NYS ABATE (AMERICAN BIKERS AIMED TOWARDS EDUCATION) HAS ELECTED ROBERT “BAR” PORTER AS IT'S NEW STATE PRESIDENT, JANUARY 2014.
Mr. Porter, showing his good will and positive approach to his position of responsibility, approved of the article and interview to be completed by biker rights advocate and reporter, Hank McGrath, who is also Executive Director of B.A.D. and the American Biker Culture Center. Thus, the interview begins:
Question: “BAR”, could you give us some background on your life and your involvement in the biker culture?
Answer: I have been attracted to motorcycles and the culture my whole life – from childhood into adulthood or better yet, since gas was .20 cents a gallon! Rode minibikes and the like and my brother had a minibike. I bought my first motorcycle when I was overseas and in the military in 1988. Had it delivered to Brunswick Harley-Davidson. After 21 years in the military, I retired as a gunnery sergeant – Military police (MP), criminal investigator (CID), drill instructor (DI) and military police instructor. I began my retirement as a member of the biker culture.
Question: How long have you been a member of ABATE?
Answer: I am a lifelong member of the California ABATE, a member of NYS ABATE for 4 years, and I am also a member and supporter of several other biker rights groups across the U.S. I have been President of the Albany, NY Chapter of ABATE which I and several associates brought to life several years ago. I am still the Legislative Coordinator for the Albany chapter of ABATE. I am also the President of the Albany chapter of the Leathernecks MC.
Question: As the President of NYS ABATE, what is your direction and vision for 2014 forward?
Answer: Get right back to the roots of ABATE – END THE HELMET LAW! We need a new approach and a renewed effort. I believe the Constitution is above the laws and the helmet law IS unconstitutional. Presently, DOT is working on proposing and passing a federal law making it mandatory throughout the United States to wear a helmet. Yet, there are contradictions on how these laws and impositions of our freedoms are applied. As an example, a bicycle and motorcycle are both considered the same under the NYS Traffic and Vehicle Code. There are two different standards being used when it comes to helmets. The standard for bicycle helmets come from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the motorcycle helmet standards come under DOT. Bicyclists do not suffer harassment and profiling over their helmets, even though both motorcyclists and bicyclists suffer the same potential dangers on the road, and the authorities use the guise of “safety” in their harassment of motorcyclists. Bicyclists, on the same road facing the same potential dangers as motorcyclists, do not have to wear a helmet if they are over the age of 18, yet, it is mandatory for bikers to wear a helmet?!
Question: Who can become a member of ABATE? Do you have to ride a motorcycle?
Answer: We are a motorcycle rights organization. Anyone can become a member of ABATE, whether you ride a motorcycle or not. We have a full membership, an associate membership, and The ABATE of New York Forever Membership to memorialize members passed. I will also be presenting a proposal for a club and group membership package we can offer for those motorcycle clubs or groups who wish to support NYS ABATE. We will make a solid legislative difference by the growth of our numbers.
Question: From my experience in fighting for biker rights I have witnessed incidents where ABATE members have shied away from the association with 1%er clubs and other supporter clubs. I have also witnessed legislative members denying audience with other biker rights groups in the State and being dismissive by saying “we already have our motorcycle representatives – take your issue to ABATE and they will present it to us...” Doesn't this behavior actually harm the rights and freedoms of those in the biker culture and condone the negative profiling authorities unjustly practice against various clubs and individuals in the American Biker Culture?
Answer: It does. I believe we are in this fight together. If one group achieves in the courts or legislatively, then all of us experience the benefits. The more independent groups that are given audience by legislators, the more our issues will be heard. Although NYS ABATE covers issues that may affect all bikers, there are a number of issues we do not presently entertain. Therefore, we should not be seen as the complete and total voice for everyone in the biker culture and ABATE does not have a monopoly on the citizen’s right to address the government. All biker rights groups and organizations are welcome to work with us side by side and ALL our issues which negatively affect the biker culture are important and should receive the same respect and equal audience before the members of government. You do not have to be a member of ABATE to address the government. I also welcome all clubs, regardless of whether they are 1%er or other types of motorcycle clubs.
Question: So, B.A.D.(Bikers Against Discrimination) and the American Biker Culture Center can submit a project proposal to NYS ABATE regarding a civil rights pilot project which would assist ALL bikers in defense of their civil and constitutional rights? Not just about helmets and pipes?
Answer: Absolutely! We will fairly entertain and consider any proposal submitted from biker rights groups, such as yours, and from any individuals who seek to help protect the culture and our rights.
Question: When is the next NYS ABATE meeting and any important event you will be attending?
Answer: NYS ABATE meeting is March 16th at the American Legion Post 80 in Binghamton, NY.
On May 8th thru 10th I will be representing NY at the 2014 NCOM event in Dallas, Texas.
I plan on getting the NCOM and MRF "Meeting of the Minds" events to NY in the future. Motorcycle Rights Organizations (MRO) need to concentrate on two states; California and New York. These two states lead the nation on harassing and violating bikers rights! If the MRO's stop it from becoming a law in these two states, it will effectively prevent it nationally!
To join NYS ABATE or any chapter there of visit: WWW.ABATENY.ORG . To read more about Robert “BAR” Porter and other NY Bikers check out Lisa Petrocelli's book on the biker culture: “THE GLOVES COME OFF”