By David “Double D” Devereaux On March 18th, 2020 the state of Idaho became the 4th state to pass a law addressing the issue of motorcycle proﬁling.
In the midst of the global corona virus pandemic there is not much “good news”. But for motorcyclists in Idaho there is a sliver of positivity in a sea of crisis. On March 18th, 2020 the state of Idaho became the 4th state to pass a law addressing the issue of motorcycle proﬁling. Awaiting the governor’s signature, S 1292, sponsored by Representative Robert Anderst, passed the Idaho House of Representatives on a 37-30 vote after previously passing the Senate 25-9.
S 1292 defines the term “motorcycle proﬁling” and prohibits the practice. And like the 3 states that have previously addressed the issue- Washington State (2011), Maryland (2016) and Louisiana (2019)- S1292 doesn’t allow monetary claims against law enforcement. The Federal Civil Rights Act remains the mechanism of monetary relief for victims of proﬁling. Rather, state anti-motorcycle proﬁling legislation provides a mechanism for targeted individuals to receive dismissals and exclusion of evidence based on an illegal stop, in addition to enhanced law enforcement training intended to curtail the discriminatory practice.
The law in Idaho is the direct result of a 5-year long grassroots effort led by Idaho ABATE. Idaho ABATE is a quintessential example of the democratic process at work. With persistence and preparation, legislative opposition can be reversed. Legislators deal with hundreds/ thousands of pieces of legislation annually. Idaho ABATE did not allow previous failures since 2017 to discourage the legislative effort. Instead of giving up, Idaho ABATE persisted and was eventually successful educating and gaining the support of legislators that previously opposed the idea.
The Motorcycle Proﬁling Project congratulates Idaho ABATE, Representative Anderst, and those that supported the effort- you know who you are! Working with you was a pleasure!
Stay healthy. Stay safe. And Fight The Good Fight!
A Blueprint For Successfully Protesting “No Motorcycle Colors” Nationwide the act of law enforcement coercing private establishments to prohibit motorcycle club-related clothing and paraphernalia has grown to epidemic levels. The National Council of Clubs, representing motorcycle clubs and their member’s legitimate interests in all 50 states, stands in opposition to law enforcement coercion and encourages motorcyclists to organize and fight back!
A recent example in the state of Pennsylvania not only highlights the issue, but also provides a viable blueprint for successfully reversing law enforcement motivated discrimination in public accommodations. Ephrata Police attempted to coerce a local Elks Lodge into breaking a contract with the Lancaster County Motorcycle Club (LCMC) that planned on holding their annual Halloween party to benefit the Ronald McDonald House. Fortunately, the LCMC, the NCOC, and Motorcycle Profiling Project (MPP), organized a successful campaign blocking law enforcement’s efforts.
Lancaster County Motorcycle Club is “a family friendly group using our love of riding motorcycles to help charities and benefits in our community.” LCMC as a collective, have never had any interactions with any law enforcement agency, and has references from many facilities that have hosted them, or that they participated in events with. On August 15th, 2019, LCMC signed a rental contract with the Elks Lodge 1933 to hold their annual Halloween party to take place on October 26, 2019. LCMC had hired a band, and planned on renting a taxi for any intoxicated drivers, and had a motorcycle trailer on standby as well. With food, entertainment, and safety measures in place, everything was going as planned, and shaping up to be a successful charity fundraiser. That is until the Ephrata Police decided to get involved.
State Actor Discrimination
On September 23rd, a board member of the Elks Lodge informed LCMC that their party was canceled at the behest of Lt. Christopher McKim of the Ephrata Police Department. Lt. McKim, acting under the color of state law in a official capacity, and who is also a member of the Elks lodge, had several conservations with a board member and the president of the lodge, “advising” them “not to have the party because of the possible ramifications that could happen from it.” The board members of the lodge decided to have a meeting to discuss what they believed was a directive from the local police department. Lt. McKim told the board members that he was ‘tipped off’ by agencies that were higher than his. Lt. McKim falsely claimed that LCMC had ties to a Motorcycle ‘Gang’, and employed a scare tactic of asking the lodge what they would do in the event that something ‘bad’ happened. Based on the erroneous and sensationalized misinformation that was presented to them, the Elks Lodge decided to cancel the planned event.
LCMC Pushes Back
Lancaster County Motorcycle Club was not happy about the slanderous information that was being spread about them, and made the decision to push back. The President of LCMC made several phone calls to the president of the Elks Lodge, as well as too Lt. McKim seeking an explanation as to why he would illegally influence a private business under the color of the law.
After several days and multiple attempts unanswered, LCMC President contacted the NCOC. On September 27th, 2019, I called Lt. McKim and requested an interview. Initially, he stated that he did not have time, and did not know what the questions were going to be in reference too. I informed him that I would be writing an article about his illegal actions, and would like to get quotes and/or his side of the story. Once this information was presented, Lt. McKim made time and decided to speak with this writer.
Ephrata Police Backpedal
Lt. McKim denied pressuring the Elks Lodge to cancel event, stating that “we”, the Ephrata Police, “just wanted them to be aware of the situation, aware of the connection.” He stated that he had received information from other confidential sources that “trouble can arise, not that it will arise.” He stated that the police department contacts any venue that is holding an event discusses how they would handle the situation “if anything bad happened.” When asked whether he, or the Ephrata Police Department is against the Elks Lodge hosting the LCMC parties, he responded “NO, not at all.”
While this writer was informing the LCMC President of the conservation with Lt. McKim, the Lt. coincidentally decided to return the President’s phone call. Armed with this new information, LCMC was able to secure an audience with the Elks Lodge board members to discuss the issue of having their party cancelled.
Majority of the LCMC, as well as this writer, were present for a meeting with board of the Elks Lodge. Many of tired and true misconception about Motorcycle Clubs were brought up in the meeting. One board member, a retired Ephrata Police officer, even insinuated that if a certain Motorcycle Club was not invited, that there was going to be violence. This same board member reaffirmed what was believed when he stated that “we were basically told not to have the party.”
Armed with statistical data and evidence, as well as compelling personal and collective stories, LCMC was able to able to convince the board members that having the party would not result in any violence, and that Lt. McKims mischaracterization of them was exactly that. After the meeting LCMC was informed that all but one board member voted to allow the party to take place as originally planned.
On October 26th, LCMC held their Halloween party as planned. There were zero incidences of violence, zero complaints from neighbors, and zero involvement from any law enforcement agency. Most importantly, proceeds were able to benefit the Ronald McDonald House, which helps the families of sick children at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Children’s Hospital.
This is yet another example of what can be accomplished when the Motorcycle Club community works together for Our 1st Amendment Rights.
The post A Blueprint For Successfully Protesting “No Motorcycle Colors” appeared first on Motorcycle Profiling Project.
The New Jersey State Commission of Investigations recently held public hearings on the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club (PMC) and it was business as usual. 1The NJSCI, in a trend being repeated by government and media sources nationwide, continued the process of eroding and ignoring the 1st Amendment in an attempt to vilify motorcycle clubs, in this instance the PMC due to the club’s alleged rapid growth recently. The actions of the few do not, and should not, dictate policy towards an entire demographic. Yet, that is the exact tactic being employed by the NJSCI by exploiting and sensationalizing the alleged actions of a few members in an attempt to encourage policy condemning the entire organization. That is simply not how the 1st Amendment works.
Same old song and dance
The NJSCI hearing was intended to expose policymakers to the allegedly growing threat presented by the PMC. The NJSCI has no power to prosecute. They do, however, provide guidance to policymakers that directly influence legislation and law. Ignoring the fundamental liberties embodied in the 1st Amendment, the NJSCI presented a familiar narrative echoing a biased and inaccurate stereotype by presenting as evidence actions of individual members in an attempt to condemn all PMC members. Moreover, many of the examples presented have not been subjected to judicial scrutiny or due process. Although no one goes to prison as a direct result, the NJSCI directly influences legislation without the requirement that an individual is innocent until proven guilty.
The false 1% narrative
NJSCI investigative agent Edwin Torres begins by advancing the falsehood that being a 1%’ER is synonymous with being a criminal. This assertion is an attempt to condemn an entire community and constitutionally protected symbol and association.
“Make no mistake. They are gangs”, says Torres. He then breaks into the apocryphal AMA narrative dating back to Hollister, California in 1947 in which the AMA declared that 1% of motorcyclists were not law-abiding citizens. Torres testified that 1%’ERS “wear a patch advertising that they are not law-abiding citizens.”
The assertion is ridiculous to members of the 1% club community. At worst, 1’ERS are advertising rebellion against mainstream society’s rules, not its’ laws. Things like long hair, tattoos, loud motorcycles, and parties.
The truth is that 1% clubs are considered elite among clubs, generally with higher levels of commitment and participation requirements, not criminality requirements. 1% clubs are a lifestyle, not a hobby. The truth is that the vast majority of 1%’ERS are employed, many have families, and don’t have criminal records. The statistics strongly dispute claims of criminality.
NJSCI claims about women are oﬀensive and false
In an attempt to provoke fear in policymakers and the public, NJSCI investigators assert women are abused and mistreated. Nicole McCann, investigative analyst for NJSCI testified, “According to the Pagan Motorcycle Club, women are below dogs. Women are treated like their property … shared sexually among the group. They are typically given as many drugs or drinks as they want.”
This assertion is highly oﬀensive to PMC members and their Ol’ Ladies. One self-proclaimed proud Pagan Ol’ Lady writes to the MPP: “Lower than dogs?!” Come on! My Pagan Ol’Lady sisters are top quality wives, girlfriends, and mothers! My property patch indicates that I’m loved, valued, and cherished by my man. And in return, we honor, love and respect our men.”
Although not as sensational as Hollywood’s version of biker culture, the claims regarding the intrinsic abuse of women are simply not true.
Assertions regarding drug use and inherent criminality are false
The NJSCI also claims that 90% of Pagan’s MC members do narcotics, in addition to all being criminals as signified by the 1% patch. Members also dispute this claim. One proud PMC member, family man, business owner, and law-abiding citizen writes the MPP, “Any intelligent person who believes this line of crap these oﬃcials are spewing is just as hypocritical and judgmental as those fabricating this nonsense. Talk about fake news and slanderous rhetoric! The percentage of club members who actually abuse drugs and commit crimes is far less than statistics have proven in law enforcement, clergy, and even government. The Doctors and priests molesting and abusing children and corruption in government and law enforcement is public knowledge. The men and women in motorcycle clubs around the world are widely comprised of hard-working, family loving, community support, and yes, law-abiding citizens from ALL walks of life. Lets face the facts and stop the spread of fake news on all levels. Get real.”
Statistically, very few 1%’ERS are criminals
The idea that all, or even most, 1%’ers are criminals is shattered by the only available statistics. The 2016-2019 National Motorcycle Profiling Surveys (NMPS) demonstrate that members of motorcycle clubs simply do not fit the demographic profile of criminals or gang members. The NMPS, the only statistical attempt to quantify the motorcycle profiling epidemic in America, is an extremely reliable data set, with 99% reliability and a 1.4% margin of error.
Torres is advancing a perception about all PMC members and 1%’ERS based on the actions of individual members. Certainly, individuals in clubs commit crimes. Some individuals in all large organizations and communities do, including government and law enforcement. But this fact does not mean every member of these groups are criminals.
This blanket assertion of criminality is completely inconsistent with established constitutional principles. And this is not the first time New Jersey law enforcement has attempted to condemn members of the PMC for mere association.
In 2015, a federal court in New Jersey found “no evidence that by merely wearing Pagan’s “colors,” an individual is “involved in or associated with the alleged violent or criminal activity of other Pagan’s members. It is a fundamental principle that the government may not impose restrictions on an individual “merely because an individual belong[s] to a group, some members of which committed acts of violence.” In fact, the Supreme Court has long “disapproved governmental action . . . denying rights and privileges solely because of a citizen’s association with an unpopular organization.” Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 185-86 (1972).
Condemning any person “who wears the insignia of the Pagan’s motorcycle club, without regard to or knowledge of that individual’s specific intent to engage in the alleged violent activities committed by other members, is antithetical to the basic principles enshrined in the First Amendment and repugnant to the fundamental doctrine of personal guilt that is a hallmark of American jurisprudence.” see Coles v. Carlini 162 F.Supp.3d 380 (2015)
1 https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/media/mp.asp?M=A/2019/CIR/1023-1000AM- M0-1.m4a&S=2018
The post New Jersey Tramples on 1st Amendment To Target Pagan’s MC appeared first on Motorcycle Profiling Project.
The National Council of Clubs, representing the interests of motorcycle clubs and thousands of their members in every state in America, is both concerned and appalled at recent reports of Veterans organizations, including some VFW, American Legion, and Eagles posts, among others, denying access to individuals expressing membership in motorcycle clubs.
So what’s the solution? The Texas Council of Clubs & Independents recent campaign in response to a policy of discrimination announced by the state VFW serves as an example of a successful strategy for others facing similar acts of discrimination by private Veterans organizations in their states.
Texas VFW General Orders of discrimination
Dated October 2019, the Department of Texas VFW sent General Orders to all VFW Posts throughout the state outlining a new written policy which includes a provision excluding all 1% MC members, employing gang labeling, from VFW events and property.
The TCOC&I quickly became aware of the General Orders through local VFW posts in numerous areas of the state and immediately began a campaign responding to the new policy of discrimination. Motorcycle clubs have a long history of having events at VFW posts, many motorcyclists are members, and relationships are strong in many places in Texas, as they are throughout America.
TCOC&I uses social media to apply pressure
Representatives of the TCOC&I began spreading the VFW letter through social media channels. Thousands in Texas and across the country became aware. On October 9th, a direct response from the TCOC&I in the form of a formal letter was sent to the Texas VFW outlining the community’s request that the policy be reversed. The TCOC&I emphasized the historical ties between the MC community and VFW’s throughout Texas. 38% of the club community are Veterans, more than five times the national average. MC meetings, benefits, and social events are a common occurrence.
According to a TCOC&I representative, this letter resulted in a meeting between representatives of both the Texas VFW and TCOC&I, including the local Austin VFW President. On Saturday, October 12, 2019, the TCOC&I emphasized the importance of not allowing the actions of the few influence how the VFW regards all motorcycle clubs, including 1%’ERS, and how they are treated. The TCOC&I also made a formal request for written explanation of the specifics that led to the General Orders and confirmation of a policy reversal. VFW representatives committed to bringing the TCOC&I’s concerns to Keith King, Texas VFW State Commander.
The Texas VFW reverses policy of discrimination
On October 22, 2019 Paul Landers, representing the TCOC&I, reached out to the Texas VFW for an update or statement following the October 12 meeting. Landers was notified that King would meet the following day to personally discuss the General Orders at Issue.
After meeting on October 23 the VFW State Commander opened his mind and listened, according to. Landers.
“King explained that the policy was due to publicized incidents of violence and 1% MC’s in Texas. But after listening to our perspective he changed his perspective. The actions of the few should not impact the rights of the whole. King agreed to a written policy change that does NOT exclude MC’s and 1% clubs from VFW property”, says Landers.
The Texas VFW Commander King writes, “The Texas VFW leadership met with representatives of the Texas Council of Clubs & Independents about General Order #2 issued October 2019 and received input from them that further clarification was requested to separate “Gangs” from MC’s. Motorcycle Clubs are Not Street Gangs. This was a very informative meeting with all attending sharing valuable information concerning the groups
We all agreed that our organizations did many good things for the communities in their areas. We all agreed that respect for one another is vital. As the original General Order stated, posts will have the right to permit the groups they have good working relationships with on their property. Notice that this means they will have the right to wear their patch as well if the post allows it. We all agreed to police ourselves. We believe that by working together we can strengthen our community involvement as many riders are in fact veterans themselves.
We hope this clears up the situation concerning motorcycle groups and the VFW in Texas.”
A model response to discrimination
The TCOC&I serves as a model example on how to respond to Veteran organization discrimination against the motorcycling community.
First, social media channels were flooded with the VFW’s General Orders in order to increase awareness and generate independent complaint streams. The more individuals that reach out and complain means the more leverage an oﬃcial complaint will have.
Second, an oﬃcial complaint and request for policy reversal was drafted and sent to the Texas VFW. The complaint outlined the close connection between MC’s and Veterans and argued the VFW is profiling and discriminating against the very people they exist to serve.
Third, meetings were arranged with VFW representatives in order to resolve the issue. Capable spokespersons persuaded the VFW to not punish all MC members for the actions of the few. The final result was a reversing a discriminatory policy.
The entire TCOC&I campaign was implemented and completed within days of the original letter being sent by the VFW. The campaign was cost-free and 100% relied upon active volunteer participation.
The shortsighted policy of excluding MC’s from Veteran’s organizations is appalling and unacceptable. Many in the MC community are loyal veterans, and Americans, and should not be the target of discrimination at home, particularly at the hands of other Veterans.
The TCOC&I blueprint can be modeled and implemented anywhere, in any state. No need to recreate the wheel.
Silence is consent.
There has been a one-sided war going on between law enforcement and motorcycle clubs for many years. This war is not a literal physical conflict in the traditional sense, but rather a war of words most often played out in the media and courtrooms across America. A war over public perception. And there is no better example than government authorities and the media applying the term “gang” to vilify and persecute motorcycle clubs and their members.
The National Council of Clubs (NCOC), representing the interests of motorcycle clubs and thousands of their members nationwide, is adamantly opposed to using the term “gang” to describe motorcycle clubs. The NCOC requests that media outlets and public oﬃcials immediately discontinue the practice.
- Gang labeling results in Selective Enforcement of the law and profiling, tangibly impacting civil liberties. Motorcycle clubs are First Amendment protected associations and most clubs and members are living examples of expressive conduct, as demonstrated by an irrefutable dedication to charitable causes and political
- The only statistical and demographic data available invalidates the “gang” label. 87% of MC members vote and are politically active, 73% are employed, 98% have no felony record, and 38% have served in the US military.
- Just as the highly publicized criminal actions of a few oﬃcers does not mean all cops are corrupt, the criminal acts of the few do not justify applying the term “gang” to all members of a motorcycle club. That would amount to guilt by
Gang labeling and civil liberties
Gang and gang member defined
The term “gang” in the legislative or legal arena has a much more specific definition than in media circles and even law enforcement. In the legal context, the Due Process Clause and the 1st Amendment require that an individual be directly connected to criminal activity of the alleged gang before they are considered a gang member. This is a more stringent standard than the mere “membership in an organization” standard that the media uses for reporting and that law enforcement uses for inclusion into a gang database, for example.
In fact, when prosecuting a member of an alleged gang, evidence of criminal wrongdoing by other members of an organization that don’t involve the defendant are properly excluded by the Federal Rules of Evidence because such evidence is cumulative and unduly prejudicial. This interpretation of the term “gang” or “gang member” is consistent with the First Amendment to the US Constitution. On the other hand, targeting an individual based on the “gang” label for mere membership in any organization is unconstitutional.
It’s a matter of semantics with tangible implications. Being put into a gang database does not mean that an individual is considered a gang member by statute because gang databases are intended only for investigation, not as evidence. So, a direct connection to criminal activity is not required before entering and individual into a gang database. The problem occurs when law enforcement makes a gang member determination based on the mere membership standard when enforcing statutes that legally require a direct connection to gang crimes.
Gangs, Due Process, and the First Amendment
Motorcycle clubs are First Amendment protected associations. Restrictions solely based on association in a motorcycle club violate the First Amendment. There is “no evidence that by merely wearing [motorcycle club] “colors,” an individual is “involved in or associated with the alleged violent or criminal activity of other [motorcycle club] members. It is a fundamental principle that the government may not impose restrictions on an individual “merely because an individual belong[s] to a group, some members of which committed acts of violence.” In fact, the Supreme Court has long “disapproved governmental action. denying rights and privileges solely because of a citizen’s association with an unpopular organization.” Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 185-86 (1972). To impose restrictions on any person “who wears the insignia of [motorcycle club], without regard to or knowledge of that individual’s specific intent to engage in the alleged violent activities committed by other members, is antithetical to the basic principles enshrined in the First Amendment and repugnant to the fundamental doctrine of personal guilt that is a hallmark of American jurisprudence.” see Coles v. Carlini 162 F.Supp.3d 380 (2015)
Gang labeling, Selective Enforcement, and profiling
This war of words and the perceptions they create are currently a determining factor shaping the future of motorcycle club culture because words have tangible impacts. In fact, the gang label has caused some law enforcement to unconstitutionally use membership in a motorcycle club as probable cause or reasonable suspicion for investigation or arrest without any particularized or specific justification. The recently common practice in some states of targeting and arresting members of clubs for possessing legal firearms based solely on alleged gang associations is another alarming example.
Statistical/demographic data says MC’s are not gangs
The 2016-2019 National Motorcycle Profiling Surveys (NMPS) demonstrate that members of motorcycle clubs simply do not fit the demographic profile of gangs or gang members. The NMPS, the only statistical attempt to quantify the motorcycle profiling epidemic in America, is an extremely reliable data set, with 99% reliability and a 1.4% margin of error.
MC members are employed- most gang members are not
Academic and government studies have long established that gang members are “less likely to be employed and more likely to not participate in the labor force.” (For an example see https:// www.ncjrs.gov/pdﬃles1/nij/grants/239241.pdf )
According to the NMPS, 73% of survey participants are employed, 68% of them on a full-time basis. Only 3% of the community is unemployed, and many of them are actively seeking employment. Interestingly, nearly 17% of survey participants are retired.
Employment demographics in motorcycle club culture are simply not consistent with gang membership or the broadly applied gang label by law enforcement or the news and entertainment media.
Although far less sensational than Sons of Anarchy or Gangland, the reality is that most members of motorcycle clubs, including 1% clubs, wake up in the morning, put their boots on, and go to work.
Most MC members are politically active- 87% vote
Political activism is protected expressive conduct under the First Amendment, not gang activity. Motorcycle clubs and their members are a very politically active constituency. and participate in the democratic process.
NMPS data establishes that 87% of motorcyclists voted in the 2016 presidential elections and that 86% voted in national elections over the last decade. This equates to millions of votes. The US DOT estimates that there are 8.6 million motorcyclists in the United States.
38% of MC members are Vets- This should be honored
According to the NMPS, 38% of survey participants were Veterans of the US Military. Such a large percentage of veterans politically active post their service is simply not indicative of gang membership. Instead of being vilified, the NCOC believes that these Veterans should be celebrated and appreciated for their sacrifices and service.
98.8% of MC members have no felony record
Statistically dissolving the stereotype law enforcement and the media attempt to sell regarding motorcycle clubs, only 1.17% of members of motorcycle clubs are convicted felons. That percentage is extremely low in such a large demographic, yet the gang label persists. News and entertainment media continue to sensationalize MC culture.
Individuals should not be labeled gang members merely because they are members of a motorcycle club, even a club in which some members have been convicted of criminal activity. Employing that standard would mean that every member of law enforcement and every US and State legislator would be criminals based on the actions of the few.
Consider law enforcement. All oﬃcers should not be condemned for the actions of the few, despite the fact that crimes committed by many oﬃcers have been well documented.
(Some even suggest more oﬃcers commit crimes than motorcycle club members. Consider recent statistics published by USA Today (April 26 & May 23, 2019) revealing the 85,000 oﬃcers investigated for misconduct nationwide, or the 30,000 oﬃcers banned from law enforcement in one state, only to become oﬃcers in another.)
The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects an individual’s right to associate with whomever they choose and express that association free from government discrimination or persecution.
Although the gang label is a convenient way to characterize and vilify thousands of people simultaneously, the only statistical data in existence suggests that the gang label as applied to motorcycle clubs is highly inaccurate.
The NCOC strongly asserts that 87% of actual gang members did NOT vote in the 2016 presidential elections, that 73% of actual gang members are not employed, and that in actual gangs, far more than 1.17% of the members are convicted felons.
Simply put, motorcycle clubs are not gangs.
National Council of Clubs firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source:: Why Motorcycle Clubs Are Not Gangs
The MPP has reported extensively about the alarming trend of law enforcement and government officials charging individual with crimes, or having personal property seized simply for belonging to motorcycle clubs. Many of these instances are clear violations of the US Constitution. The following is a report about a Pennsylvania man’s ordeal. He has zero criminal history and is a legal Pennsylvania and Utah Concealed Carry Permit holder. While riding his motorcycle he was struck by a truck in a traffic accident. His firearm, nonsensically, was confiscated under the guise of being evidence in the investigation of a traffic accident. Such incidents highlight the urgent need for legislation addressing the practice of motorcycle profiling as recently urged by the unanimous consent of the US Senate. Although the incident happened in May, court proceedings begin tomorrow, September 18th.
On May 11th, 2019, a member of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club was traveling on Rt. 291, just outside of Philadelphia. A pickup truck driven by an uninsured, out-of-state driver pulled out of the left-hand shoulder of the road and hit the member’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He was thrown approximately forty feet from the motorcycle, receiving multiple, major injuries. Fortunately, traveling behind was a member of the Brookers MC, and his wife, both former EMT’s. She helped keep the victim calm and stable until an ambulance could arrive. While waiting for ambulance and police to arrive, the Pagan’s MC member gave the Brookers MC member his legally owned handgun to safely secure. The Bookers MC member placed the firearm in his truck inside the locked glove box. Once medics arrived and took over the scene, the victim’s jacket was unzipped and, according to the Bookers MC member’s wife, a Chester police office noticed a Pagan’s t-shirt, remarking “oh, he’s a Pagan.” While being loaded onto the ambulance for transport to a local hospital, another Chester police officer noticed the victim’s empty firearm holster.
The Chester officer asked the Bookers MC member if he knew where the firearm was. He informed the officer that he had taken possession of the firearm and would transport it to the victim’s home. The officer falsely stated that it was illegal and that he was required to seize the firearm. The Bookers MC member responded that he has a current and legal Concealed Carry Permit in the state of PA, and it is legal for him as such to take possession of said firearm. The officer demanded the firearm while he spoke with a supervisor about the law. The Bookers MC member complied and gave the officers the firearm. The officer returned to his squad car, and left the scene within five minutes, taking the firearm with him.
After five days in the hospital with serious injuries, including head and brain trauma, the victim was cognizant enough to speak with his wife about the accident. He was informed that the police had indeed seized his firearm. When he spoke to a member of the Chester police department, he was told that his firearm was sent to Delaware County District Attorneys Criminal Investigation Unit (CID) for ballistic testing. He was told that he would have to petition the DA’s office for the return of his legally owned firearm.
4th Amendment Violation
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Despite being the victim of a careless, reckless driver, having not committed any crime, the Pagan’s MC member had his legally owned firearm confiscated by law enforcement officials simply due to his association with a Motorcycle Club. This is a clear violation of his Constitutional rights to free from unreasonable seizures.
Silence from Law Enforcement
The MPP attempted to contact the agencies involved to no avail. Neither Captain Stubbs of the Chester Police Department, nor Sgt. David McDonald or Chief Joseph Ryan of the Delaware County District Attorneys office responded to telephone calls regarding the seizure, or of any policies of either department that would dictate the seizure of personal property.
After going through the extensive red tape required to regain possession of his legal firearm, after it was illegally seized, the Pagan’s MC member was finally successful.
The targeted harassment of Motorcycle Club members in Pennsylvania is nothing new. These situations only highlight the necessity for passage of an Anti-Motorcycle Profiling law. Members of the MPP and the National Council of Clubs are working with local and federal officials towards the adoption of such laws.
We should not, cannot, and will not stand for the erosion of our Constitutionally granted rights.
The post PA Biker’s Firearm Illegally Seized After Major Injury Accident appeared first on Motorcycle Profiling Project.
By Dave “Irish” Dohrmann
Motorcycle profiling is an issue that knows no state bounds. From coast to coast, police and other governmental agencies are violating the constitutional rights of Motorcycle Club members. Typical of this trend, six members of a motorcycle club in Utah were recently stopped on three separate occasions, all within an hour, simply for associating with what one sheriﬀ supervisor referred to as a threat group. No traﬃc infractions were issued.
This incident is is just the most recent in the undeniable pattern of evidence. Motorcycle profiling is proliferating nationally. The best hope of combating this epidemic is cost free legislation at the state and federal level that prohibits the practice and provides a mechanism of relief for victims.
Start of the Night
Just after midnight on August 18, 2019, members of the Undefined Limits Motorcycle Club decided to go on a ride in beautiful Utah summer weather. Meeting at a Maverick gas station to pick a destination, MC members noticed two Utah police cars, carrying four oﬃcers, parked oﬀ in the distance. Member Buster, believing that a traﬃc stop was inevitable, waved the other members of the group to the front. At the first stop sign, a complete stop was made, and both feet were on the ground. Regardless, Buster and a hang-around of the club were pulled over for a stop sign violation.
Buster and the hang- around were pulled for a stop sign violation. The two sheriﬀs approached the riders with their hands on their firearms, and demanded identification. After providing their drivers licenses, for his and his brother’s safety, Buster informed the sheriﬀs that he was carrying a firearm, and had a legal CCW, even though no law in Utah dictates that holders are required to do so. The two riders were told to keep their hands on the handlebars, and keep their kickstands up, while one oﬃcer wrote the citation, and the other kept watch on the two riders. Thirty minutes into the stop, member Big Rig came back to the scene to check on the safety of his brothers. The sheriﬀ demanded his identification since he “was on the scene.” No citation was given to Big Rig. The total time for the simple traﬃc stop of the two individuals, took a total of forty-five minutes, a clear violation of his civil liberties, as outlined in Rodriguez v. United States.
After twenty minutes of waiting, several riders decided to head back in the direction of the Maverick Gas station. While pulling onto I-89, member Clash noticed a Utah police car sitting in the darkness with all of the lights oﬀ. Once the group passed the parked patrol car, the oﬃcer immediately pulled out and approached the group. Quickly the oﬃcer pulled over the rear rider, Clash, for an alleged turn signal violation. Clash was given a citation for an expired drivers license, and a warning for the turn signal violation. During the stop, the sheriﬀ mentioned that the department had just “broken up” a party being held by another Motorcycle Club, and the sheriﬀs assumed the riders were coming from said party.
The Real Reason for the Stops
Club members Tech and R2 pull into the Maverick gas station and are immediately pulled over by one sheriﬀ for yet another alleged turn signal violation. Member Tech asks to speak with a supervisor. Tech questioned the supervisor as the real reason for the stops, since six members were stopped in the previous forty-five to sixty minutes. The supervisor responds, “ Why do you think? Why do you think? “ Tech responds, “because we have this on?!” , referring to his vest. A Utah Police Supervisor responds, “You are documented, ok. The (club name) are a documented threat group, that’s how it is. So that’s why we’re doing this. That’s why we’re pulling people over,” showing a clear bias and prejudice towards Motorcycle Club members. Neither rider was issued a citation, though both were given written warnings.
None of the six Club members had any registration or insurance verified by the Davis County Sheriﬀs, nor were any inspections stickers verified. This is one of the reasons the MPP believes this was nothing more than a intelligence gathering expedition.
The above events are just one more reason why legislative relief is needed in Utah, and across the country. The intrusions on individuals civil liberties, simply for expressing their 1st Amendment right to freely associate needs to stop. And as the MPP has demonstrated, Motorcycle Profiling bills are the correct avenue to take.
William Dulaney, a retired professor at the U.S. Air Force Air Command & Staff College, has conducted extensive research on motorcycle club culture as an observer and a participant. In recent years, he has consulted on many cases in defense of members of motorcycle clubs ranging from illegal weapon charges related to get back whips, to the first Twin Peaks trial. His doctoral degree dissertation focused on the identity and culture of America’s outlaw motorcycle community.
As experienced by Aristotle, Einstein, and countless doctoral dissertations [i], conclusions and perspectives often evolve based on many factors. These factors include time spent in the field of participant observation, more expansive data collection, and expansion of geographic regions analyzed in-depth. The study of motorcycle club culture is no different.
Although Dulaney observed at the time of his initial writings that they were limited by geographic region and time spent in the field of observation, as is common with early academic studies [ii] [iii], some of Dulaney’s most recent observations based on years in the field were documented in a piece for CNN. [iv] He writes, “I’ve spent 15 years researching America’s biker culture and I can say with some authority that the reality of everyday life in motorcycle clubs is neither dangerous nor exciting.” So why might some people have a different view?
Media drives public perception
Dulaney explains, “Americans have a long established canon from which they “learn” about society from fictional dramas. And the more we watch shows like “Sons of Anarchy,” the more a news story will seem to fit our mental construct of “how those people are.” And Dulaney’s research on media coverage of motorcycle clubs shows that when MCs are in the news it’s almost always for something terrible, not the numerous law enforcement abuses or profiling of patch-holders or the mundane everyday experiences of motorcycle club members. He continues, “But here’s the thing: As we watch more crime drama, we perceive that crime is more prevalent than it actually is.”
The Blue Jay Syndrome
A criminal element exists in any large community. There are always “bad seeds.” Dr. Dulaney would not disagree. But he would point to a phenomenon revealed by his recent studies that applies to motorcycle clubs termed The Blue Jay Syndrome. Like a blue jay robbing another’s nest for resources, a tiny percentage of individuals are able to take advantage of the tight-knit structure of a motorcycle club for their own selfish or even criminal purposes, and then flee the nest when they’ve depleted and damaged the structure. [v] Although this is not representative of the vast majority of motorcycle club members across the wide-spectrum of clubs, these false perceptions of widespread criminality are largely drawn by media constructs, both entertainment and sensationalized news.
Findings related to profiling.
Motorcycle profiling, an issue that has gained momentum in recent years and is now a national discussion, has also emerged in Dulaney’s recent observations. He argues, “In over a decade of sifting through discovery evidence and testifying in federal RICO and state gang-enhancement trials across the US a model of law enforcement behavior has emerged. The model is simple: specific federal agents use various federal, state, and local police “motorcycle gang” task forces to profile members and friends of motorcycle clubs. The profiling ranges from pre-textual traffic stops intended to document identities and update gang crime databases to the systematic deprivation of civil rights; with violations of the 1st, 4th, and 14th Amendments being most prevalent.”
A shift to coexistence
Over the past 10 years, as awareness of motorcycle profiling has increased, combined with historical events like Waco, motorcycle club participation in the grassroots motorcycle rights movement has increased as well. Across America, this participation has resulted in more communication and cooperation among motorcycle clubs as it relates to common ground issues like profiling.
In terms of issues related to rivalries among motorcycle clubs, Dulaney’s more recent observations reveal more of a coexistence. At a funeral for a patch-holder killed in Waco, Dulaney witnessed members of “more than 50 other motorcycle clubs come together in peace to mourn the passing of a man who touched the lives of so many in his community. This convergence of contrasting MC’s was no media stunt. There were no media in the funeral that day (although there was one white, unmarked van, out of which came uniformed men clad in body armor and armed with assault rifles).”
“As one who earns a living studying and teaching about threats to national security, it concerns me greatly to think that precious time, money, and manpower are wasted on targeting the wrong people. We have very real dangers to our society, our American way of life, but MC’s are unequivocally not among those dangers. In my experience, patch-holders represent the very people who protect us from those threats.”
What drives people to MC’s?
So what really drives many people to motorcycle clubs? The answer must include the obvious love of riding motorcycles and a sense of brotherhood. But also, Dulaney argues, as a largely patriotic group, “MCs support a wide variety of local, national, and international charities that seek to end cancers, poverty, hunger and children’s diseases, but especially supported are disabled veterans organizations.”
But the connection to the charitable mission appears to run much deeper. Dulaney writes, “Charity is to members of motorcycle clubs as gasoline and oil are to their machines. For some, it’s a major reason why they join and stay in MCs.”
Perception is not reality
The mainstream news and entertainment media have created a perception of motorcycle clubs based on the highly sensationalized actions of the few.
As suggested by Dulaney’s most recent observations and study, this is now 2019, and the realities of society are different than they were even 15 years ago, and that includes the data. The conclusions based on the widest geographic sample, combined with years of observation, suggest that the mainstream media’s coverage of motorcycle clubs is like the Wizard of Oz, and the general public is susceptible to the same tactics of sensationalism.
[ii] Dr. Dulaney warned in his 2006 dissertation that his study was based on limited participant observation data and therefore suffered. p.x- Participant observations were conducted from May through June 2004 across the United States, with the majority of data originating from the Southeast United States in general, and the northern Florida Panhandle in particular. Another limitation of this study is the short amount of time spent in the field. Ethnographers often spend months and years in order to arrive at an emic [meaning an inside] understanding of another culture. The present study suffers due to the fact that only a few months were spent recording data.
[iii] Dr. Dulaney testified in May 2018 that his current views, based on many years of participant observation, are different than they were in 2006. Dr. Dulaney’s current views are not geographically limited to the Southeast US and the Florida Panhandle. Rather, current conclusions are based on observing motorcycle club culture across geographic regions of the entire United States and many more years in the field.
[v] Dr. Dulaney stated during an expert qualification hearing in 2018 that he has been developing the Blue Jay Syndrome theory for years now and was working on material for peer review and to publish.
Motorcycle profiling is an epidemic in Texas demanding judicial and legislative relief. It appears that the level of unconstitutional absurdity has reached new heights. As captured on video, members of a motorcycle club were cited by officers in San Antonio for Disturbing the Peace for displaying their motorcycle club insignia in public, which the officers considered a public display of gang colors. The officer’s actions are outrageous and blatantly unconstitutional under both the 1st and 4th Amendments to the US Constitution. All officers in San Antonio, and throughout Texas, should immediately cease and desist from any further illegal seizures and citations based on the fact that a person is riding a motorcycle or wearing motorcycle club-related insignia.
Motorcycle profiling an epidemic in Texas
This incident in San Antonio is only one of the most recent incidents documented and reported across the state. According to the 2018 National Motorcycle Profiling Survey (NMPS) Executive Summary, Texas is among the worst states for reported incidents of profiling in America. The 2018 NMPS confirms the wide-held belief among motorcyclists in Texas that incidents of profiling have dramatically proliferated since the Twin Peaks tragedy that occurred on May 17, 2015. The 2018 NMPS shows a 100% increase in the percentage of survey participants reporting incidents of profiling in Texas since 2013.
Impact on civil liberties
Being stopped and cited for wearing motorcycle club colors under the guise of disturbing the
peace would be laughable if it weren’t actually happening. Wearing motorcycle club colors in
public has been recognized by federal courts as expressive conduct protected by the 1st
Amendment. Moreover, wearing motorcycle club colors is not reasonable suspicion of a traffic
infraction or criminal activity, the minimal threshold for a seizure under the 4th Amendment.
Independent of this obvious misapplication of statute, profiling incidents take many forms and
impact a wide array of civil liberties. Motorcycle club members with a legal License to Carry
have been arrested for possession of legal firearms simply for being a member of a motorcycle
club. Club members have been stopped and threatened with jail if they didn’t submit to having
every tattoo on their bodies photographed against their consent. Unfortunately, the fact that
these attacks on civil liberties impact well established rights and fly in the face of well
established judicial precedent has not been a deterrent to law enforcement.
Video is critical to fighting back
The video captured in San Antonio could be a critical piece of evidence demonstrating the
essential facts required to successfully defend against the infraction and maybe file for an
injunction against the practice of stopping and/or citing a person for wearing motorcycle club
colors. The facts are all contained in a short video. The individuals in the video are being cited
for Disturbing the Peace because wearing motorcycle club colors is displaying gang colors in
public. This video makes these facts irrefutable.
Independent of judicial applications, this video and incident also help establish a tangible
pattern of profiling necessary for legislative relief. Seeing is believing and nothing has worked
better than video in the MPP’s opinion.
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