'Proud' Darksider biker fires back at Bathurst mayor for 'fearmongering'
Dominic Doucet responds to Paolo Fongemie's calls for province to ban biker clubs associated with crime
A member of the Darksiders North Shore Motorcycle Club in Bathurst is firing back in response to Mayor Paolo Fongemie's calls Monday for the provincial government to introduce legislation banning biker clubs that are associated with criminal activity.
Club members had declined to be interviewed, but in a letter Tuesday addressed to the mayor, city council, citizens of Bathurst and surrounding areas, Dominic Doucet, who identifies himself as a "proud Darksider Motorcycle Club member," said he felt compelled to write to "correct some … false comments" Fongemie made to the media.
Doucet pointed to Fongemie's statements that the use of "MC" for Motorcycle Club on the members' jackets indicated an affiliation with the Hells Angels, and that the club was trying to recruit local young men in high school and college.
"I know and understand how we can be misunderstood and we unfortunately are used to it," Doucet wrote. "It usually just rolls off of our backs."
But he accused Fongemie of "slander" and "fearmongering."
For example, Fongemie told reporters that although the Darksiders have been in the region for a couple of years with a clubhouse downtown, members only recently added "MC" to their jackets.
"The only club that allows another club to wear those letters on their jacket are the Hells Angels," Fongemie had said. "People are starting to be afraid."
Doucet said it's "unfortunate" if some residents are afraid of Darksiders but contends members have been wearing the MC patch "from day one" — September 2014, while members of the chapter in Dartmouth, N.S., have worn the same patch since April 2009.
Doucet did not directly address the issue of whether the Darksiders have any connection with the Hells Angels, and he declined an interview.
A Bathurst Police Force spokesperson confirmed links between the Darksiders and the Hells Angels to Radio-Canada, but did not specify whether the Bathurst group is involved in any criminal activities.
Doucet said various clubs use different letters, such as RC (riding club), MRC (motorcycle riding club), HOG (Harley owners group) and WRC (women riding club), which indicate "different levels of commitment," he wrote, drawing a comparison to hockey teams. "Some are beer leagues, junior leagues, men's leagues, senior etc."
"We, as an MC, ride every day, spend lots of time planning our personal and public runs," said Doucet. "We make our club a priority in our lives."
He said some police officer motorcycle clubs, such as the Blue Knights, also use MC.
'Never have and never will' recruit
"Never have and never will. We will not approach anyone and ask them to join. People ask us. More than likely the answer they will receive will be no."
Doucet also dismissed Fongemie's suggestion the municipality might introduce a bylaw to ban bikers from wearing their colours in bars.
"Would this also apply to other public places? Restaurants? Grocery stores? While getting gas? If any local merchant has ever felt mistreated by any club member, Darksiders or other, they hold the right to decline service to anyone at any time," said Doucet.
"We've never had a problem with anyone, and we want to keep it that way," he said, adding none of the members have criminal records.
"And even if someone did, like the other 10 [per cent] of Canadians that do have one, would you base your judgment on one mistake in the person's past? If so then you might as well shut the city of Bathurst down."
'Appalled' by 'profiling'
The Atlantic Confederation of Clubs and Independents, or ACC, a group committed to "fighting against biker discrimination and profiling, promoting motorcycle safety and awareness, [and] supporting the motorcycle community and biker lifestyle," also responded Tuesday to the Bathurst mayor's comments, saying it is "saddened and appalled."
"Are there not adequate laws in place to deal with members of motorcycle clubs or any persons for that matter, that break the law? Does the mayor feel the local law enforcement is unable to uphold these laws?" the group asks in a news release on its website, which lists Darksiders and Hells Angels among its many members.
If this were any other group, more people would be up in arms saying, 'This is profiling, a Charter of Rights infringement, discrimination.'- Stephen Wallace, ACC
"This is yet another blatant attempt by a public official to spread needless fear among his constituents and all New Brunswickers," the release, signed by chairman Stephen Wallace, on behalf of the executive committee, states.
"The mayor would have you believe that these members of the Bathurst community who have committed no crimes should be slandered because they wear a patch," wrote Wallace.
"If this were any other group, more people would be up in arms saying, 'This is profiling, a Charter of Rights infringement, discrimination,' but because it is easy to target bikers because of the past misdeeds of some, it is acceptable to do so?
"We as the ACC do not accept this behaviour and we are asking the public to speak out now," he wrote, including hyperlink email addresses for the mayor and Premier Brian Gallant.
'Not in our city'
"Are we against people who ride bikes? No. Are we against people who wear bikers' clothing? No. Do we want to ban people who ride bikes in our city that are part of recreational or social clubs? No," he posted on Facebook.
"However, we will not accept the presence of a club who is associated to a motor bike club renowned for the criminal activities," he said, referring the police force's confirmation of the Darksiders' affiliation with the Hells Angels. "Not in our city."
Fongemie said he knows several Darksiders "who are actually good guys," but being an elected official means making decisions for the "greater good."
The mayor also downplayed suggestions the news reports have put the city in a negative light.
"Bathurst is not the only city challenged with this situation, but Bathurst is the only city where its elected officials say that it's not acceptable," he said.