The clamor of the roaring engine echoed as a bearded, leather-clad man pulled into the courtyard on his Harley Davidson motorcycle. On his back, a massive black and red patch of a clenched fist reads “Bikers Against Child Abuse.”
In conjunction with the Clothesline Project, four speakers from the Utah County chapter of BACA addressed university students in the University Courtyard on Wednesday, Oct. 20.
The nonprofit organization was founded 16 years ago by J.P. Lilly, a social worker, child-play therapist and motorcycle enthusiast. Known to members by his road name “Chief,” Lilly founded the organization when he realized that the progress made in his office was quickly destroyed by child abusers.
“He came up with the idea to call on some of his brothers and sisters to lend a hand,” says a member named “Ogre,” one of the founding members of the Utah chapter. “They decided to use the leather and their tough image to put the fear of God into those child abuse perpetrators.”
Bikers Against Child Abuse, which since 1994 has expanded internationally into three continents and over 1,100 chapters, exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children and seek to empower children to not feel afraid of the world in which they live. Roger White, the chapter’s Child Liaison, explained how the process works.
“When a child feels threatened by their environment, their family contacts us,” he said. “We contact the family of the abused, then the BACA chapter organizes a ride to their home.”
They introduce themselves to the abused child, and “adopt them into the BACA family,” White said. The children are also given a vest with the BACA patch sewn on the back, amongst other gifts meant to help the child feel comfortable and protected by the members.
The Chapter President, Joe Piché, explains the most important level of intervention.
“We go to court with them. … We help empower the child to be able to stand up there and face their abuser and have him taken care of by the justice system,” he said. “We stand ready to be the last obstacle to prevent further abuse. None of us will shy away from that responsibility.”