Guzzling Gas, Backing Brigitte
After spending more than two weeks at a Staten Island psych ward, Brigitte Harristhe 26-year-old woman accused of killing her father and cutting off his peniswas arrested last Thursday on charges of manslaughter and second-degree murder. Harris's father, Eric Goodridge, reportedly raped and molested her for years before she allegedly strangled him to death. The murder has generated an onslaught of sympathy for the accused killer (see ""Lady Vengeance," Runnin' Scared, August 8).
The roster of Harris's sympathizers includes a number of expected folks, including her own family and local politicians. But there's also an unlikely band that has pledged its support: members of Trucked Out, an SUV Club based in Brownsville, Brooklyn.
"I don't condone what she did, but I can understand why she snapped," says Lance Goodwin, the club's president. "We just wish she could have gotten some help way ahead of time, before all this happened."
Sure, Harris is someone who, despite killing her own father, has generated a lot of sympathy. But an SUV club? "We are able to afford SUVs and the gas and insurance on them, so we consider ourselves a little blessed," Goodwin says. "So for the people less fortunate that can't afford that, we want to give back."
Things are so good for these owners of road behemoths that Trucked Out can afford a clubhouse, though in notoriously down- and-out Brownsville. On a quiet evening last week, a half-dozen Tahoes and Navigators with tinted windows and custom rims lined the street outside the place. When a duo of leather-clad women rolled up in a white Expedition, a couple of local men across the street loudly wondered if they were "dancers." In fact, the clubhouse used to be a strip joint. And the ladies that hang out herethey call themselves the Trucked Out Divashave "club names" like Strawberry, Buttercup, Fatal, and Black Beauty.
If leather-clad women with club monikers and a hangout in a former strip joint all sound like outlaw-motorcycle-club territory, the comparisons fall apart inside. Trucked Out's sanctuary is more community center than anything else. These are V8-driving soccer moms, after all. A handful of children played together while their parents conversed or shot pool. Laptops were scattered about, available for neighborhood kids to use after school. A large poster hung near the entrance advertising an upcoming "parent empowerment" seminar, hosted by State Senator Eric Adams, who is also supporting Harris.
For the Trucked Out parents at the clubhouse, the sins of the father outweighed those of Brigitte Harris.
"I feel strongly about the case," says Vonda Lee, a/k/a Brown Sugar, a member who digs the scene but doesn't actually drive an SUV herself. "I have children of my own, and for me to hear that she was molested at the age of threethat really hurt."
Sympathy for Harris has continued to grow since she was taken into police custody. Sexual-abuse survivors have sent messages of support, as have Harris's goth friends, who are planning a concert to raise money for her defense fund. Meanwhile, Trucked Out members are calling on folks to attend a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. on September 10 at Staten Island's Salem Free Church. They'll be hard to miss: the leather-clad drivers of SUVs with multiple television screens and air horns loud enough to make eardrums burst.
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