Is Your SMRO an Extension of the Salvation Army
or a Motorcyclists' Rights Organization?


Special thanks to Fast Fred for this article.

"Pity the poor, wretched, timid soul, too faint hearted to resist his oppressors. He sings the songs of the damned, I cannot resist, I have too much to lose, they might take my property or confiscate my earnings, what would my family do, how would they survive. He hides behind pretended family responsibility, failing to see that the most glorious legacy that we can bequeath to our posterity is liberty!" ~W. Vaughn Elllsworth

SMRO stands for State Motorcyclists' Rights Organization. During the 1960’s the federal government began to focus on taking rights away from motorcyclists. Helmet Laws became the law of the land from coast to coast with few exceptions by the late 1960’s. Bikers realized during the early 1970’s there was great need for the motorcyclists of the United States to organize and fight oppressive laws aimed at motorcyclists.

Lou Kimzey and Easyriders set forth the battle cry to American bikers. ABATE began as a national effort in the beginning but it was quickly learned that every state was different. SMRO’s were born from coast to coast and the battles in the state legislatures soon followed. In the beginning those drawn to the cause were freedom fighters wish to dislodge big brother from their backs. Anyone willing to join the battle was allowed to join these SMRO’s.

Helmet laws have been changed and repealed in 31 of 50 states and by less than 1% of motorcyclists (Freedom Fighters) in each state. Some blame the misconception that SMRO’s were Harley oriented organizations; however most members rode imports in the early years of the movement. Efforts were made to attract import riders and even non-riders to boost membership levels.

Somehow SMRO’s lost track of the true purpose and goal. In an effort to appease some detractors many decided to show we were good little bikers and charitable citizens. Hence the birth of the charity craze and the public relations focus; we continued to enlist anyone who would join all the while. Many we acquired into our ranks were either only interested in making us appear normal or even worst just cared about charity. Freedom fighters within SMRO’s became out numbered by the influx of those who did not share the Freedom Fighters’ values. SMRO’s have and are suffering as a direct result. Some SMRO’s have faltered and become ineffective in the battle for biker rights. Many in the general public now have the misconception that ABATE is an extension of the Salvation Army.

Freedom fighters are not normal everyday Americans; freedom fighters are freedom-loving individualists that are not afraid to stand up and be counted. Freedom fighters are willing to make some noise and in some cases event to defy oppressive laws and be arrested to defend freedom. During the American Revolution no more the 25% of the colonists ever supported the revolution. Many Patriots paid a high price for their unpopular stand to secure liberty.

Easy, the founder of South Carolina’s MRA comes to mind; Easy refused to pay a $10 fine for not wearing a helmet and was jailed for the offense. The judge was even disgusted that he had to sentence someone to jail for not wearing a helmet.

Well meaning non-freedom fighters have shifted the focus away from motorcycle rights. As a result we chose to fund raise and give our fortunes to the likes of the MDA and other nationally funded groups; we gained a little attention for our charitable work. Today we enjoy the good-little-biker image, but little else. I think that much of our early success was due to the fact we were mysterious and threatening to society at large, and to legislators in particular. This is evident by the fact the first helmet protest run in South Carolina was met by many State Troopers and Capitol Police. Highway Patrol cars were placed around the whole perimeter of the statehouse.

Bolstering our numbers in and of itself does not make success more certain. Care must be taken to attract more freedom fighters to our SMRO’s. Currently we have been weakening SMRO’s philosophies and goals due to the divergence of opinions on what ABATE or the SMRO should be. ABATE and the SMRO was form with a distinct purpose. We have been moving further and further from that purpose. ABATE began as A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments; we are not a safety organization, educational organization, or a charity! We are a brotherhood of freedom fighters that organized to fight oppressive laws against bikers PERIOD! Our number one priority should always be biker rights. We should help bikers who are subjected to unreasonable enforcement of traffic laws, harassment by authorities, and discrimination by anyone. We should fight all unfair or unjust legislation that impacts motorcyclists.

Many SMRO’s now seem to veer away from any confrontations with authority. They seem only to be willing to sacrifice a motorcyclists’ life or rights to just get along. Peace at any cost is not peace and it is certainly not liberty or freedom. What happened to the officer who single-handedly doubled the death rate of the 2002 Myrtle Beach Spring Bike Rally? Some in ABATE of SC’s Horry Chapter now seem more concerned about image and turn outs at Charity events than justice. An officer of Horry ABATE has now inferred that support of the Right of Way Bills S418 and H3653 would be greater among her chapter if not for the loud call for justice in this horrible incident.

This focus on Charity and Image as opposed to Motorcycle Rights is the root cause that has persuaded many a veteran SMRO member to drop out of the movement; we are losing the very people that brought us much of our early successes. I would rather have a dozen of those freedom fighters than 144 safety/education/charity enthusiasts! Freedom fighters unwilling to compromise our liberty and freedoms with bureaucrats are needed now more than ever.

Many of the founders of ABATE can no longer recognize ABATE anymore. The brutal truth is ABATE or an SMRO is not for everyone just like motorcycling isn’t for everyone. You can put anyone on a motorcycle but it does not automatically make that person a biker. You can let anyone join your SMRO but that does not automatically make that person a freedom fighter. It is easy to get a big turn out at a charity event but just try to get the same turn out at a letter writing party. MRO stands for Motorcyclists' Rights Organization. Many charity mongers use the term MRO but don't have a clue what it means.

We get thousands to show up for the Lowcountry ABATE Toy Run each year but where are they the rest of the year? Nearly all participants of the Toy Run enjoy riding lidless but only a very small fraction has done anything to win or preserve that right. Yet some of the past leadership of Lowcountry ABATE was more interested in catering to them at the cost of selling out their hard working freedom fighters. Thankfully the tide has changed in Lowcountry ABATE but the battle is not over. The same battle is being fought from coast to coast in many SMRO’s by a few freedom fighters that are not willing to just hand over their organizations to safety/education/charity enthusiasts! The time has come to rally behind these few diehard freedom fighters and return SMRO’s to the people that really care.

Special thanks to Easy, Cotton, Hawk et al.

"The price of apathy towards public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." ~ Plato

FastFred -

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