Photo Essay

"Tell them Juarez is not lost"

Biker girl

On December 12, the Renegados MC held their 14th annual toy run to benefit the annual Juarez Firefighter toy drive. Even in the middle of the current drug war that has ravaged their city, Juarez bikers came out by the hundreds to bring some Christmas joy to the kids. Over 500 motorcycles and even more bikers and biker supporters attended the run, giving thousands of toys. As Presidente Fox, leader of the Renegados said, "On this day, the war took a back seat for this event where Juarez took care of Juarez."

The Cuerpo de Bomberos de Juarez, the Juarez firefighters, have been collecting, cleaning, and distributing toys for the kids of Juarez for 25 years. This year, the firefighters will be distributing more than 12,000 gift bags, each containing up to 5 toys, to needy kids. According to Firefighter Capitan Alfredo Salas, the firefighters work all year long, January to February, to collect as many toys to give away at an annual event on the grounds of the Feria Expo. They hold several events throughout the year, mostly closer to Christmas, like this run and a lowrider car show on the same day. When asked if current events have made for fewer contributions, he said that people have actually responded positively to their cause, maintaining similar numbers to prior years. "The people have even responded to our request that no 'violent' toys be donated. No toy guns, swords, or anything similar are being given to the kids."

The run began in the AutoHotel Las Fuentes on Avenida Tecnologico where many MCs came together as friends. Centauros Juarez, Dorados, Dragones, Gavilleros and many more were there united in one of the biggest biker events of the year. There was a metal band and performances from the "Perfect Moves" dance studio providing entertainment. When I showed up, most of the groups were wary, of course. When I stated that I was a reporter for an El Paso magazine, I was greeted with some amazement and great courtesy and enthusiasm. Presidente Fox stated that he understands the new found sentiments against his city, but that I, and the rest of El Paso, were "bienvenidos", welcome. "There are just a few individuals causing all these problems, and unfortunately, they harm the reputation of the city as a whole." The Renegados are thankful for all the bikers who came out that day and all the supporters from both sides of the border, like Old West Choppers and Bikers Custom who donated various products to use as raffle prizes.

The bikers then paraded through the city and wound up at the Renegados clubhouse in Barrio Azteca where "Perfect Moves" performed again and El Grupo La Noche played everything from current cumbia hits to American classics like CCR's "Have you ever seen the rain". Bikes of every size and style lined the street in front of the clubhouse. There were showroom new Harley Davidsons covered in chrome and 30 year old Kawasaki choppers created with hours of back-yard engineering. From the most extravagant modern bike to the most humble rat bike, held together by duct tape and baling wire, every rider there was proud. Proud of their ride and proud to band together for this cause.

"Stripper" from the Dorados de Villas MC, upon hearing that I was from El Paso, stated how happy he was that an American came to cover good news and attempt to display positive events in his city. When asked what he would tell our readership, "Juarez is not lost or in a 'war' as the media tries to portray it. We still ride the same everyday as we always have. I still go to work, pick up my kid from school, and eat dinner with my family, just as I have every other day."

Indeed, in this southern barrio of Juarez, reputed to be a particularly rough neighborhood of an already violent city, reporters like myself and Raymond, officers from the Transito Police, firefighters and paramedics, and bikers from all over Juarez, including our gracious hosts, the Renegados MC, all came together and enjoyed the day in safety and in a spirit of brotherhood befitting the season.

All quotes translated from Spanish.

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