Up Colors Magazine Helmet Protest History of Abate MEET PAPPY Original Freedom Fighter Protest! Remember Pappy Remember Pappy Run Rogue of Rogues'





“For they can conquer who believe they can” —Virgil

By Randy Smith


America fought for freedom when the founders felt that they were un justly wronged. Achieving it, they then set forth to guarantee it for all generations to come. The very first U.S. Constitutional Amendment pro claims every American’s right to peaceful protest; it states that no law shall abridge “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The protest is a powerful tool, when used intelligently and directed by able leaders. The Blacks have proven that, notably in recent years. But, the pro test is not restricted to modern times, nor is it an American innovation. It is, however, basically the tool of the minority and the down-trodden.

Activist groups, such as the SNCC and the Yippies rammed protest down the public’s throat, during the late Sixties until it carried an unpopular stigma. Even so, the public took notice of their complaint. Had their objectives been more palatable, they might have been reached.

The disposition of the protesters seems to have a direct bearing on the success of the venture. More pacifistic groups seem to lack the determination or the drive to really succeed, while the more militant types excel. Take, for instance, the lack of response to the Indians at Wounded Knee and Chicanos in the barrios; as compared to the more aggressive Blacks’ successes throughout the country.

If it is true that militancy aids successful protest, what group would find it more persuasive than bikers? Most states have enacted a helmet law, which many bikers firmly believe eats at the very heart of individual rights and freedom. These same bikers loudly and bitterly complain to their brothers, but few are disposed to take positive steps to have the law re pealed.

Apparently, the reluctance to act stems from a foible in the character of human nature, or more likely a series of weaknesses: (a) most of us have the “mañana” tendency. That is: never do today what can be done tomorrow. In other words we are naturally lazy; (b) most of us feel that we are such little cogs in such a big machine, that any effort on our part would be wasted, and (c) most of us are quite willing to let the other fellow beat his head against the unrelenting wall, as we sit by and watch. If he fails, he fails alone; but if he wins, we all win.

A strong exception to the usual apathy is currently taking place in the State of Connecticut, and indeed has been going on there for some time. Several nearby states are beginning to follow Connecticut’s example, and it appears that their efforts just might not be in vain. At first hundreds, and now thousands of bikers are rising in protest, and the number is rapidly growing. What began in Connecticut as not much more than a leaky faucet, has gathered strength over the years, and is now becoming a raging torrent which is showing signs of wearing away the rock wall of legislation.

Eight years ago, the federally enacted Highway Safety Act of 1 966 went into effect. In part it required the mandatory wearing of approved headgear for motorcyclists. Special highway funds were to be released to all of the states, contingent on an enactment of similar legislation at the state level. Most of the 50 states were eager to comply in order to be eligible for the dole. Connecticut passed its helmet law in 1967.

At that time, the Connecticut Motorcycle Association, Inc. was formed by Donald Pittsley, known by his many friends as Pappy, of the Huns M/C (CC Mar 1974). The primary purpose of the CMA was and is to combat the helmet law, although it has also been instrumental in defeating other anti-bike legislation. Pappy has since hung up his colors in order to devote more time to CMA efforts.

It was soon discovered that Connecticut’s law was so vague as to be unenforceable, and it was eventually ignored by biker and lawman alike.

The law lay dormant until 1971, when a repeal bill was introduced into the State House of Representatives by Rep. Rufus Rose. CMA members had done their homework well, in the form of letters to their elected representatives. The bill cleared the House by a vote of 120 to 32.

A week later the bill cleared the State Senate, sponsored by Senator Mondani. Approval by Governor Meskill was assured by a firm election campaign promise to Pappy and the CMA.

At this time, the hopes of repeal backfired. In what has been termed pure blackmail, acting Administrator of the Department of Transportation, Douglas Toms, telegrammed the Governor stating that if the bill was en acted into law, highway funds would be withheld from the state of Connecticut, as is the DOT. ‘s policy. The funds amounted to approximately eight million dollars, a prize the state could ill afford to lose. Governor Meskill vetoed the bill.

The law remained on the books, but it was still virtually unenforceable. In fact, the Connecticut State Police is sued a traffic bulletin, which remained in effect through 1 973, that after discussions with Circuit Court officials, it was decided to take no enforcement action against violators of the helmet and eye protection laws. The municipal police departments concurred.

However, late in 1 973, William Heard, State Motor Vehicle Department Director, announced that Connecticut had been notified it would lose federal highway funds if it did not enforce the helmet law. A new regulation was written paralleling federal guidelines and by February 1, 1 974, it went into effect.

Five minutes after becoming law, the first citation was issued, to none other, than Pappy Pittsley. Pappy pleaded not guilty and insisted on a jury trial, setting a precedent which is now standard operating procedure for most of the state’s helmet law violators.

Jury trials are time consuming and they are costly for the courts. Since a very large number of Connecticut’s cyclists insist on riding bare-headed. The tickets are being issued at a prodigious rate. Some of the courts, notably those for the city of Bridgeport (Connecticut’s largest), are automatically dismissing helmet tickets, in an effort to minimize costs and reduce the docket.

A victory was scored when Circuit

Court Judge John V. Cassidento presided over a Hartford helmet case. The May 22, 1974 transcript reads as follows:

THE CLERK: Failure to wear a head gear on a motorcycle, head gear for a motorcycle—what the heck is this word—oh, yeah, motorcyclist and passenger, how do you plead?

THE ACCUSED: Not guilty.

THE COURT: Do you move for a dismissal?


THE COURT: Say yes.


THE COURT: Granted. The matter is dismissed. I might add, parenthetically, the statute is unconstitutional.

Later, Judge Cassidento further stated that the helmet law “is the same as ordering a person to wear seatbelts. I just have some qualms about the right of government to go into areas of this sort.” Shortly afterward, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 337 to 49 to put an end to the DOT’s requirement that new autos must be equipped with a seatbelt-ignition interlock system. Upon introducing the bill into the Senate, Sen. Tom Eagleton, of Missouri, stated: ‘‘If freedom is to have any meaning in this country, it certainly must encompass the right of an individual to lead his life as he sees fit, so long as it does not interfere directly with the similar pursuit by others.

Applying more pressure, the CMA, spearheaded by the Huns M/C began staging protest rallys. The first really big one occurred in July of 1 974, in and around the city of Waterford. Leading the nearly 1,000 bare headed bikers on a 40 mile ride was State Rep. Rufus Rose. Rose, 70, who claims he always wears a helmet when riding, made an exception in this case. Area police cooperated with the protest and no arrests or citations were issued.

After the protest, the Connecticut area American Automobile Association prepared a statement charging Rose with abuse of office and a violation of the public trust. The statement called for legislative censure. Rose countered by saying that the CMA was well equipped to protect the interests of motorcyclists and the AAA should stick to dealing with automobiles.

Although most of Connecticut’s 66,000 registered cyclists no doubt support anti-helmet legislation, only about 2500 are CMA members, but the list is growing. The previously mentioned foibles in their character probably keep the balance of the potential membership on the sidelines.

Imagine, if you will, a protest rally staged by say 50,000 bikers, in a state the size of Connecticut. The impact would be tremendous. As it is, even a showing of 1,000 or so protesting CMA members is raising a clamor heard around the nation. These rallys hit the state’s pocket book too, in additional police costs incurred in providing extra traffic control. Rising state costs are causing questions to be raised by both taxpayers and legislators. The arguments for maintaining and enforcing helmet laws are rather fragile, and the pro testers are forcing the issues to be examined under bright revealing lights.

Bob Steele, a U.S. Representative who is campaigning to be Connecticut’s next Governor, has already met with the CMA, and discussed the needs and problems of the state’s bikers. As a result he has introduced, into Congress, bill H.R. 16431, which is designed to force the DOT to release highway funds to the states, even though helmet laws are repealed. If the bill is approved and passed, it only remains necessary for each state to repeal their laws, and doing so will be simplified since the threat of federal blackmail will no longer exist.

Representative Steele realizes that 66,000 bikers constitute a formidable voting block. The CMA and the Huns are now making a concerted effort to register and inform all of Connecticut’s motorcyclists. Steele has promised to make every effort to gain enactment of H.R. 16431 at the earliest possible date, and then after passage he pledges to support repeal of Connecticut’s helmet law.

In mid-September I was invited by Rogue, National President of the Huns M/C to tag along during a large pro test that was directed at the State Capitol in Hartford. The event was very impressive, orderly, and well organized; but it took an unexpected turn at the end, which can only serve to further the cause by gaining additional publicity and costing the tax payers even more money.

Cyclists from all over the state, as well as Huns and affiliated club members from several other states and Canada participated in the protest.

The 55 mile ride from the Huns mother-club headquarters in Bridge port was without incident. Several hundred bikes droned along, two- abreast in a three-quarter mile long caravan, punctuated only by numerous toll-station stops. Upon entering the capitol grounds, we joined hundreds of earlier arrivals, Police squad cars were in attendance, but they kept a respectful distance, just outside the grounds.

It was an unreal scene, as thou sands of bikers congregated around the imposing old marble and granite capitol building, its gold dome shining dully in the late summer sun. For two hours isolated groups of bikers rode in from every point, adding to the swelling throng. Quick-lunch and ice-cream vendors lent a carnival atmosphere to the peaceful demonstration. The CMA public address systems cautioned protesters to keep the grounds clean and to use trash cans.

A crash helmet was burned on a cement walk directly in front of the Capitol, symbolizing transgressions on the rights of those gathered. As the thick black smoke billowed skyward, small groups of interested citizens threaded their way through the milling bikers, asking questions and admiring the gleaming scooters. Some later arrivers complained of police harassment and detainment along their routes, but even so, the turnout exceeded expectations. Estimated attendance reached more than 3000 bikers on over 2000 motorcycles.


The loud-speakers boomed that it was decided to divide into several large groups to ride to a rendezvous at the fairgrounds in Danbury. Each group was to take a separate route, meaning that the groups would travel between 50 and 70 miles depending on the highway designated.

Our group, although small in comparison, consisted of some 700 machines. Once on the turnpike the group proceeded to fill all three lanes and traveled at speeds from 40 to 55 miles per hour. Trailing cars were not permitted to pass, but since the huge assembly was proceeding at or near the legal speed limit, no great traffic problem resulted.

After riding about 40 miles in this manner, the group slowed and stopped for a toll station near West Haven. Two lanes were left open at the barrier to allow automobiles to overtake and pass the large group. Clearing the station, frontrunners putt ed slowly enough for the stragglers to catch up, in order to keep the group intact.

In typical over-reaction fashion, three State Police squad cars bore down on the group at high speed, actually brushing against some of the cyclists. The bikers were instructed to move on, as the police directed the cycle traffic on one side and the automobile traffic on the other, into con verging paths, as the wide toll plaza narrowed back into three lanes.

Quick thinking protest leaders directed the bikers to a service area, a short distance away, so that the bulk of them could regroup.

After refueling, the group leaders requested the State Police to assist them in re-entering the turnpike, but the requests were denied. The pro testers massed onto the highway as best they could, but the flow of traffic was disrupted and a tie-up ensued. The State Police sped through the ranks of bikers, running many off the highway in the process, and were waiting for them at the next toll barrier.

The police instructed them to pay the toll and to exit at the next off- ramp. Complaining that they had every right to ride on the turnpike, the bikers refused verbally. Tree, an officer in the Huns was cited on the spot for “reckless use of a highway.” The citation normally only merits a ticket, but Tree was handcuffed and forceably thrown into a waiting squad car. By now many of the bikers were standing around the car which plowed through the crowd without regard for life or limb, in an effort to leave with the prisoner.

A girl was struck and hurled onto the hood of the squad car. Two troopers grabbed her and threw her to the ground so that the squad car could proceed. She was relatively un injured when struck by the car, but her treatment at the hands of the police required first aid at a nearby hospital.

The cyclists disbanded, and continued toward Danbury fairgrounds, their original destination. Again the State Police raced through and around the pack, now joined by many additional units. A quarter-mile up the road the police forced the cyclists to the shoulder and halted the group for the final time.

In the meantime, Tree was released and abandoned on the shoulder of the turnpike some ten miles distant.

At this time, the police began disbursing the protesters in small groups, until only about 300 remained. The remainder received tickets until the 20 or 30 officers exhausted their sup ply. In all there were six arrests, including your reporter. Although I had previously obtained permission to shoot photographs from one of his superiors, officer Timmeny felt that I would be less dangerous in the local jail.

All accessible film was confiscated, but luckily I was able to pass mine to an ally, and it was spared. Unfortunately, I was not able to photograph the final events of the run due to my temporary incarceration.

The fiasco culminated in wide local newspaper and TV coverage, which served to further publicize the plight of the Connecticut biker. Public expenses will soar as those ticketed plead not guilty and demand jury trials. Additional expenditures caused by the police action can only infuriate taxpayers who are already clamoring for a lower budget. As the police and legislators now know, their problems can only be eliminated by not enforcing or repealing the helmet law.

Another drama is unfolding in the town of Milford. Approximately 100 bikers there are awaiting jury trials after turning in not-guilty pleas. The Milford trials have been organized by another Hun, Bill Malone (Billy Putt). He has been instrumental in informing alleged helmet law violators of their rights and procedures in obtaining a trial by jury. Ironically, the first court appearance date found five of the accused late. They were detained enroute because the police again cited them for not wearing helmets.

Billy explained that the law was not enforced until 1 974 because of a technicality. “This time,” he said, “we want it killed on Constitutional grounds.”

Attorney Burton Weinstein has been retained; he will represent 30 of the accused. As of this writing, the first test case has begun. Mr. Wein stein is contending that “the state statute is an unconstitutional extension of the state’s police power; that the arbitrary, capricious and discriminatory pattern of enforcement of the statute allegedly violated denies the defendants equal protection of the law; and that the regulation allegedly violated was never properly adopted.”

Weinstein also stated that “the Constitution grants an individual a ‘zone of privacy’ in which it is the right of the individual to conduct his own affairs as he or she chooses as long as it doesn’t injure or offend other members of society. Therefore, it is an invasion of privacy for the government to decree that a helmet must be worn, since not wearing one would only cause harm to the individual who chooses not to wear one.”

“If you can make a law to protect people from themselves, what is there to prevent making it a crime for a woman not to have a check for breast cancer?” he asked.

Well chosen words, perhaps, since the Circuit Judge hearing the cases is a woman, Judge Ellen Burns.

The Defense Attorney refers to the fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which, in part, states: No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Connecticut is nicknamed “The Constitution State,” which seems a likely setting for such a trial.

Mr. Weinstein issued a subpoena to Connecticut Motor Vehicle Com missioner Edward J. Kozlowski, but in expected bureaucratic behavior, Mr. Kozlowski was out of town at the time of the session, and his aides were unavailable.

If Burton Weinstein is successful in establishing the unconstitutionality of the law, a precedent will be set, as an aid to future court trials; not only in Connecticut, but throughout the United States. If, on the other hand, the accused is found guilty, at least 99 other alleged helmet law violators are standing by, ready for the time consuming and costly jury trials.

Billy Malone has not had an easy time convincing ticketed bikers to plead not-guilty. The fine for a cop-out plea is only five or ten dollars, while those found guilty by a jury must cough-up 75 to 100 dollars. Mr. Weinstein is also working on that in equitable situation, as no one should be punished for exercising his right to a jury trial. It is taking a lot of hard work and sacrifice, but it is very likely that Connecticut bikers will eventually be victorious. Other states (among them, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and New Jersey) and Canada now have similar protests in effect, all patterned after Connecticut’s efforts.

Pappy Pittsley, in organizing the CMA, has given weight by numbers to the bikers’ complaints. He issues a well written periodic newsletter to CMA members, advising them of the up-to-the-minute status of the struggle, as well as encouraging them to participate in an organized manner.

Rogue Herlihy, Huns M/C Prexy, works in close alliance with Huns and other club members around the country, riders who form the back bone and spearhead of massed pro tests, as well as attending to a thou sand details such as CMA fund raising raffles and clean-up duties after pro test demonstrations.

Billy Malone, in organizing the Milford trials has had to actually change his life-style. Billy was a free-and-easy type dude who had no use for a telephone until his program began.

Summing it up, the Connecticut protest contains certain key elements which are contributing in one way or another to bring about repeal. All of the elements mesh in the overall scheme, and all are equally important. They are:

1. The formation of the CMA, which functions as liaison, between bikers and legislators; and also serves to organize protest activities.

2. A constant barrage of intelligent letters from all over the state, to legislators, newspapers, and magazines, presenting the bikers’ side of the argument.

3. The understanding and support of several legislators.

4. Meeting with election candidates to obtain their views on the subject, followed by the full support of candidates in agreement with repeal.

5. The intelligent use of the vote, and a concentrated effort to get all bikers registered.

6. Exercising the right to plead not guilty, and to a trial by jury; regardless of the personal sacrifice.

7. Total participation in peaceful protest rallys.

8. Obtaining a capable lawyer.

9. Total dedication to the cause.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees, if not encourages, every citizen’s right to protest grievances in the manner used by bikers from Connecticut. As citizens of a free country, it is our duty to legally fight for what we think is right. Our country was not founded by, or for those, who accept unjust treatment without protest.

It takes dedicated leaders to be successful and it takes a lot of unsung heroes like the CMA and Huns members to apply necessary pressure each and every time it is needed, If Connecticut repeals the helmet law, it is because it was earned by a lot of dedicated, deserving, energetic, and righteous people. CC


A burning helmet symbolizes the driving force of  protest.
A large group assembled and departed for the Connecticut State Capitol from the Huns clubhouse in Bridgeport.
As any eastern rider can tell you, toll gates are everywhere. Can you imagine what would happen if everyone wanted change for a hundred?


The beautiful Capitol building resplendent with golden dome is not sacred when the people feel wronged.

Departing the Capitol one large group spread out along the turnpike.


The alarmed State Troopers, in a typical over-reaction maneuver, sets up an ineffective road block at one of the Connecticut turnpike toll stations.



A token arrest was made at the toll station road block, as Sgt. O’Keefe tries to justify Tree’s (the Hun who was arrested) rough treatment to an outraged crowd. Tree was later released ten miles down the turnpike.


A more effective road block was again set up a quarter mile beyond the toll station. It broke up the run, but stacked up traffic for over six miles.



Rogue, National President of the Huns M/C in interrogated as the State Troopers make an effort to locate the protest leader.


The law won the inning, but it looks like the bikers are winning the game. About 75 tickets were issued and half a dozen arrests were made.



This Article is from Custom Chopper January 1975




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