motorcycles represent such a small number in the emissions mix we should be left alone. One of the administrators mentioned two areas of emissions they walked away from and I hope to help make motorcycles a third or at least the aftermarket motorcycle industry.”
MILLENNIALS’ STUDENT LOAN DEBT HURTS MOTORCYCLE INDUSTRY
Student loan debt has been hindering millennials for years; now it’s causing harm to the motorcycle industry, according to MarketWatch.com, which further states the motorcycle industry has been increasingly struggling due to millennials’ disinterest in purchasing motorcycles in light of financial burdens.
Young millennials and Gen-Z/Millennials, born between 1990 and 2003 respectively, are two-thirds as likely to be interested in motorcycles as baby boomers during their pre-family stage, Bernstein financial advisers say. Yet, even an interest in motorcycles may not be enough to keep the industry alive, as “The average millennial has almost twice as much student debt today during their ‘pre-family’ life stage as did the average Gen Xer,” according to Bernstein analyst David Beckel. “That may not sound like a large enough increase in debt to sway one from buying a motorcycle,” Beckel said. “But for the individual 20 million millennials with student debt, the difference between $15,000 and $26,000 of student debt is $130/month, which is the equivalent to a monthly loan payment on an $8,000 bike.”
In 1990, 50% of college undergraduates had taken out student loans with an average borrowing of $15,000. By 2012, up to 70% of undergraduates had taken out student loans with an average borrowing of $25,000.
The typical new motorcycle will cost around the same as today’s average student loan debt, which makes it difficult for young millennials to purchase cars let alone a motorcycle.
Bernstein analysts additionally theorized that rebellion, the characteristic often attributed to motorcycle culture, doesn’t appeal to debt-burdened millennials like it used to appeal to older generations, who are aging out as the lead target audience.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “A free society is a place where it’s safe to be unpopular.”
~ Adlai Stevenson (1900-1965) American lawyer, politician and diplomat