The group of about 25 waiting in the lobby of the Abbotsford courthouse on Tuesday morning is in stark contrast to the lawyers and sheriffs usually walking the hall.
These men and women sport denim, chaps, and black leather vests with patches bearing their “road names,” including Rebel, Animal, Wheel Man, Silver Bullet and Mama Bear.
A patch on the back of their vests reads, “No child deserves to live in fear.”
They mill about, chatting quietly, until a small group appears from one of the courtrooms and moves in their direction.
The large group parts, allowing the family to sit, and then surrounds them protectively. They remain there until it is confirmed that the criminal case has been postponed for the day.
The bikers escort the distraught family out of the building and to their vehicle. The bikers mount their motorcycles and take their positions in front of and behind the family’s car, and then they all depart.
This scene marked the first time that the newly formed Fraser Valley chapter of Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) supported a family in court.
President James “Maddog” Bergin said BACA’s purpose is to “empower” kids who are the victims of physical and sexual abuse.
The organization becomes involved when a parent or caregiver contacts them. They start with an “adoption ride” in which the entire membership meets up with the family and presents the child with a teddy bear and a vest sporting their own “road name.”
Two members are assigned to become the child’s “primaries” and main contacts whom the child can call at any time.
“If they’re scared at night, we’ll park two or three members outside of the home so they feel safe,” Bergin said.
BACA members also attend court, accompanying the family to and from the courthouse and sitting in the courtroom when and if the child has to testify.
Bergin said this provides the child with the physical and emotional support to get through the court case and, hopefully, lead to the conviction of the perpetrator.
This helps the child to feel as if he/she has “a whole army” behind him/her, Bergin said.
All BACA members must pass through a series of steps, including an extensive background check and 12 to 14 hours of webinar training. Monthly meetings and ongoing courses are also included.
They are given “road names,” and Bergin jokes that some of them don’t even know each others’ real names.
Bergin said current members come from all walks of life and include business people, tattoo artists, truck drivers and mechanics. Many of them took the day off work to appear at the Abbotsford courthouse on Tuesday.
Some, like “Loki,” have their own history of childhood abuse.
“Some of my past wasn’t the greatest. I’ve been abused too, so I want to give back – to make sure (the abuse) stops,” he said in explaining why he is involved with BACA.
Wheel Man said he finds his involvement rewarding.
“We’re helping kids who are vulnerable and doing something that the cops can’t do,” he said.
Bergin said although bikers have a stigma of being rough, he hopes people can look beyond that image.
“For the most part, we are big and scary people when it’s applicable, but we are also some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.”
Bergin said Fraser Valley BACA, which formed about a year ago and is based in Abbotsford, plans to continue supporting the family who was in court on Tuesday, as well as link up with other families and agencies.
For more information or for membership inquiries, email email@example.com.
Information about BACA is also available on the website bacaworld.org. The organization has chapters throughout the world, including the U.S., Australia, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.