Thursday, November 12, 2009
Colors don't always mean gangs and trouble!

Butch Meriwether
Butch's Brew

LEGAL NOTICE: The names, places and dates have been changed to protect the innocent, and some of this could just be a manifestation from within the grey matter located between the big ears of Butch’s Brew.

Bubba and Gertrude Jones are a typical middle-class Kingman family who have always attempted to instill good basic values in their children. Even though they both have fairly good paying jobs, they struggle as most other families do with the depressed economy. They, as others, want to ensure they have a roof over their kids' heads and enough food on the table. They always attend church as a family unit and have always encouraged their children to get involved in youth activities and to be model children.

Because of this, their 13-year-old daughter Bobbie Jo joined the Girl Scouts about a year earlier and was diligently working on getting every patch that was available to her in the Scouting world.

Their son Garth had been an Eagle Scout who graduated from Kingman High School two years ago and joined the Marine Corps because he believed serving his country was a good thing to do. He had served a tour of duty in Iraq, was awarded two Purple Hearts for the wounds he received in combat and was also awarded a Bronze Star with Combat “V” for valor for saving the lives of his fire team that had been ambushed by terrorists. Their son was deemed a war hero by his fellow Marines.

The Saturday evening air was a bit cool when Bubba and Gertrude got off work. They stopped at their house to pick up their son who was home on leave from the military and to pick up their daughter’s favorite jacket; the one with the giant Girl Scout emblem embroidered on the back. Their daughter loved that jacket and wore it just about everywhere she went because she is proud to be a Girl Scout. When they arrived home, their son walked out the front door wearing a leather jacket with a Marine Corps Emblem on the back and he was carrying his sister’s favorite jacket.

Garth got into the back seat of the family car and they headed out to pick up Bobbie Jo. As they drove along, they chatted and decided the family needed a break from home cooking so the opted to stop by Goober’s Bar & Grill, a local hotspot located on a street just a short jaunt north of I-40. After they stopped and picked up their daughter at the Girl Scout meeting that had just ended, they drove west on one of the local streets. As Bubba drove the family car, they all noticed there were an inordinate amount of motorcycle riders traveling the streets. They wondered to themselves why so many motorcyclists were in town.

They didn’t think too much about all of the motorcyclists standing around the parking lot of Goober’s Bar & Grill as they entered the parking lot. It almost looked like the River Run that occurs annually in Laughlin. The family got out of their car, walked into the eatery, sat down at one of the vacant tables and patiently waited for the waitress to take their order.

It only took a moment or two before the waitress walked over to them and abruptly announced they would have to leave and would not be served. Confused, Bubba asked the waitress what was the problem and learned the establishment had a “no colors” policy, and because their son was wearing a leather jacket with a Marine Corps Emblem on the back and their daughter was wearing her favorite Girl Scout jacket, they wouldn’t be served.

Bubba and his family got up from the table and walked out of the eatery they had previously patronized on numerous times in the past. Bubba turned to his family and said that what had occurred disgusted him and informed his family they would never eat at that establishment again. He also said that he would tell all of their friends and associates what had happened, hoping they too would never again patronize the establishment.

As they began to walk outside to where their car was parked, the Jones family glanced over to the motorcyclists standing outside the eatery and noticed most of bikers also had patches on the back of their jackets. Some of the riders in the parking lot belonged to a Christian motorcycle club and had a patch with a cross embroidered on it, a couple of others had jackets with Chevrolet Corvette designs proudly displayed on their back, some had big HOG (Harley Owners Group) patches on their backs and others just seemed to be there to support the masses. It also appeared the motorcyclists had been refused entry to the eatery or were there to protest the “no colors” policy.

Is the above example just a hypothetical situation and probably would never happen in our sleepy little town in Northwestern Arizona? Who knows?

But we must ask ourselves where do you draw the line? How does a business owner determine who will not be allowed to eat in their establishment? Yes, the owner may have a sign posted that states, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” Does the owner draw the line with a motorcycle rider with a HOG patch on the back; a military combat veteran proud of his service who displays a military patch on the rear of his jacket; the Girl Scout with a large patch on the rear of her jacket; the Red Hat Ladies wearing their club’s colors; a bowler wearing his team shirt with the sponsoring business plastered on his back; and/or a group of softball players wearing their team uniform?

Is there any real documented evidence of a particular group wearing their “colors” or patches causing problems in Kingman in recent years, or is it just self-perceived paranoia by certain people and them “blowing it out of proportion?” Have these owners been told by possibly one official it would be in their best interest to deny service in their establishments to certain people with patches? Have there been innuendos of losing their business licenses to serve food or alcohol if they serve patched-motorcyclists? Or even worse, have they been told the Mohave County Public Health Department might make numerous visits to their establishments to ensure compliance with regulations? Has there been a heavy-handed attempt by a select few to keep patched-motorcyclists from being able to enjoy an evening out at a local eatery or watering hole? Have officials sat adjacent to certain businesses to observe motorcyclists departing these places and then stopping them for no apparent reason other than to harass them? Are some owners of businesses mum on what they have been told because they are afraid of retaliation?

I honestly don’t know, but if there is enough smoke, there must be fire. And if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and walks like a duck – then it must be a duck.

And how about the business owners either being made or suggested to institute a “no colors” policy or are they just running scared because someone told them they would experience problems? Just because someone wears a patch on the back of their jacket doesn’t mean they will cause problems. What keeps that same person from coming into the establishment, not wearing their patched jacket and starting a fight?

I wasn’t going to mention the Hells Angels or Vagos motorcycle clubs, but then I started thinking to myself. Even if the members of these two groups or others do not enter an establishment with a jacket with patches because of a “no colors” policy, what precludes them form wearing a T-shirt? Just about everyone who has attended a motorcycle rally or the River Run knows there are T-shirts for sell. Some for sale say, “Support Your Local Red & White,” “Support Your Local 81,” “I’m A 1%er,” and there are even bright green T-shirts. Yes, we all know the examples normally mean a certain club or gang. However, just because someone owns and wears one of the above listed T-shirts doesn’t mean they belong to a gang or motorcycle club. Just because someone wears a T-shirt depicting the world famous Chicken Ranch in Pahrump, NV, doesn’t’ mean they patronize a brothel. It’s obvious they just think the T-shirt is “cool” and they enjoy wearing it.

Are we now going to not allow individuals from patronizing a business just because they have tattoos plastered up and down their arms? I personally know a lot of people that have chosen to have many tattoos “inked” on their bodies. Some are successful business owners, and just because they have tattoos, doesn’t make them bad people or label them as undesirables. Darn, I even have a tattoo myself!

I am beginning to believe that the “no colors” policy by certain businesses in the county may teeter on discrimination. Gee, that almost sounds like a class-action lawsuit in the works, and I honestly could see the American Civil Liberties Union or the Southern Poverty Law Center showing up on buses filled with advocates/attorneys ready to represent the discriminated masses.

The bottom line is, if someone enters an establishment and causes problems or is rowdy, the owner has the option to take action; either ask the particular person to leave and refuse service. Then if the person does not heed the owner request, call local law enforcement to handle the situation.

Don’t take it out on some old dude or “dudette” who was a successful business owner who invested his or her money wisely, owns a Harley-Davidson or a Honda Gold Wing and likes to wear a nice jacket with a patch on the back.

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