DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., March 10 (UPI) -- A Christian biker in Florida is campaigning for restaurants to allow him and fellow bikers to wear their "colors" inside the businesses.
Bobby Colella, 43, said he wants Daytona Beach restaurants and bars banning bikers from wearing their patches inside the businesses to take down their signs banning "colors" because the patches represent freedom of expression, the Orlando Sentinel reported Monday.
Many bars and restaurants ban "colors" to prevent rival gangs from starting trouble inside the eateries. The patches are often used to represent group affiliations ranging from gangs to veterans' organizations and religions.
Colella, an Army veteran, said his patches represent his membership in the Christian group Bikers for Christ. He said about 100 bikers attended his rally last week seeking to convince local businesses to end their bans on displays of patches.
"I think a lot of people who put these signs up on the walls they don't understand what it took for our freedoms," Colella said.
"If they segregated any other part of the community there'd be outrage," he said. "But bikers with patches on their back, not so much."
Charles Calandra, a Tampa attorney and member of the Latin American Motorcycle Association, said he does not mind removing his patch-covered vest when he goes into one of the businesses.
"I don't see it as a freedom issue," Calandra said. "It's just business."
Daytona police Chief Mike Chitwood said the bans on color displays inside bars help prevent gang violence during the city's March 7-16 Bike Week.
"The last thing I need," Chitwood said, "is a motorcycle gang war, or for them to get involved in something that tarnishes the image of the event."