Citizens of Santa Ramona Valley can rest a bit easier tonight. With the rise in domestic violence and sexual assault cases, help is coming from an unexpected source. The Hell's Horsemen Motorcycle Club has stepped up as a part of the "Bikers Against Domestic Violence" campaign. This campaign's goal is to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to feel safe and protected. Motorcycle Club members escort survivors to police stations and to court appearances in the hope that the bit of protection will help the survivor feel secure.
"As owner of Alley Cats, I employ a lot of women. It's my job to protect them from unwanted advances," Victor Rolakov, President of the Hell's Horsemen Motorcycle Club and veteran of the U.S. Army said. "And as a member of the community here, the [motorcycle] club thought it would be in everyone's best interest to help the women feel safer."
All participants in the Bikers Against Domestic Violence program are subject to background checks. If any member has a conviction of assault upon a woman, they are excluded from participating in the program. "Bikers have a bad reputation," Tiago Matoa, Treasurer of the Hell's Horsemen Motorcycle Club and veteran of the U.S. Navy said. "But not all of us are like that. Women shouldn't be afraid to report their assault or to seek justice. If we can help just one woman feel protected, then we've done our job."
Horseman Vice President and U.S. Army veteran Gunnar Ragnarsson adds "The Horsemen have several charities and causes that we support, but this is the one we most strongly believe in, and this isn't just a Santa Ramona only kind of thing. Hell's Horsemen is one of the largest Motorcycle Clubs in the world, with thirty nine chapters in twenty nine U.S. states, along with twelve chapters in seven other countries. We run a "Bikers Against Domestic Violence" campaign out of every chapter. That's how much we believe in it, and how dedicated we are to standing up for victims of it. We hope that the citizens of Santa Ramona will join us in supporting this cause, and help protect the rights of victims."
The Chronicle contacted Santa Ramona Police Chief Sarina Jade for her thoughts on what the Motorcycle Club is trying to accomplish for the city. She had this to say. "I welcome community involvement of this kind. I served in the Army myself so I am not surprised to hear that so many of Hell's Horsemen are veterans. We have a long history of taking serving our community. Domestic and sexual violence against women and men is one of the crimes that I feel gets the least justice for victims. The perpetrator often serves minimal time for the crime, if at all, and the victim is left living with the life time trauma. "
"I'd like to extend an offer to the club. I'd like to propose we do a joint fund raiser, with all funds raised going to victims of domestic and sexual violence. We all know the officers working at the police department are called pigs. I propose we have a contest where the PD will donate cutting boards in the shape of pigs and the great people of Santa Ramona Valley will decorate these cutting boards, perhaps with their favorite cop, a logo of the PD or just something in support of stopping domestic and sexual violence. Then we'll take these decorated boards and have an auction. The Club is welcome to contact me and we can work out the details. Victims deserve to feel safe and if Hell's Horsemen can do that, then they will have the support of Santa Ramona Police Department."
After hearing about Jade's response, Ragnarsson added "I absolutely love the Chief's idea, and will be contacting her on when we can set up such an event. Anything we can do to raise awareness for this cause."
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault, please contact your local authorities. The Hell's Horsemen have provided their contact information if needed to make that process easier. Call Victor 'Cage' Rolakov (zander.bracken); Gunnar Ragnarsson (jameskillian) or Marcus ϮℜαɠєϮ O'Connor (ken.spaartza)