September 27th, 2016
By David “Double D.” Devereaux for Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys
Bobby Colella served in the infantry for 21 years and spent much of that time overseas helping protect citizens of other countries from threats of brutal dictators. He fought in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 05-06, in Ramadi and Fallujah, and Baqubah in 07-08. Bobby says,
“I know I was forfeiting my personal freedoms as an American to protect and serve our civil liberties and freedoms on the home front – and like many of you, it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the greater good of our nation.”
Upon leaving the Army in November 2010, Bobby found himself trying to find his place in society. He met and joined the Bikers for Christ Motorcycle Ministry, where the paster was a Vietnam veteran that Bobby easily connected with. Soon after becoming a member, Bobby and his pastor were denied entrance to a motorcycle event because they were wearing motorcycle colors. Bobby was shocked, describing ‘a moment of enlightenment’ that came in the form of a simple ‘No Colors’ sign…
I was denied access to an event simply for what I was wearing. It turns out that the freedom I thought I was fighting for was a myth, especially when it came to the First Amendment and freedom to express yourself…This wasn’t the America I fought for, and it certainly wasn’t the America our brothers, fathers, uncles and friends fought and died for either.
Unfortunately, Bobby’s experience is not unique among returning veterans. In fact, a majority of Veteran motorcycle club members have been denied access to public accommodations in this way at home after devoting themselves to fighting for the freedom of expression and association. According to the NMPS, there are an estimated 934,000 members of Veterans motorcycle clubs, and almost every motorcycle clubs has veterans – even if they are not a military club.
According to the National Motorcycle Profiling Survey 2015-16, a majority of members of military Veteran motorcycle clubs have been denied access to public accommodations, both private and publicly owned. Veteran clubs have also been the victim of massive police surveillance at public events, many being harassed. Some events involving Veterans have even been completely shut down.