In case you are unfamiliar with toy runs, they are about bikers of all persuasion getting together to help disadvantage children during a bad time in their life. Or another way to say it is these are children who would have a minimal or no Christmas had it not been for the direct effort of a toy run event. Most if not all of the toy runs are supported by ABATE members and ABATE of Oregon exists to promote the rights and interests of all motorcyclists, both patch holders and independents alike.
But, there is an unfortunate pattern developing in law enforcement in some parts of the country which was visible in Grants Pass, Oregon on October 3rd.
Officials stated that police and fire personnel would not to take part in a charity “toy run” because members of the Vagos MC were in attendance. Specifically Deputy Chief Bill Landis told the Daily Courier that the city considers the Vagos MC to be a criminal organization and took what amounts to a “there goes the neighborhood a’tude.”
Motorcycle clubs are often prominent at charity events, such as toy runs. The non-motorcycle riding public might conclude from the city’s police and fire personnel actions that any motorcyclist attending a toy run is possibly affiliated with a criminal enterprise. It’s true that the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has weighed in on the topic complaining of the bad publicity for motorcycling in general caused by so-called “outlaw” clubs. They’ve previously stated that the presence of these clubs at charity events has actually harmed the needy by driving down public participation and reducing donations. The shootout’s between rival motorcycle clubs in the midst of a charity toy drive have not helped. In fact, they have influenced authorities in some states to attempt a ban on certain clubs from charity events, or to restrict the wearing of colors at those events. This in turn prompted litigation in Pennsylvania on the unfair exclusions.
Before you get the wrong idea… does giving presents to boys and girls make up for bad things that some of the motorcycle club members do? No. But, neither should we consider ALL cops bad because some of them instead of catching criminals ARE criminals?
I’ve participated in a number of toy runs and find this maneuvering and attempt to cast a guilt by association on what otherwise would be acts of kindness for kids very disappointing.
Photo courtesy of ABATE.