A memo obtained by Postmedia says that Nick Elmes, a firefighter who founded a biker club, is no longer employed by the City of Burnaby.
“Effective today, Nick Elmes is no longer employed by the City of Burnaby,” Acting Fire Chief Dave Samson says in the terse, one-line internal memo, which was sent out on Wednesday afternoon.
The memo’s subject is simply “Nick Elmes.”
It’s not clear whether Elmes resigned or was fired. The Burnaby Fire Department wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Earlier this month, Postmedia’s Kim Bolan revealed that Elmes and two other Burnaby firefighters, as well as two New Westminster firefighters and a retired firefighter from Vancouver were members of Florian’s Knights.
The club was recently formed and Elmes told Bolan he was one of the founders.
Members of the clubs have been appearing at events alongside members of the Hells Angels. Elmes said those events were open to anyone to attend. The Knights club was formed to raise money for charity and that no one should be concerned, he added.
Elmes was photographed with three Hells Angels members, including Kelowna president Damiano Dipopolo. Elmes said he and Dipopolo were childhood friends.
The Knights have been wearing a three-piece patch on the backs of their leather vests, meaning they sought permission from the Hells Angels when they were forming, retired police biker expert Brad Stephen told Postmedia.
He called this “disturbing.”
Earlier this month, Burnaby Fire Chief Joe Robertson said he also had concerns about the Knights and has met with the RCMP to discuss the issue.
“The city and the fire department do not condone any association of our members with the Hells Angels. We support the good work that all the rest of our firefighters do in the community,” Robertson said. “This reflects really poorly on the good work that everybody else does.”
Some of the Knights have been wearing their vests, known as “colours” on their way to work, Robertson said. He added that while he was displeased that those firefighters were doing so, advice from lawyers had told the department nothing could be done by the employer to stop employees from wearing colours on their way to work
with files from Postmedia News
Mike DeGlau, organizer of the fallen biker memorial, is hoping to have construction completed soon.
The wall of the memorial will not be able to be inscribed with the names of the fallen bikers, because there’s just too many.
“Researching all those names would be a full time job,” DeGlau said.
Supporters can still purchase bricks in the wall to support the memorial.
“This memorial is being built for our community, the state of Wyoming, and friends and family of the fallen riders that have lost their lives on Wyoming roads,” he said. “In the last 22 years, there have been 360 motorcycle fatalities in the state of Wyoming, averaging 16 per year. This is an extremely large number considering it is such a short riding season.”
DeGlau said the memorial is as much a symbol for drivers to be aware of motorcyclists and avoid future fatalities as it is a memorial.
“This memorial is also being built to help bring awareness to the safety of motorcyclists on the roads and to encourage everyone to be aware of their surroundings, and to watch for the riders while travelling through our great state,” he said. “By educating the community, the state and the people traveling through our state, we can help bring these numbers down considerably.”
President Donald Trump declared war on Harley-Davidson on Tuesday, saying its decision to shift production overseas could be the “beginning of the end” for the iconic motorcycle company that’s a darling of the Republican Party.
He also predicted he would suffer little fallout for his aggressive tweets. “The people who ride Harley-Davidsons are not happy with Harley-Davidson,” Trump told reporters later.
So far, many Harley lovers aren’t willing to pick sides in the brewing battle.
“I am 100 percent behind the president and behind Harley-Davidson,” said Ted Richardson, a member of the North Georgia Mountain Riders group who owns a Harley.
Trump stepped up his Twitter attacks on Harley-Davidson on Tuesday morning, after the motorcycle company said on Monday that it would move much of its Kansas City manufacturing to Thailand to avoid paying steep tariffs on its motorbikes sold in the European Union.
The European tariffs were in response to Trump’s controversial move to impose steep steel and aluminum tariffs on manufacturers in the EU and elsewhere.
“A Harley-Davidson should never be built in another country-never! Their employees and customers are already very angry at them,” Trump said in the tweet. “If they move, watch, it will be the beginning of the end – they surrendered, they quit! The Aura will be gone and they will be taxed like never before!”
Richardson, who has been riding motorcycles for decades, said he was willing to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, and said the president’s tweets criticizing the motorcycle company may not be an “iron-clad” position.
“It’s his opinion, I think it’s a statement he makes. I don’t think it’s an absolute statement, and I don’t think he’s meaning to disparage the company,” Richardson said. “It doesn’t affect my view of him or of Harley-Davidson.”
While Trump has aggressively attacked companies before — he notably pressured an Indiana-based Carrier plant to stop a plan to move jobs to Mexico — Harley-Davidson has a special resonance in the GOP.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson has a formidable base of support among high-profile Republicans who hail from the state, including Speaker Paul Ryan, Gov. Scott Walker, former Gov. Tommy Thompson and former Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Harley has also been embraced and appropriated more widely by Republican politicians. Scores of Midwestern governors over the years have made their Harley-riding habits part of their political personas, including Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, as well as Walker and Thompson.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin famously rode into Washington on the back of a Harley in 2011 for the annual Rolling Thunder rally ahead of Memorial Day.
“There’s no better way to see D.C. than on the back of a Harley!” Palin wrote at the time. “Whether you’re riding the open road or the frozen tundra, you’re celebrating a free spirit. What could be more American than that?”
And Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst has made her annual Roast and Ride a can’t-miss event for Republican hopefuls, with then-candidate Trump making an appearance in 2016.
Trump also has found a strong following in “Bikers for Trump,” a thousands-strong grass-roots group that gained notoriety for serving as a de facto security force at Trump’s campaign rallies.
And with Harley-Davidson, specifically, Trump had much kinder words when he met with company executives and union members at the White House in February.
“What a great, great group of people and what a fantastic job you do,” Trump said at the time. “Harley-Davidson is a true American icon, one of the greats.”
Christine Allen, who rides in the Cactus Cuties chapter of the Women in the Wind motorcycle club, said Tuesday that she thinks Trump has a point in his attacks on Harley-Davidson, but that it doesn’t mean she’s going to give up her two Harley bikes.
Allen said it was unclear to her whether Harley-Davidson was using the president’s latest tariffs to justify its move overseas, since the company already operates factories in Brazil, Australia and India.
“I think Harley-Davidson has been working towards doing that anyway,” Allen said, adding that conflicting media reports make her unsure of what to believe. “It’s so hard to tell what the truth is.”
“I would pay more if they were made in America. In fact, I try to buy things made in America because they last,” said the lifelong motorcycle rider and Chloride, Arizona, resident.
Chris Cox, founder of Bikers for Trump and a Harley owner, said on Tuesday that Trump’s attacks would not cause his support to falter.
“The president is right on here, just as he usually is. And we’re going to support him 100 percent,” Cox said on CNN. “I think this is an excuse. We’re not very happy.”
He said the production shift could provide an opportunity for Indian, another American motorcycle company. He added that Harley-Davidson’s customer base is aging, and questioned whether the company can attract younger riders.
“I myself ride a Harley-Davidson, but I’m certainly not married to my Harley-Davidson,” Cox said.
Two-decade Harley-Davidson owner Ray Tower took a different view on Tuesday. The Manchester, New Hampshire, Harley Owners Group historian said he disapproves of the president’s tariffs, and he believes the Harley-Davidson issue is just the tip of the iceberg for American consumers.
“I’m very upset with the president. I think he’s a crackpot. It’s not only going to be a motorcycle, it’s going to be a lot of things, and the U.S. customers are going to get hit with it,” Tower said. “He’s not doing any good for this country.”
Tower, who lives in central Massachusetts, said he will remain loyal to Harley-Davidson, regardless of where the motorcycle company hosts its production.
“I think they’re the greatest thing that ever rode,” Tower said. “Twenty years ago I decided to go with Harley, I wish I had done it 20 years sooner. I love the product.”
Dan Houck, a Bikers for Trump member who lives in Pennsylvania, said he has no worries about the trade issue and that he hasn’t heard any buzz about the conflict between the motorcycle company and the president.
“It’ll all work itself out. There’s a greater plan,” Houck said. “Honestly, people have better things to worry about.”
Houck also said he does not ride a Harley-Davidson bike for reasons separate from the trade conflict — and for one specific reason that might resonate with Trump.
“Harley doesn’t make bikes big enough for me,” Houck said.
Ben Schreckinger contributed to this report.