Monday, May 15, 2017

Burly Bikers Turned Up On Her Doorstep

After A Young Girl Was Abused By Her Own Family, This Gang Of Burly Bikers Turned Up On Her Doorstep

By Caren Gibson    
February 16, 2017
It’s not the image you might associate with feeling safe: a gang of bikers roaring along the road on their motorcycles, long hair blowing in the wind, their arms heavily inked. And so curtains twitch in this suburban neighborhood as the leather-clad gang rolls down past their homes. But then the gang stops. And a girl, aged only 11, looks on nervously as the men – and women – approach her; she knows that they are here for her. 

One biker acts as a roadblock, arms folded and standing next to his motorcycle at the bottom of the street. You shall not pass, he seems to say. The other gang members pull up outside the girl’s house, and their 14 black-and-chrome stallions stand glinting in the Arizona sun. 
One by one they approach the young girl. First is a 55-year-old man with long hair and a handlebar mustache; he’s the leader. He reaches for the girl, his skin weathered by the elements of the open road, and speaks. “Hi, I’m Pipes,” he says. Scared, the girl replies, “Nice to meet you,” and her tiny hand is enveloped in his. 
Next, Nytro steps up to introduce herself. With her long blonde hair and a smile on her face, she stoops to the girl’s level. She knows what she’s going through; she’s been there herself. And then there’s D’Animal, with a bandana on his head and arms as thick as tree trunks.
Speaking of trees, here’s the next biker to introduce himself: he’s six-foot 10 inches, so he’s simply named “Tree.” In fact, for reasons of anonymity, these bikers all identify by their club names. The girl is understandably terrified.
Sadly, the girl is believed to have been abused by a relative. And although the perpetrator is no longer around, he’s still walking free as the case against him continues. The bikers, however, are not here for vengeance. No, they’re here to give the little girl some sense of security. 
This biker gang’s motto, emblazoned across their leather vests is, “No child deserves to live in fear.” They are Bikers Against Child Abuse International (B.A.C.A.) and their mission is one of empowerment. They’re here to give strength to the most vulnerable. 
Speaking to AZ Central in July 2012, “Rembrandt”
said, “The biker image is what makes this work. Golfers against child abuse does not have the same feel. The pink alligator shirt and golf shoes standing in the driveway doesn’t do the same thing.”
The President of the Jacksonville, Florida, Chapter goes by the name of Chops. He told WJCT in August 2014, “We give [abused kids] the empowerment to say, ‘This is who did this to me.’ We’re not speakers for the children, and we’re not counselors. We let them know that, while we’re around, nobody’s going to mess with them.” 
And there are lots of kids in need of their help. According to recent figures from the National Children’s Alliance, up to 700,000 children were subject to abuse and neglect in 2015. And B.A.C.A. “adopt” such kids, after they are referred to them by police or social workers. 
B.A.C.A. gives each of their adopted children a denim vest and a pseudonym. The gang then serves as an extended family; the child will be assigned two protectors, who check in with the kid weekly. And if the child needs assistance, they will be on hand anytime, night or day. 
This 11-year-old girl’s biker name is Rhythm because she loves music and dancing. And as well as her two protectors, the rest of her new family will be there when it counts, too. They’ll escort families to court hearings, and she will be a member of the group for life. 
Irene Toto, CEO of Clay Behavioral Health System, noted the impact the gang has had on their charges. “If the abuser is in the courtroom, it’s scary,” she told WJCT. “Having B.A.C.A. with them makes a big difference. To know they’re on your side and fighting for you, that’s an awesome feeling for a kid.” 
Pipes, President of the Arizona Chapter of B.A.C.A., told AZ Central, “In court, the judge asked [one of our kids], ‘Are you afraid?’ She looked up at the judge and said, ‘No.’ The judge said, ‘Why not?’ and she said, ‘Because my friends are scarier than he is.’” 
But the gang is not a group of vigilantes seeking revenge. In fact, they operate worldwide as a not-for-profit organization. They hold public meetings, and all members are volunteers at their own expense. What’s more, all members hold down day jobs and have families of their own. 
For instance, Rembrandt and 54-year-old grandmother, Nytro, married three decades ago. They now run a decorating business together. And Nytro knows only too well what the kids are going through. After all, her own abuse began when she was just seven years old. 
After her dad walked out, a young Nytro became a pro at suppressing her emotions. She was terrified that her mom would see her crying and strike her again. And for years she was pushed and pulled between her grandparents, her mom, foster care and social workers. It seemed like no one was on her side. 
There wasn’t anybody there for me,” Nytro told AZ Central. But now, she gets to play a role that was never available to her. She continued, “I get to stand up for a child and say, ‘No one is going to hurt you anymore.’ If that means we die, dang it, we stand ready to be that obstacle.” 
B.A.C.A. provides a service that social workers and even law enforcement can’t offer abused kids. A connection to B.A.C.A. means someone has their back. It means these kids have protection when they feel vulnerable or scared. More, they provide a feeling of safety when no one else can help. 
Rhythm still has nightmares about her ordeal. Her parents tell her that everything will be okay, but it’s hard to believe that when her trust has already been broken. But on such sleepless nights, the bikers will show up on her doorstep to stand guard. And there they will remain until the nightmare ends. Pipes concludes, “If someone who would hurt a child doesn’t take us seriously, that would be a big mistake.”

1 comment:

  1. Now that I like and admire! If the opportunity presented itself, I would do the same for kids! No kid needs to feel alone and rejected! ~Guardians