(for a perspective beginning even further back, see this: Biker Rogue’s History of ABATE)
In the Beginning
Back in June of 1971, a new and exciting motorcycle publication named Easyriders was introduced — a motorcycle magazine for the entertainment of adult bikers. This came into existence by the hard work of editor Lou Kimzey along with the owner of Paisano Publications. Along with Lou were Editor-at-Large Mil (Hog Expert) Blair, and Senior Editor Joe Teresi. Joe, the owner of D&D Distributors, later known as Jammer, was the one who came up with the needed funding to get things running smoothly.
About the same time that Easyriders got underway, an organization called National Custom Cycle Safety Institute (NCCSI) got going. Joe Teresi was Vice President of this group, created for manufacturers and distributors of custom bike parts. Their main function was to come out with their own safety standards for custom parts. They concentrated mainly on custom front ends and frames with raked necks. They are credited for keeping a lot of junk off the market and were able to keep Big Brother at arm’s length for a while.
In Issue No. 3, October 1971, Easyriders started a non-profit organization just for bikers. It was called National Custom Cycle Association (NCCA). At the time, dues were $3 for a one-year membership. One must keep in mind that back in 1971 no other motorcycle magazine except Roger Hall’s Road Rider was even giving an inch of space to anti-bike legislation. Yet Lou Kimzey saw fit to take on the extra burden of starting a motorcycle rights organization.
It wasn’t long until Lou changed the NCCA to ABATE (A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments).
In early 1972, Keith Ball arrived on the scene at Easyriders. He became Associate Editor of Easyriders and Director of ABATE. Through the work of Keith and the guidance of Lou, ABATE started area coordinators in different states to help organize bikers so that they could better represent ABATE on the local level. This also helped form a better line of communication. From this mushroomed a sophisticated network of state and county chapters.
It should be noted that the little funds that ABATE had in the early days went to hiring an engineering firm to determine whether a raked front end or an extended front end was safe. This resulted in two lengthy documented reports, complete with engineering drawings that established proof that they were safe. This allowed bikers to fight in court “unsafe vehicle” tickets with scientific facts — not just opinions. Easyriders, on behalf of ABATE, also picked up the tab on a test case concerning an extended front end being unsafe. From 1971-1974 most of ABATE’s efforts went into fighting such laws. Had it not been for the efforts of ABATE and Easyriders in the early 1970s, choppers would have been outlawed.
In March of 1977 through the help of the staff at Easyriders, ABATE held a State Coordinators meeting in Daytona, Florida. It was decided as a matter of policy that ABATE as a nationwide lobbying organization would discourage back patches on cut-offs. This was decided as necessary in order not to be misjudged as a “club,” either by outlaw groups, police, or Joe Citizen. At this meeting it was also decided that it was about time ABATE got organized, with a charter, bylaws, etc. Nominations were held, and five State Coordinators were elected as a steering committee to take ideas from all the members and chapters and boil the results down to a charter and bylaws.
Fuzzy Davy from ABATE of Virginia was elected spokesman of the steering committee along with Donna Oaks from ABATE of Kansas, Russell Davis (Padre) from ABATE of Pennsylvania, Wanda Hummell from ABATE of Indiana, and John (Rogue) Herlihy from ABATE of Connecticut. A meeting was set up for Labor Day at the second national ABATE get-together in Lake Perry, Kansas. This gave the new steering committee seven months to get everything together.
Bit of a mess
Kimzey couldn’t make the Kansas meeting because of a sudden illness but sent Ball, Joe Teresi, union organizer Pat Coughlin, and Ron Roliff, business agent of the Modified Motorcycle Association (MMA), in his place. At this meeting, a proposal for a new national organization including a five-member board of directors was presented by people from Easyriders.
A problem arose when it was learned that none of the board would be made up of any of the state coordinators or any ABATE people, but would be composed of people from California, led by Ron Roloff of the MMA. This intimidated a lot of hard working ABATE people. Also, none of the recommendations of the ABATE steering committee were considered.
After a lot of infighting, state coordinators were asked to send what they thought should be changed Kimzey. Lou had sent around a letter explaining that he was sorry that he had missed the meeting in Kansas and that he was scheduling a meeting in Sacramento in October 1977. Lou paid the airfares of the five steering committee members, put them up in a hotel, and then attempted to explain how and why things had gotten out of hand. Unfortunately, ABATE people who had not been invited to this meeting provoked uncalled-for attacks against Lou and Easyriders. Lou had tolerated a lot of mud slinging concerning forming a national organization; thus he stated to the people attending the meeting that he and Easyriders were relinquishing the organization to the people attending the Sacramento meeting.
Out of this mess two national organizations were formed: one in Sacramento; the other in Washington, D.C., the latter being formed by all the state ABATE organizations. In March of 1978, ABATE chapters held another meeting in Daytona. The Sacramento people sent Pat Coughlin with another proposal which was rejected by the ABATE organizations attending. At this meeting the ABATE chapters were told that the Sacramento group was not going to change its name (National ABATE) and was going to go on doing business as usual. It was decided that the D.C. base national that was formed by the state organizations should be dissolved, thus doing away with a lot of the hassles taking up everybody’s time, and that the states should get back to doing the business they were formed to do — fight state anti-motorcycle legislation.
ABATE formed five regions in the country, each region having about 10 states. Each region has a Regional Coordinator who coordinates information between the state ABATE organizations. Each ABATE state organization is now independent and on its own. Because of all the hassles of trying to form a national organization, the trust and funds needed, the probability of another attempt at forming another national organization is most unlikely.
In the meantime, ABATE people all over the country are taking care of business as always, and no matter what happens, they will be there taking care of business.
What about the logo?
Lou came across the ABATE eagle logo in an old civil war publication. The eagle is one of the largest birds and a strong flier. It has long been used as a sign of power, courage, and freedom. The American bald eagle is not only our logo but it is the official emblem of the United States. Its picture is on the Great Seal of the U.S., the President’s flag, some coins and paper money. Our logo with the 13 star shield is truly worthy of our cause, and our founder’s foresight.