A group of nearly 30 bikers wearing leather jackets and purple bandannas rode into Liberty Park on Saturday morning, revving their engines and parking their gleaming motorcycles in a patch of sunlight on the southeast side of the park.
Heads turned as they pulled in, but the group wasn’t there to show off their rides.
Instead, the newly-formed Bikers Against Domestic Violence group drove from Farmington to Salt Lake City on Saturday to stake purple flags into the ground representing survivors of domestic violence, and to call attention to a form of abuse that has only worsened amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“When I was going through my situation, I knew about the YWCA,” said Tawnya McGrath, a member of the group who said she grew up in a household marked by domestic violence. “But I did not know about so many other resources that we’ve found just in the last month that are not really hidden, it’s just that they’re not talked about enough. It’s got to be talked about year round.”
The group formed last month, after members of the biker community lost two friends to domestic violence in the last year.
“It’s been pretty rough,” said the group’s founder, Santaquin resident Trevor Jaracz.
Several members say they’ve been involved with domestic violence advocacy over the years. But in dealing with their grief, the members saw a need to give people who may not seek traditional aid another avenue to get help.
In that spirit, Bikers Against Domestic Violence works to connect people to resources through its social media pages and also offers people a ride to safe places and even a bed to sleep in if they need to get away from their abuser.
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“That way they don’t have to spend the money on a hotel room,” said McGrath, who donned a purple cape for Saturday’s ride. “Sometimes they don’t want the judgment from their family and friends. They just don’t want to hear about it. They just want to go somewhere safe.”
The group’s members stress that it’s not made up of “vigilantes” and that they work with law enforcement any time members show up to help a victim.