Using a $70,000 grant from the National Transportation Highway Safety Administration NHTSA, the State and local officers set up motorcycle only checkpoints on the two main interstates leading into Florida during Daytona's spring Bike Week.
The checkpoints were located on I-95 and I-75 in the southbound truck weigh stations on Wednesday March 9th.
Newly elected ABATE State Director, Dan Forrest said he was pleased at the turnout and the diversity of the riders who joined the protest.
"(turnout) was beyond expectations and I hope a sign of unity in the biker community." Forest said. "We had several patch club members from urban riding groups and this was far from the normal group we have attracted in the past."
Forrest said the speakers called on the State Patrol and the Governor's office to focus on programs that will save lives and not just profile motorcyclists. "The central point of every speakers message was that money needs to be spent on EDUCATION of the driving public to make them aware of motorcycles. Use the media for public service announcements, bill boards, class room training for new drivers." Forrest said.
Other speakers pointed out how the interstate checkpoints resembled police actions of totalitarian regimes and not a free republic.
"The roadblocks are a violation of our rights and are a pure attempt at profiling. The Savannah stop had 17 GSP cars, 2 Sheriff’s cars, 1 DOT car, a van filming and photographing every biker and a helicopter. This sounds like a Border Crossing in a communist country and has nothing to do with safety."
The State Patrol nor the Governor's Office of Highway Safety did not respond to a request for a statement. However, Patrol officers have indicated they will hold five more one day checkpoints throughout the year.
Forrest said ABATE of Georgia will continue to lobby against the checkpoints and added that under his leadership he hopes ABATE can become a voice for all motorcyclists and expand its mission to fight any and all legislation that unfairly targets motorcycle owners and riders. "ABATE of Georgia has suffered through some very poor leadership over the past few years and has spent too much time and effort on the 'Freedom of Choice ' bill or rather lack of it. We have been known as the helmet law people and have been shunned by many riding groups because of that fact." He continued, "We have taken the first step in unity and we must continue to grow as one voice."