ATHENS, Ill. (WRSP) — More and more motorcyclists have died while on their bikes. With summer here, that number is only expected to go up. Sunday, a Springfield group threw an all-day benefit to raise awareness for those impacted by motorcycle crashes in our area.
A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education is warning everyone to watch out.
“We lost another motorcyclist last week,” the ABATE chapter president, George Hurst, said. “People just don’t look for motorcyclists they turn in front of us.”
Federal data shows motorcycle deaths started rising the last two decades across the nation. In 2016, nearly 5,000 bikers were killed in the US.
Hurst said if a biker is lucky to make it out of a crash alive, other parts of their lives can be impacted and get complicated.
“They say ‘my power was going to get shut off or we didn’t have any food in the refrigerator’”, Hurst said of other motorcyclists in need.
Medical costs or time away from work can hurt a motorcyclist and their family if they are involved in a crash. ABATE started a fundraiser to help downed riders.
“A lot of the times the money that we give them is important to them,” Hurst said.
Sunday, ABATE threw a 9-hour benefit to raise money for those who ever have miss work because of an injury and it happened all through the rain.
“All these people still show up,” the ABATE downed rider committee leader, Phil Cornell, said. “The band still showed up; it’s absolutely awesome, makes my heart absolutely jump.”
There was music, food, drinks, and raffles all day starting at noon. The event has gone on for about a decade.
“It takes a small army to put this together,” Cornell said.
They hosted the benefit at the Longbranch Tavern in Athens.
“Bikers are like one of the most loyal people ever,” one Longbranch employee said. “And they know that without this event, it’s not going to help their brothers.”
ABATE has raised about $10,000 in the last couple of years. They help each downed rider up to $350. You can still donate, just head to their website, or message them on Facebook.
Suspected links between outlaw motorcycle clubs and armed forces under investigation
The Australian Defence Force is probing suspected links between up to 50 active personnel across all three services and outlaw bikie clubs across Australia as part of a service-wide crackdown.
Military Police have in the past two months set up a special team of six or seven plainclothes investigators to work full-time on the operation under a senior officer in Canberra.
Each has been given a handful of “targets” – serving military personnel – with known or suspected connections to so-called “one-percenter” bikie gangs across Australia, from a list of about 50 drawn up by Defence with help from the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.
The investigators, a mix of full-time plainclothes military police from the Australian Defence Force Investigative Service, reservists and seconded civilian police officers, are trawling social media and other “open-source” material and working with state police to put together intelligence profiles on each target.
The team began in June targeting military personnel with links to clubs or related criminal networks inA person with knowledge of the operation said links had already been found between military personnel and known civilian drug-trafficking networks.
The source said Defence was now taking the warnings seriously with the aim of weeding out service personnel with the wrong connections.
“If they find a picture on Facebook of a soldier with a Bandido or something, (the investigators) will follow up.
“There might be a brother or an uncle who’s a gang member. That’s enough to get them to look into it.”
The investigators have interviewed a small number of military personnel, although this has in some cases resulted in the person being eliminated from further inquiries after establishing that the links were benign.
Defence would not confirm details of the operation, saying “these are sensitive issues”.
But a spokesman said that since January 2016 “a small number” of Defence personnel had been “reported as potentially having an association with Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs”.
“Some of these reports have warranted further investigation by Defence and civilian authorities,” the spokesperson said.
“All known and confirmed members with Outlaw Motorcycle Gang associations have been dealt with administratively by Defence and, where relevant, by civilian police.
“Defence has a zero-tolerance for personnel who engage in unlawful or criminal activity, or engage, promote or espouse behaviours that are inconsistent with Defence values.
Any members of the ADF who are found to have committed criminal acts are subject to administrative action, including possible termination of service.”
Defence introduced a service-wide “joint directive” – a form of military order – in 2014 that warns of the risks of service personnel associating with “groups or organisations who engage in unlawful or inappropriate activities such as those who engage in criminal activity” but has not publicly revealed which groups this applies to.
The ADF’s military personnel policy manual warns that members are “not to be involved in any capacity with any groups or organisations involved in any form of criminal activity, including being associated with activities that may be linked to criminal activities”.
Fairfax Media understands the crackdown follows repeated warnings to the military by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission about the extent of such links and the danger they present.
“ACIC told Defence that unless they did something about, they would do it themselves, and they would write Defence into their report as having done nothing about it,” the person with knowledge of the operation told Fairfax Media.
The ACIC declined to comment on the operation.
“The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission works with a range of partners, including Defence, in the fight against serious and organised crime, however we do not comment on operational matters,” a spokesperson for the organisation said.
Fairfax Media understands Defence is considering further expanding its ban on personnel associating with motorcycle clubs to include military motorcycle clubs, because of a perceived risk that these connections will lead to contact with so-called “outlaw” clubs.
This would be a controversial move, particularly among veterans who have established clubs as support networks for fellow soldiers.
There has been a string of embarrassing and worrying military security lapses involving bikies in the last 10 years.
In 2008, former Army captain Shane Della-Vedova was jailed over the theft of rocket launchers from the Orchard Hills weapons depot in western Sydney, one of which found its way to the Bandidos bikie club. Five ended up with notorious Sydney Jihadist Mohamed Elomar. Only one has ever been recovered by police.
In 2013, a former sailor with connections to the Rebels was jailed for stealing handguns from the Larrakeya base in Darwin.
A senior ADF officer reportedly joined the Rebels bikie club after leaving the service and another, the Bandidos.
Canada’s military issued an order banning personnel from contact with biker gangs earlier this year, and has conducted a series of official probes into such links since the late 1990s.
There are long-standing connections between the military and outlaw clubs. The Hells Angels were set up in the 1940s in the US by returning US Army Air Force servicemen and club members still celebrate this heritage, with USAAF memorabilia on display in the group’s Brisbane clubhouse.
Other clubs were formed by Vietnam veterans. New South Wales and more recently widened its inquiries to Queensland.
‘We all have hurts,’ says pastor who invited Outlaws motorcycles to prayer event
A central Newfoundland pastor who invited a group of Outlaws motorcycle members to join the church in a charitable ride says it was a respectful event, about bringing God’s love to everyone.
On Facebook this week, the Windsor Pentecostal Church posted photos of a group of Outlaws bikers attending the Blessing of the Bikers, an event that sees motorcycle riders gather in King’s Point for a service and reception.
Some of the bikers invited to take part wore Outlaws Motorcycle Club vests and patches. It’s a group that’s sometimes associated with organized criminal activity.
But Pastor Robert Parsons says the Outlaws are welcome to join in the event, and they’ve been doing so the last three years.
“The highlight of the trip for me as a pastor was to be able to get the Outlaws in a circle on the field and be able to pray with them,” he told CBC’s Central Morning Show.
“We all have hurts and we all have different backgrounds, and so it was my privilege to do that. And they were certainly respectful and they welcomed that.”
Parsons said he knows some of the members who have grown up in his community, and when he first extended an invitation to the club a few years ago, they were surprised, telling him they “very seldom get invited to anything.”
“They were very respectful of the invitation and they were very respectful of what we are about and out there during the service and participating in it,” he said.
“They were certainly showing much respect and so we had no negative feedback at all. It was a great ride.”
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Parsons said he heard no negative feedback from anyone who found the patches intimidating.
“As a church, we’re about the gospel. Our purpose, our mission is to reach people with the love of Christ. It’s all about the cross, and the message of the cross is that God is pursuing people, and it makes no difference who people are,” he said.
“In all groups, in all organizations, there’s people probably that might be questionable or whatever, but nonetheless it makes no difference. God loves everybody, and it’s our aim to share the love of Christ with everyone, whether they’re bike riders or gangs or people in need of help or whatever.”