Photos: Motorcyclists rally at State Capitol for individual rights -- and against gun laws
Roaring engines announced their arrival and wailing sirens accompanied their departure. Approximately forty motorcyclists from the Colorado Coalition of Independent Riders and the Confederation of Clubs lined their bikes along Lincoln Street in front of the Capitol building before crossing the street en masse and kicking off their third-annual rally.
The idea was to talk about issues related to bikers and the public in general, and to stand up for individual rights.
Topics included helmet laws, mandatory ignition interlock requirements and other motorcycle-related matters. But the one that got the most attention was guns.
After a rousing rendition of the National Anthem and a moment of silence for fallen troops, a biker known as Kid took over the microphone to lament the murder of Tom Clements, but also to laud the senators and representatives who opposed the recently passed gun laws.
Bikers from clubs around Denver lined up along Lincoln Street.
"We have lost a DOC director in this state this week, and it's a tragic event, and I hesitate to talk about gun control in light of that, but I'm going to talk about it anyway," he said. "The controlling party made a power play, and I am here to say it has been duly noted."
Kid went on to specifically acknowledge Senator Kevin Lundberg and Representative Chris Holbert for their work in opposition to the gun laws, and he called on the other gathered bikers to take those efforts into consideration when voting in 2014.
Kid speaks about the recently passed gun control laws.
Wade Eldridge, a biker and attorney, followed Kid to the microphone, speaking about the "nanny state" he believes is developing due to the encroachment on individual rights. He referred to government as a "necessary evil," and talked about the misconception of bikers in the public and popular culture.
"The stereotype is often true, but look around. What are our bikers? A lot of them are older, often a veteran, and whether you served or not, it's a very patriotic group," he said. "We're here to express and exercise our rights under the First Amendment, and we're here because we recognize the importance of the legislature."
Eldridge asks the gathered bikers to consider their responsibilities as voters.
Eldridge's main point was that even though bikers, as a group, can feel marginalized politically, they are still voters, and they still have a responsibility to hold their public representatives accountable. He stressed that this concept, even more than gun issues, was the real reason the COIR and the Confederation of Clubs held the rally.
Many of the bikers in attendance were veterans from the wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.
"It's important that legislators realize that motorcyclists are a cognizable interest group -- we have interests, you know? We're starting to organize so we can make our issues known and make our desires known. These are citizens who are really concerned about their rights, who do vote," he said.
The speakers implored the gathered group to head inside the Capitol after the rally to meet legislators, look around, and make their presence known: "This is your building" was the popular refrain repeated by each. Before anyone could climb the stone steps, however, people began pouring out of the building -- senators, representatives, aides -- because of a rogue fire alarm. With the emergency response sirens drowning out the closing statements, and unsure when the building would be reopened, the bikers dispersed.
More from our Politics archive circa 2010: "Protect the balls, not just the head: Lawmaker backs amendment requiring boys riding bikes to wear crush resistant athletic cups."