BELEN, N.M. (KRQE) – “All bikers ain’t bad. We can’t live in fear.”
People spoke out at the Belen City Council meeting Monday night to voice their concerns about the recent cancelation of the B-Town Bike Rally. One of them is the event organizer, Randy Gettings.
“We left a lot of vendors, a lot of hard-working people, you know, hanging. They spent money making stuff for this event, you know what I mean,” he said.
It would have been Belen’s third bike rally, originally planned for early June. However, the city denied the event permit last week ultimately because of safety reasons.
The decision was made just one week after a deadly shooting in Red River during their Annual Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally. It left three people dead and five injured. All involved, police said, were outlaw motorcycle gang members.
“We can’t sit there and just crucify everybody just for the circumstances of a few individuals who are kind of ruining it for everybody else and stuff,” a resident said.
After the shooting, Belen’s bike rally was postponed several times and eventually canceled.
“If you would have just said, ‘Hey, look you guys are shut down that would have I believe been easier for us because then we would have had to move just from there,'” event organizer Welky Theodore said.
Gettings said he understands why the city canceled the event but felt he was left out of the final decision. He believes there was a way to postpone the rally and hold it safely. “It was just throw it all away. All of our hard work, all year,” he said.
While Gettings and others understand the city’s concern for safety, they believe it’s a violation of their freedom. “If we start canceling stuff because certain individuals or certain things or certain events that happen, what we’re going to end up with is, we’re going to end up canceling the Fourth of July,” a resident said.
Belen Mayor Robert Noblin said at the meeting the rally was a good event but bad timing. Monday night, a couple of city councilors said it could have been handled better, but they stood with the decision of city staff. The decision to cancel was signed by the city manager, the police chief, and the fire chief.
Police Chief James Harris released a statement Monday, saying he got a tip that violence was planned at the rally. He also stated that he received advice from an expert in outlaw motorcycle gangs that holding a rally right now would be a “terrible decision.”