Election Central

Colors at the Idaho Capitol: ‘Black Thursday’ Motorcycle Rights Day (w/photo)

About 60 motorcyclists, many of them wearing club colors, will be at the Capitol today in the fourth year of working to polish their public image and lobby legislators.

Kimi Williams of Nampa chairs this year’s “Black Thursday” effort and says there’s nothing dark about the day.

“Black doesn’t mean it’s depressing,” she said. “It’s just because most of our colors are black.”


The group, which calls itself “A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments,” or ABATE, won a significant victory in the 2013 Legislature that ended a discriminatory practice against bikers. Until the passage of Senate Bill 1007, bikers had to pay a full year’s registration fee whether they registered their hog in January or December.

SB 1007 extended the “staggered registration” enjoyed by autos and trucks, which begins in the month the vehicle is registered.

This year, ABATE supports Senate Bill 1277, which would name Interstate 84 as the Vietnam Veteran Memorial Highway, from the Oregon line to the Utah line.  The measure passed the Senate 30-4 and is in the House Transportation Committee.

Bikers also are talking to legislators about their opposition to laws mandating helmets. Idaho has no helmet law, but Williams said the Centers for Disease Controls is pressing the issue.

“Motocycles are not a disease,” Williams said.

ABATE aims to improve the perception of bikers. “We often get mistaken for gangs,” Williams said. “We’re just trying to put a seek in the back of their minds that we do good things, fundraising, Toys for Tots and other community service.”

Russ “Thor” Wade of Nampa is among those working on a service project. Last year, Wade founded Riders Against Domestic Abuse & Rape, or RADAR. Chapters have been founded in Oregon and Texas, Wade said.

Wade said he got interested in the issue after learning the details of his wife’s abuse as a child. “It lit a fire in me,” said Wade.

Wade, second from left, appears in the photo above, with Doug Slagle of Kuna, far left, Kimmi Williams, Rory Smith (partially blocked) of Wilder, Art Syslo of Meridian, Bob Farris of Caldwell and Simone Wade of Nampa.



Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics