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Column: Upstanding motorcyclist objects to ‘marauding’

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Next time, look up words before you tarnish people

I would like to address your Nov. 20 article “No marauding motorcyclists at Christmas parade.”
Please indulge me as I would like to begin this letter to the editor by telling you a little about who I am and what I stand for.
I am a devout Christian and a committed husband of nearly 18 years. I am a father of three who leads his family by example, not just in word. I am a U.S. Army combat veteran who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom Phase I.
I am retired law enforcement officer who absolutely loved putting on the uniform every day to go out to make a difference in this community. Not only did I enforce the laws of South Carolina, but I too abided by the laws as well as ordinances of this county and city.
I enjoy riding a motorcycle as a means of relaxation, and I was a member of the group of “marauding motorcyclists” that rode in last year’s Christmas parade.
Now, to the point of this letter. The word “marauding,” according to dictionary.com, means to “engage in raiding for plunder, especially roaming about and ravaging an area.” Another online source defines it as “to go about in search of something to steal or people to attack.”
Before I jump to conclusions too soon, I just need clarity on this issue.  
Does this article mean that I was a part of a criminal element last year that raided and roamed about and ravaged an area, or does it mean that a gang or a band of thieves, rapists, drug dealers, etc. are not allowed to come into the parade this year?
If the answer is the first, then there should have been some arrest and summons issued, but if it is the latter, then I want to thank you for protecting a group of honest and hard working African American men and women who will ride again this year for a reason that the general public did not know.
Citizens, I need each of you to know that no one does anything for no reason at all. The organizers of last year’s Christmas parade biker ride contacted positive African American men from our community and asked them to ride for a reason. There is a segment of children and young adults in “our communities” who have turned their eyes from positive African American role models to look towards those that have obtained riches, wealth and property through illegal and unethical means.
There is a segment of children and young adults in “our community” who have become hopeless, and we as a coalition of African American men and women put together something as simple as a ride through the parade to show them where honest hard work and commitment to God, family and a career could lead them. No, it’s not about a bike. It’s about showing them a lifestyle change.
In this marauding group of cyclists were honorable men that serve on city council, retired firemen and law enforcement, city and county employees, and men that are welders, electricians, factory workers who love their God, their families and love spending time with each other doing good.
The good that we do is often silenced and discouraged by articles such as this. If any of us would have burned out a tire during a parade where there were police on every corner, then that individual should have been ticketed. If any of us would have popped a wheelie in front of a police officer, then again, that individual should have been ticketed. If any one of us would have raced “during a parade,” then I would hope that Lancaster’s finest would have found a 10x10 for the person that committed such a dangerous and selfish act.
Yes, I will acknowledge that we did get a little loud, and I will address that with those that ride this year. But I will not allow anyone to label us as a gang or band of criminals, just in case that was the intent of this article.  
Again, I don’t want to jump to conclusions, but it seems as if that was the intent of that article. We invite all bikers of good moral character to come out to support our efforts in this matter. Please contact me at frederickthompsonsr@yahoo.com for ride and meeting instructions. Pay your fees before the deadline, and bring your insurance and registration information to the staging area.

Frederick Thompson Sr. lives in Lancaster.

Editor’s note
We stand corrected. Mr. Thompson is right about the definition of marauding. We did not intend to imply pillaging. “Unruly” would have been closer to the target. We apologize for the imprecise language, and thank Mr. Thompson for correcting us.