Charity motorcycle rides last weekend may have been harassed by Queensland Police as part of the crackdown on outlaw bikie gangs. Motorcycle Riders Association of Queensland president Chris Mearns says they have received about six complaints so far, but he has not been able to substantiate them.
“One was a Down Syndrome charity support ride at the weekend,” he says.
“We were getting reports that they were generally harassed and treated without due respect, either going to or participating in the ride.
“It’s starting to get to a situation where it is becoming a bit of a worry.”
He says they have an MRAQ meeting tonight where he hopes to confirm or reject the allegations.
Meanwhile he has called for calm over reports today in The Courier-Mail that the Queensland Cabinet will today consider legislation allowing police to stop three or more bike riders on suspicion of being outlaw bikies even if they are not wearing club patches.
The report has caused outrage on social media this morning both in Queensland, nationally and around the world with calls for protest rides.
Participants in the successful NSW “Say NO to $2000 CTP-Greenslip” campaign have pledged their support for any protests planned.
Former MotoGP racer Chris Vermeulen has also pledged support for a possible protest. “I am keen to help stop it if it goes that far,” he says.
However, Mearns says the report may include “a lot of misquoting and misconceptions at the moment”.
He says Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie rang at 7.15am “trying to settle down what came out in The Courier-Mail this morning”.
In that report he stated that the crackdown would include any group of three or more riders whether they had outlaw patches or not.
In a later report on the CM website, he says they would not target innocent riders.
Mearns says that is not what the MRAQ is concerned about.
“It’s the amount of rhetoric since events of the past week. It’s out of control,” he says.
“The public is getting such a one-sided view that it is turning to the situation that anyone who rides a motorcycle is fair game.
“At the minute we are in the throes of collecting various information from groups and people affected by this situation.
“We believe and have been told that certain charity rides were interfered with over the weekend.
“Those reports need to be substantiated but if they are correct in any way shape or form that is what we are concerned about.”
He says the rhetoric is “driving a wedge” between bike riders and other road users that could lead to road rage.
“It may lead to action being taken by other road users because they believe they are dealing with outlaws and that is something we don’t want to see,” he says.
“If a driver has 10 or 20 motorcycles around them, the general pub can’t differentiate between the average motorcyclist and patch club members and they may take action they feel is justified.
“That’s our major concern and I’ve told the attorney general the whole situation needs to be cooled down.”