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Target of rant, other bikers ride against racism through Dorchester

More than 50 motorcyclists took off from Fields Corner Sunday afternoon to ride through the streets of Dorchester in a stand against racism and the recent tirade by a white man aimed at two black Boston residents.J.D. Capelouto for The Boston Globe

Less than a month ago, NeNe Judge had just pulled over her motorcycle in Dorchester when she was the target of a racist rant from a white man who screamed at her and her husband to get out of “my neighborhood.”

So on Sunday, Judge did the opposite of what he told her to do. She organized a ride for more than 50 motorcyclists through Dorchester, in a united stand against racism.

“I hope it sends the message that we all can live in peace, as one,” said Judge, a black 38-year-old Roslindale resident. “People shouldn’t be afraid to pull over in somebody’s neighborhood because they are scared they’re going to get attacked because of their race, their color, or what they ride on.”

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The group rode from Fields Corner to Adams Street, to near the spot where the incident took place. A cook-out was planned following the ride.

Judge recorded a video of the man, later identified as 54-year-old Paul Sheehan, ranting at her and her husband on Aug. 3. The couple had pulled over their motorcycles on Chelmsford Street because of a roadblock, Judge said.

She posted a portion of the profanity-laced diatribe on Facebook, and it quickly went viral, garnering more than 900,000 views.

“You [expletive] animals, shooting [expletives] in my neighborhood. I pay a mortgage, get the [expletive] out of my neighborhood, this is my [expletive[ neighborhood,” Sheehan said, according to a police report of the incident.

After the exchange, Sheehan was walking up Adams Street, repeatedly screaming epithets including the n-word, the report stated.

Sheehan was arrested and charged with threat to do bodily harm, a civil rights violation with no bodily injury, threat to do property damage, and disorderly conduct, police said on Friday.

Judge, a union painter who is studying construction management at Wentworth Institute of Technology, said the interaction was overwhelming and nerve-wracking, and “made me not even want to speak to people for a little while, because you don’t know what their reaction’s going to be.”

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At Sunday’s gathering, Judge wore Wonder Woman socks and a white shirt with purple decoration that spelled out “Ride Against Racism.” It matched her bike, a purple custom-painted Suzuki 600 named “All Rise 617,” which she has ridden for three years.

“She even lights up at night,” Judge said, also referring to her bike as “my first baby girl.”

Around her, motorcyclists from diverse backgrounds wore custom helmets, leather jackets, tattoos, and patches that showed off their biker cred.

The bikes’ engines roared as they took off, after the group’s leaders announced “kickstands up” at about 3:45.

Some were classic black Harleys; others sported red flames or shiny blue finishing. Bikers came from as far away as Cape Cod.

Racism and discrimination have been issues in Boston “for years, but it’s time to change,” said Nate Sanders, 60, who has lived in Hyde Park for 40 years.

“This is something that’s got to be addressed,” he said, sitting on his turquoise Honda Gold Wing. “There’s some people, they’re still back into this old-day stuff.”

Participants in Sunday’s ride said the Boston-area biker community is diverse, unified, and friendly. Sanders, for example, didn’t know Judge before Sunday, but he was still eager to show solidarity.

“That’s what we do,” he said, “We all support each other.”

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Ian Blanton, 50, rode his 2005 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe up from Brockton to join the ride. The motivation behind the event spoke to him, because “this is something direct and personal,” he said, wearing sunglasses and all-black clothing.

“This,” he said, “is for something that happened that shouldn’t have happened.”


J.D. Capelouto can be reached at jd.capelouto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.