Ride of Love is Serious Business for Metro Bikers | News
It's a sunny day, perfect for a ride. The air is still, punctuated only by the sound of revved up motorcycles. The bikers are gathering.
But this ride is about more than just cc's and leather and friends out biking on a nice day. It's about justice.
"From truck drivers to brick layers, to software developers, bankers, jewelry store owners, just anything," says "Bravo," as he's known to fellow riders. "Anybody that can ride and come ride with us, you have to have a certain biker mentality to be a part of us."
Biker mentality, and a love of protecting children.
"This is absolutely imperative that ya'll listen and pay attention," intones one of the leaders.
He's briefing the group, now more than two dozen strong, outside Lee's Summit.
"The man basically told us he's got zero to lose. And everybody in the way is going to go down."
The heavy tone makes it clear this is a serious ride. And the mission of these riders befits the name of their group: Bikers Against Child Abuse, or BACA.
In this case, a man is on trial in Ozark County, Missouri for abusing a young family member. It's a case that's festered for two years, and now, finally, that child is going to testify. That's where BACA comes in.
"Our job is protecting that kid, straight up," says "Thrasher," who's job it will be to organize the security blanket around a mom and her daughter from northwest Missouri.
Soon the group rides out to Sedalia, where they'll meet up with the van holding their precious cargo, and another BACA chapter. From there, they ride south to Ava, Missouri.
Missouri state BACA president "Stroker," a husband and father from southwest Missouri, knows it's serious business, and a calling.
"To think that we're not actually scary people would be a mistake," he says. "Because we can be. We're kinda' like barbed wire when it comes to helping these kids. When we're around that child, you come near the barbed wire, you get hurt."
But it's more than just protection. It's moral support. The BACA bikers escort the families, sit in court to show support, and "adopt" the kids as members.
"It's scary to go to court as an adult. Think about it as a 7 or 8 year old child having to face somebody, big thoughtless thug that has stole your innocence or hurt you. And you gotta go it alone?" Thrasher says. "Well, we're bikers, we can't make our brothers and sisters do this stuff alone."
Following a three hour ride south, surrounded by the bikers, the mother of the little girl agrees.
"At one point she started crying hysterically and they had to turn her chair around to face the judge," mom recalls of an earlier hearing in the case. "BACA had given her a little ring to hang on to so they would know they're present with her in court, and she held on tight to that ring and she told her story to the judge."
It's that kind of support that will sometimes have the children return as BACA members when they grow up. And it's not an easy task. Each prospective member must undergo a complete background check, and be a fit for the organization, which now has chapters in 34 states and three countries. Kansas and Missouri both have BACA chapters.
In this small southwest Missouri town, the daughter and her mother settle in for a good night's sleep. Outside their door, BACA members stand guard.
At daybreak, they organize for the ride to court.
"Ginny, Bad Brad, and Shamu, those people I call follow me," barks Thrasher, as he organizes the motorcade that will escort the family to court.
On the road, it's an unusual sight. A van, surrounded by dozens of gleaming revved up bikes. They roll into Ozark, punctuating the stillness of a small Missouri town with the staccato of engines. Past a farmer's market, down the main drag, and up to the courthouse. There, a few of the BACA members will escort the mother and daughter into court. They must remove all signs of BACA membership, which is fine with them.
"We're not here to intimidate. Our only purpose is to protect the child," says "Stroker".
Over two days, the scene will play itself out. The girl will finally tell her story under oath, and a jury will convict the man accused of abusing her.
And thanks in part to BACA, a little girl has her childhood back.
"It's time that we put the past behind us, so she can move on with her life," says a grateful mom.
But for BACA members, it's a good feeling too.
"You get a feeling you can't buy at Wal Mart," notes "Stroker". "When you see a child that walked through something like that and smile, and be happy. And be able to return to some normalcy of being a child. That's important."
For more information about BACA, check out http://bacaworld.org/.