Monthly Archives: July 2015

Police Have Declared War On Motorcycle Clubs: Is Another Biker Massacre Imminent?

The probability of a large scale biker massacre increases every time law enforcement polices the motorcycle community as if law enforcement is at war with motorcycle clubs. The increasingly militarized policing of the motorcycle club community is completely destroying the relationship between law enforcement and the citizens of the society that they are sworn to protect and serve.

Everything from the rhetoric of law enforcement to the use of military grade equipment and weaponry suggests that law enforcement views themselves in an imaginary war. Imaginary in the sense that the war is absurd and one-sided. Motorcycle clubs are not stupid or psychotic enough to declare war on law enforcement. Regardless of reality, this illusion can too easily spark violent tragedies triggered by excessive force.

Logically, the mindset involved in militarization is completely different than the mindset involved in community policing in a free society. This is why we have the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 which creates a barrier between military forces and domestic policing. It is only a matter of time before this mindset driving the goals and tactics of over-militarized police units results in more large-scale tragedy.

Military training and weaponry is designed to win wars. The way wars are won involves killing the enemy and containing any potential threat through the use of overwhelming firepower. There is no room for the enemy to enjoy Constitutional rights when at war. The goals and tactics of militarized forces at war are very different than the goals and tactics of domestic policing in a free society constrained by Constitutional rights of citizens that are not considered enemies.

These realities are substantiated in the ACLU’s recent report on police militarization, “War Comes Home.”

“The images on the news of police wearing helmets and masks, toting assault rifles, and riding in mine-resistant armored vehicles are not isolated incidents—they represent a nationwide trend of police militarization. Federal programs providing surplus military equipment, along with departments‘ own purchases, have outfitted officers with firepower that is often far beyond what is necessary for their jobs as protectors of their communities. Sending a heavily armed team of officers to perform “normal” police work can dangerously escalate situations that need never have involved violence.

“The change in equipment is too often paralleled by a corresponding change in attitude whereby police conceive of themselves as “at war” with communities rather than as public servants concerned with keeping their communities safe…We should not be able to mistake our officers for soldiers.

Of particular concern is the irrefutable fact that Post-Waco profiling is escalating out of control and police are embracing overwhelming militarized forces as their primary policing tactic. An incredibly timely example of military style equipment and tactics being used against motorcycle clubs, American citizens, was carried out by a heavily militarized multi-agency force in Pocatello, Idaho this past weekend.*

Based on publicly unsubstantiated information subjected to zero scrutiny, a heavily militarized multi-agency force blockaded and harassed, with overwhelming force, hundreds of motorcycle club members and independents at an annual POW/MIA event.

There were no arrests and there had NEVER been a problem in the events long history, including the clubs present this year. Event organizers confirmed that there had never been a single problem with any of the clubs in the past, including the stereotyped and overly scrutinized 1% clubs, and they had an open line of communication with them.

But law enforcement, in their own words, “lit them up” anyway, blockading all patrons inside, cordoning them off with military style equipment and weaponry. There was no attempt to conduct rational community policing or communicate. This is true even though event coordinators made it perfectly clear that there has always been an open line of communication with the clubs present. The police explicitly admit that their mindset was a militarized show of force to prevent a fictitious problem before it occurred, regardless of the undisputed history of peace and communication with clubs.

The use of militarized police to control the citizenry is irrefutable proof that we are moving towards a police state. How far will citizens allow this to go before they unite and use the democratic process to prevent totalitarian police tactics and the use of military style vehicles and weapons designed for war and not community policing? Hopefully it will not take more death, tragedy, and massacre.

Waco was used to justify the operation, despite the fact that there was no connection to the isolated events in Waco, and despite the fact that events may, in the end, be confirmed as massive militarized show of force that ended up exploding into mass death and injury.

The Motorcycle Profiling Project is dedicated to promoting unity among all motorcycling organizations and clubs for the purpose of using our manpower in the democratic system to reverse this trend of militarized policing against marginalized communities and grassroots political factions. The Motorcycle Profiling Project can provide hands-on assistance mobilizing your community in order to pass meaningful and effective legislative solutions to combat motorcycle profiling, including militarized policing.

Anyone familiar with the Motorcycle Profiling Project knows we do not engage in conspiracy theories. Unfortunately, the increasing militarization of American law enforcement is not a theory, it is fact. It’s imperative that currently unaffected Americans watching these events from the comfort of their living rooms wake up before the slippery slope reaches them. By then it will be too late and we will live in a totalitarian police state ruled through force and fear.

Silence is consent.

David “Double D” Devereaux is the Spokesperson for the Washington State Confederation of Clubs and US Defenders, The Motorcycle Profiling Project, The Council of Clubs, and also works with the Confederation of Clubs and US Defenders at the national level. Contact:

Source:: Police Have Declared War On Motorcycle Clubs: Is Another Biker Massacre Imminent?

Virginia Police State: No Motorcycle Club is Safe.

On July 24 the Virginia State Police conducted an unconstitutional and over-militarized search and seizure of the Wicked Few Charity Brotherhood in Virginia. According to NBC News, “families watched armored vehicles move into position Friday evening, investigators from Virginia State Police executed a search warrant inside a motorcycle clubhouse, leaving residents with few clues as to the goal or intent of the sweeping search.” (NBC News, July 24, 2015) After two hours and no arrests, the VSP seized club property and then pointed AR-15’s directly at an unarmed member as he requested to see the warrant. The request was denied.

THE VIRGINIA STATE POLICE’S RESPONSE WAS IRREFUTABLY OVER-MILITARIZED

The VSP operation was more reminiscent of a military operation than a domestic police action. Armored vehicles, AR-15’s, drug dogs, and after searching for more than two hours troopers made no arrests. Consider the following description from the primary witness on the scene.

I felt like I was in Iraq and an IED has just been found, said Jeremiah Dabney in an interview Friday. We watched them in and out of our house. They brought drug dogs out. They searched the property, kicked the doors in.”

But after floorboards were pulled off, and safes cracked open, Dabney said he approached troopers to ask what was happening.

They all pointed AR-15s at me, Dabney said. I’m in shorts and nothing else. I pulled my shirt off and dropped my pants to show him that I had no weapons. I said, ‘I want to see my search warrant.‘” (NBC News, July 24, 2015)

Troopers refused to show the sealed warrant, and left the neighborhood. “According to members of the social club, investigators took three biker vests, a large banner displaying the organization’s name, and a photo album.” (NBC News, July 24, 2015)

The level of militarization displayed by the VSP is unjustified and completely inappropriate considering the known circumstances. The Wicked Few Charity Brotherhood, as the name makes clear, is a charitable social organization. The Wicked Few are a new club that has only been around for two years. According to previous interviews, the club is completely dedicated to charity and community involvement. It’s a requirement of membership. Other than inaccurate stereotype, there is absolutely no apparent circumstances justifying a militarized response.

The over-militarization of American law enforcement is an obvious reality with potentially devastating consequences. Militarized police eliminate any chance of community policing by installing fear and mistrust in average citizens. As the relationship between law enforcement and the community breaks down there is a much higher probability of unjustified use of deadly force and civil liberty violations on a massive scale. This breakdown also erodes the safety net that has irrefutably led to mass demonstrations and even violent rioting.

The response should be commensurate to the threat. And what we know about this incident reveals no justifiable threat. And refusing to reveal the sealed search warrant is a mechanism that law enforcement is increasingly using to circumvent the constitutional requirement to demonstrate probable cause required in legal search and seizures.

REFUSING TO REVEAL A SEALED WARRANT AFTER THE SEARCH IS COMPLETE IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL AND VIOLATES ESTABLISHED CRIMINAL PROCEDURE

The government’s most recent strategy involves motions to seal search warrant affidavits. Despite the fact that there is no statutory authority and precedent concluding the unconstitutional nature of sealed search warrants, prosecutors have often persuaded judges to continue the secrecy of search warrant affidavits long after the warrants have been executed based on the argument that unsealing would compromise an ongoing investigation.

Although initially sealing a search warrant may arguably preserve investigatory integrity, the moment that property is seized the search warrant must be unsealed. David F. Axelrod, a former an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida and Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice says, “Until the application has been unsealed, it is impossible to identify any but the most obvious defects in the warrant or its execution. In particular, it is impossible to determine whether there was probable cause to search and, if so, for what.” (see Litigating Sealed Search Warrants: Recent Cases Limit Indefinite Seal in Pre-Indictment Investigations)

The Virginia State Police acted unconstitutionally the moment that they seized the Wicked Few’s property and refused to show the warrant. Sealed search warrants become particularly problematic after property is seized. Federal Criminal Procedure “clearly establishes the right of a person aggrieved by the execution of a search warrant to challenge the propriety of the seizure of his property. The subject of the warrant suffers the deprivation of property and has more than just an academic interest in knowing the basis for the warrant. Without the affidavit, it is impossible to assess the legitimacy of the warrant, and, therefore, the deprivation of property.”

Unless the search warrant application is open to review, counsel and the property owner cannot evaluate whether the affidavit is based on false or erroneous information. There is zero basis for the Wicked Few to challenge the taking of their property.

The denial of access to a warrant affidavit precludes a property owner from the most effective forms of challenging the warrant, depriving the property owner of procedural and substantive due process. “[M]inimum due process requirements are violated when a government agency permits its officers to carry out a seizure . . . without providing the owners any meaningful opportunity to challenge the seizure at the earliest possible time.”

Recent case precedent confirms that sealed search warrants were not intended by Congress. In the Southern District of Ohio (889 F. Supp. 296 (S.D. Ohio 1995) the court was clear that asserting an “ongoing criminal investigation,” is not enough to justify continued sealing. Criminal procedure “nowhere provides for the secrecy of warrant applications. This stands in sharp contrast to Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e), which explicitly provides for the automatic secrecy of grand jury materials. The failure to include such a secrecy provision in Rule 41 is a plain indication that Congress did not intend for search warrant applications to be kept secret.”

CONCLUSIONS

The epidemic of over-militarized and discriminatory law enforcement actions targeting motorcycle clubs are perfectly demonstrated by the actions of the VSP. The Wicked Few, a charitable organization, are victims of an over zealous and constitutionally unconscious search and seizure, conducted by armored vehicles, at the end of AR-15’s. The pattern of evidence justifying legislative protection against law enforcement profiling is self-evident.

Every American should be highly concerned. The Virginia State Police must be held accountable. Every instance of over-militarized, abusive, and unconstitutional search and seizures erodes the concept of Due Process and risks large scale violence, unjustified deadly force, and a general breakdown of peaceful civil society.

David Devereaux is the Spokesperson for the Washington State Confederation of Clubs and US Defenders, The Motorcycle Profiling Project, The Council of Clubs, and also works with the Confederation of Clubs and US Defenders at the national level. Contact:

Source:: Virginia Police State: No Motorcycle Club is Safe.

Colorado COC has updated it’s website

The Colorado Confederation of Clubs has updated it’s website. We invite you to come take a look at the new site, and leave your feedback,c comments and suggestion here.

The new site is completely mobile device capable, so you can stay informed and up to date while on the move.

Members can now add their own club’s events to the calendar, directly, without sending them to the webmaster. Of course , the webmaster will still accept calendar event submissions, and add them to the calendar.

We have also updated the “Biker Friendly or NOT” list, be sure to support local businesses that are truly biker friendly.  Check out he list Here.

Please check out the new site, and let us know your thoughts, and offer any suggestions you may have.

10 Ways Cops Are Allowed to Lie

San Diego Defense Attorney Explains 10 Ways Cops Are Allowed to Lie

The list begins by explaining that police can even lie about having already obtained physical evidence — such as DNA or fingerprints — from a crime scene, and expounds on a number of other police bluffs, complete with actual example cases:

(1) They Can Lie About Physical Evidence

“We have your fingerprints.”

“We have your DNA.”

Fingerprint and DNA analysis requires time, and county crime labs are notoriously backlogged. If you have been arrested as a suspect for a crime that was recently committed, it is highly unlikely that police have fingerprints from the scene of the crime, at the time of interrogation.

Consider the following true story:

The defendant voluntarily came to the police station and was told he was not under arrest. The officer told the defendant that his fingerprints were found at the scene, a lie. The defendant then confessed to taking the property. Oregon v. Mathiason (1977) 429 U.S. 492

The 6th District described the practice of police lying about having DNA, “a regrettable but frequent practice of law enforcement was not unconstitutional,” citing to People v. Jones (1998) 17 Cal.4th 279, 299 – which allow police deception as long as it is not unlikely to produce an untruthful confession.

(2) They can trick you into giving up your DNA

“Would you like something to drink?”

If you are arrested for a serious crime (read: violent crime), a DNA swab is now part of the normal booking routine. However, the police may also try and trick you into surrendering your DNA by offering you a soda, cup of water or coffee. A positive DNA match to an active crime scene is usually sufficient for an arrest and a charge. Police are even allowed to go through your garbage to obtain your DNA and other evidence. Maryland v. King (2013) 133 S.Ct. 1958; California v. Greenwood (1988) 486 U.S. 35

(3) They can give you fake tests to “prove you’re guilty”

“You failed the polygraph.”

“You failed a chemical test.”

Consider the following true story:

A suspect requested a polygraph test, and the police hooked the suspect up to a fake machine. During the questioning, the suspect denied any involvement in the crime, then the police show the defendant a fake graph from the fake machine, and say the suspect is lying. The suspect thereafter admits being present at the scene of the crime – The court ruled the defendant’s admission is a voluntary and admissible confession. People v. Mays (2009) 173 Cal App. 4th 1145.

Another true story:

“In the first step of the “test,” the detectives sprayed defendant’s hands with soap and patted them with a paper towel. In the second step, they used a field test kit used for testing substances suspected of being cocaine, which the detectives knew inevitably would turn color. The detective told defendant that the test had provided proof that defendant had recently fired a gun.” People v. Smith (2007) 40 Cal.4th 483; People v. Parrison (1992) 137 Cal.App.3d 529, 537

(4) They can lie about having an eyewitness to the crime

“An eyewitness identified you.”

True Story:

A defendant was brought to a police station and advised of his Miranda rights. Defendant waived his rights, gave a statement, and then asked for an attorney. As the detectives picked up their books to leave the room a detective tells the defendant that the victim identified a picture of the Defendant as the one who stabbed and raped her. At the time, the victim had not seen any photographs. The defendant subsequently confessed. People v. Dominick (1986) 182 Cal. Ap. 3d 1174.

(5) They can lie about recording your conversation

“I’m turning the recorder off, this is just between you and me.”

“This is off the record.”

There is nothing requiring a police officer to disclose the presence of an already-activated tape recorder. In fact, there may be more than one recording device in the room, and the police may turn one of those devices off and say, “this is just between us,” or “this is off the record.” Remember that when speaking with the police, there is no “off the record.” People v. Sims (1993) 5 Cal. 4th 405.

(6) They can lie about having an accomplice’s confession

“Your friend sold you out and told us everything”

The police are permitted to lie and tell you that your accomplice confessed. Detectives could place both Frazier and his cousin at a bar where a victim was last seen alive. Both Frazier and the cousin were arrested. Police lied to Frazier during the interview that his cousin confessed and told them everything. Frazier made statements that he and his cousin were at the bar. Those statements were used to convict him. Frazier v. Cupp (1969) 394 U.S. 731.

The police are even permitted to show you a forged confession from your friend/accomplice to try and trick you into confessing. People v. Long (1970) 6 Cal. App. 3d 741

(7) The police can imply that co-operation will lead to leniency

“We already know what happened, but if you obstruct our investigation the DA will be a lot tougher on you.”

Police cannot make threats or a promise of lieniency. It’s a true statement – you can be criminally charged for lying to the police. The police are prohibited from making threats or promises to induce a confession – but that does not mean that they will not threaten you or make you false promises. Police break the rules all the time. Your best defense is to remain silent and wait for a lawyer.

What most people don’t realize is that the police do not charge you with a crime – only the district attorney can make that decision. In the vast majority of cases a DA does not know anything about the case until the date of arraignment where they first pick up the file and read a police report. When a DA reads the file for the first time one of the key pieces of evidence they are looking for is if you made any statements (that is the one thing that makes their job the easiest). United States v. Santos-Garcia (8th Cir.2002) 313 F.3d 1073, 1079 (noting that raised voices and suggestions on how to gain leniency do not render a confession involuntary).

(8) They can lie about what will happen to other people.

“Your friend will spend their life in jail if you don’t tell us what happened.”

The police can lie to you and say that your friend will go to jail for the rest of their life. HOWEVER, they cannot threaten a family member with harm or removal from the home. While the court permits a number of coercive tactics, threatening your family is considered the type of threat that is likely to produce a false confession. “A threat by police to arrest or punish a close relative, or a promise to free the relative in exchange for a confession, may render an admission invalid.” People v. Steger (1976) 16 Cal.3d 539, 550.

(9) They can lie about your ability to defend yourself from a criminal charge.

“We know what happened, the best thing for you is to tell us how write it up in your favor and we will help you out.”

“We have enough evidence to charge you – this is your only opportunity to tell your story.”

Police do not “charge” you with a crime. They write a report and the District Attorney reads the report. The district attorney then decides to either file a charge, or not file a charge depending on the strength of the case. The hardest cases to prosecute are the ones where the Defendant has said NOTHING. The less you say to the Police, the better off you are at avoiding a charge.

Defendant and his accomplice were wanted for a murder. Officers already had a full confession from defendant’s accomplice, blaiming the killing on defendant. Police lied and told the Defendant they have enough evidence to charge him with murder. The defendant told the police his friend actually did the murder. His statements were used against him to place him at the scene of the crime, and as an accomplice. Defendant was ultimately convicted of murder. When the police tell you they will help you out, they are lying. Their only job is to investigate a case. The police will never help a suspect/person do anything but incriminate themselves. People v. Gurule (2002) 28 Cal.4th 557

(10) They can ignore your request for a lawyer

There is an evidentiary loophole that allows voluntary statements, given in violation of Miranda, to be useable in court for impeachment purposes (challenging the defendant’s credibility).

True story:

Strategically, police officers made an agreement prior to interviewing the defendant, that they would continue questioning Defendant if he invoked his right to an attorney. They knew that anything the Defendant said could not be used to prove his guilt, however anything the defendant said is admissible as “impeachment evidence,” – which is evidence that tends to show that the Defendant is falsely testifying.

Defendant requested a lawyer 11 times over the course of a 4 hour interrogation, but each time after requesting a lawyer, the police ignored the request and asked another question to which the Defendant answered – and then resumed questioning. He then later admitted a rape and double homicide to police. He never saw a lawyer. Court found the defendant was not subjected to physical or psychological mistreatments and is mature and has had past criminal experience and that his statements were therefore voluntary and admissible. People v. Jablonski (2006) 37 Cal.4th 774

 

The Leaked Waco Video, Police Corruption, and The Man In The Blue Shirt

The narrative of silence in response to legitimate and obviously credible questions is highly irresponsible and ethically disgusting. Law enforcement initially released a series of inaccurate and highly prejudicial statements immediately following the shooting incident at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco on May 17, 2015. The court of public opinion moves quicker than the court of law. Regardless of accuracy, prejudicial statements during the initial phases of national media coverage defined general perception and diverted attention away from law enforcement’s actions during this tragedy. Law enforcement capitalized on the national news media’s focus by sensationalizing the gathering as a gang meeting and even went as far as absurdly claiming that bikers had declared war on law enforcement, green-lighting “anyone in uniform”.

But as this information has been analyzed and refuted, the validity of these statements have come into serious question. Although national focus has waned as the media’s attention has been drawn elsewhere, correcting inaccuracies and prejudicial statements has become more difficult, but no less important. Law enforcement’s silence speaks volumes to a general public already skeptical of an epidemic of law enforcement abuse and criminal activity across the country.

When national media focus was diverted, the strategy changed. Law enforcement transitioned to a narrative of silence, refusing to shed any light on critical questions regarding the incident. This silence only further legitimizes questions and critiques of law enforcement’s actions.

The recently leaked video footage from Don Carlos, a restaurant immediately adjacent to Twin Peaks, is a perfect example of law enforcement’s narrative of silence. The leaked Don Carlos video revealing a small piece of the picture of the tragedy in Waco creates more questions than it answers. These questions demand answers if the criminal justice system in Waco has any hope of restoring any semblance of credibility after what appears to be revelations easily interpreted as corruption. There appears to be a number of elements of the video that range from curious to suspicious, particularly absent any counter-explanation. Law enforcement’s narrative of silence must end.

THE MAN IN THE BLUE SHIRT?

Who is the man in the blue shirt standing on the Don Carlos porch at the beginning of the video? He appears to be watching the Twin Peaks parking lot. He does not appear to be waiting for a seat at the restaurant. He is completely focused on Twin Peaks and occasionally glancing up and down the Don Carlos parking lot.

Moments before he ducks and runs away, presumably in response to the start of the shooting, the man in the blue shirt looks to his left scanning the Don Carlos lot. Then he does something extremely curious and very suspicious. He looks back towards the Twin Peaks parking lot and taps his head on the right side three times, with the palm of his right hand, as if signaling someone. (12:40:58/59) Almost immediately after he taps his head, the man begins to duck and run into Don Carlos because the shooting begins.

Was this an intentional signal or an unconscious action? If it was a signal, who is being signaled? Is it a coincidence that the head taps immediately proceeded the start of the shooting or did the signal trigger the shooting?

Later in the video, the man appears again. He walks out of Don Carlos talking on the phone.(13:31:07) He then hangs up the phone and briefly talks to an officer.(13:31:23) He then walks off to the left,(13:31:39) and then walks back inside Don Carlos and never appears on this video again.(13:32:22)

Remember, this man does not appear to be a patron at Don Carlos. I suppose it is possible that he was just curious about a bunch of bikers gathered, but it just doesn’t seem probable considering his apparent focus on the lot and his head tapping signals. Just who is this man in the blue shirt?

PLANTING EVIDENCE?

As already reported by others, it appears that officers planted evidence in the vicinity of a shooting victim. Who is the injured or deceased individual that appears to fall to the ground just outside the frame, after running away from the Twin Peaks, past the white Ford sedan at the top left of the screen?(12:41:17)

Why does an officer place an object on the ground next to the Ford sedan (13:21:33) that another officer later marks as evidence?(13:59:34) Why does another officer lean down and inspect the exact area where the object is placed and eventually marked as evidence?(13:20:48) What is he looking at? Coincidentally, this occurs at the same time the officer that later plants the evidence tells remaining Don Carlos customers to go back inside the restaurant.

Was it purposeful that the evidence was planted after the patrons gathering on the Don Carlos porch, taking video and pictures, were asked to go back inside the restaurant? Was other evidence planted elsewhere in the crime scene, outside the scope of this video? Does this help explain why the number of recovered weapons reported by law enforcement continually changed?

These are all fair and relevant questions that demand answers. There is zero doubt that one officer placed an object in the crime scene and another officer placed an evidence marker next to this object. I cannot imagine a plausible explanation for what clearly appears to be planted evidence in the vicinity of a shooting victim.

THE INDIVIDUAL DETAINED AND THEN RELEASED?

Who is the individual laying prone, arms out, before he is handcuffed or zip-tied and leaned against the white Ford sedan near the planted evidence? Why is this individual placed in the vicinity of the planted evidence?

The biker is eventually picked up and brought to the back of the white Ford sedan where he is un-cuffed and signs a piece of paper.(13:54:04) He then walks off unattended toward Twin Peaks.

Since this is a crime scene, apparently littered with evidence and weapons, would anyone allow a “witness” to walk through it unattended? Or was there no concern because there weren’t hundreds of weapons littered about as reported by police? Remember, this individual was detained and leaned against the white Ford sedan that is directly next to the biker that initially fell and also in the direct vicinity of the planted evidence. Who is this un-handcuffed, un-arrested individual allowed to walk across a controlled crime scene?

CONCLUSIONS

Legitimate questions and issues are not being clarified in the face of massive Due Process and excessive bond issues. The longer these questions go unanswered, the longer innocents will suffer as a result of abusive discretion and the more an already skeptical public will be suspicious and distrustful of law enforcement.

A cursory glance at recent events in America should reinforce the impact of damaged community relations with abusive and over-reaching law enforcement. Positive relationships between the community and those charged with protecting and serving is a critical element to a functioning, stable, and free society.

The narrative of silence in response to legitimate and obviously credible questions is highly irresponsible and ethically disgusting. But then again, Waco is not historically known for credible, accurate, or honest law enforcement. Public outcry and pressure for disclosure is one of the best ways to turn the tide of public opinion. And public opinion will determine how Waco impacts the motorcycle club community for years to come.

Source:: The Leaked Waco Video, Police Corruption, and The Man In The Blue Shirt

Hysteria and American Injustice

How fear and misinformation causes mass deprivation of freedom and liberty.

The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 have served as an historical reminder of the importance of Due Process to the preservation of a free society for over 300 years. Utilizing fear as a justification, and the hysteria created by that fear, over 100 individuals were arrested for witchcraft and more than 20 people were hanged or pressed to death without the protections of the Bill of Rights.

More than 100 years later, the Framers of our Bill of Rights recognized that the use of threats to coerce people into not remaining silent “makes a mockery of the criminal justice system.” Unless the accused were protected against coercion through the “deprivation of liberty, or psychological intimidation, the rights of the individual citizens to be free from arbitrary power of the government simply did not exist.”

Although most Americans understand the Salem Witch Trials as an unjust deprivation of liberty, this understanding has unfortunately not resulted in safeguards sufficient to prevent fear from being used to justify comparable violations of Due Process. The era of McCarthyism is a too recent reminder of the power and ability of hysteria to override liberty.

The mass arrest of more than 170 people in Waco represents a modern day witch trial being justified through a false and irresponsible law enforcement and media narrative that is attempting to use fear and hysteria to justify blatant Due Process violations.

The false narrative is attempting to use fear to overwhelm the fact that every arrest was based on an identical generic warrant containing zero individualized or specific evidence establishing probable cause beyond expression of membership in a club.

Every individual was also given identical $1 million dollar bonds based on the belief that those arrested were not being cooperative. Bonds were intentionally punitive, regardless of the fact that the right to remain silent is the cornerstone of the 5th Amendment and punitive bail is a violation of the 8th Amendment. Bonds are intended to help ensure attendance at required court appearances and reduce the risk of flight. They are not intended to force cooperation.

In order to promote fear and hysteria, law enforcement irresponsibly released unsubstantiated statements that bikers have issued a “green-light” to kill “any uniformed officer” in Texas even though these claims are patently absurd. Law enforcement also falsely reported that the gathering was a gang meeting to discuss turf even though it is fact that it was a political gathering solely intended to discuss legislative matters.

In the short-term, fear-based misinformation is highly effective at hiding facts because of the instinctual response of most uninformed people when they are scared. Many are willing to sacrifice liberty for safety, That is why there has not yet been mass outrage outside of the motorcycle club community. But as time passes, as the fear driven tactics become more transparent, and as May 17th is properly viewed from the conceptual framework of Due Process, there will be a revision in perspective from almost everyone, including non-motorcyclists.

If history is an accurate guide, many mass deprivations of Due Process like the Salem Witch Trials are eventually understood as unjust actions based on hysteria. Unfortunately, the process of revelation, if not sped up, can take many years compared to fear which is immediate and spreads rapidly. Even if eventually exonerated, individuals lives are ripped apart emotionally, physically, and financially.

So how does one contribute to speeding up the process of re-framing the Waco discussion to focus on issues of Due Process? Expose the unjustified fear through personal discussions and social media. The personal is political. Every mind that is changed brings us a step closer. Remind those you communicate with that fear has too often been used to justify gross abuses of the criminal justice system. It was a fear of witchcraft that was used by authorities to create enough hysteria that people accepted mass arrests and executions of their own people without a semblance of Due Process.

The actions of the few should never be used to justify targeting an entire class of people based solely on appearance, expression, or association. Certainly most law enforcement would prefer to not be defined by the undeniable and highly publicized examples of police corruption and criminal RICO indictments.

Initially, the narrative that there would be a larger gang war following Waco, one in which civilians were at risk and even uniformed officers were being targeted, was used in an attempt to sway public opinion through fear in order to justify obvious mass Due Process violations. This narrative was also used by law enforcement coast-to-coast to justify discriminatory targeting of clubs and political gatherings.

But as the event in Waco begins to be exposed, as innocent individuals are released on drastically reduced bonds and begin to tell their stories, the issues of Due Process have started to compete with the fear driven law enforcement narrative.

A competing perspective is emerging that frames the discussion in terms of the civil liberties of the innocent. The American system of criminal justice, when functioning properly, understands that the ends do not justify the means. The suffering of even a single innocent far outweighs the public interest in punishing the guilty. In fact, this was the philosophy that ultimately ended the witch trials in Salem.

Increase Mather, president of Harvard College, urged that the standards of evidence for witchcraft must be equal to those for any other crime, concluding that “It would better that ten suspected witches may escape than one innocent person be condemned.” Amid waning public support for the trials, Governor Phips dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer in October and by that May Phips had pardoned and released all those in prison on witchcraft charges. (See http://www.history.com/topics/salem-witch-trials)

The narrative of the innocent is based in truth and is a linchpin to a free society. Every person that talks about, writes about, and discusses the gross violations of Due Process in Waco helps extinguish the fear that allows witch trials to happen in the first place. Remember that the personal action has political implications. Every person you talk to brings us one step closer to the critical mass required to change public opinion and generate the necessary pressure to end the suffering of innocents in Waco.

David “Double D” Devereaux is the Chairman & Spokesperson for the Washington State Confederation of Clubs and US Defenders, The Motorcycle Profiling Project, and works with Confederations and Coalitions nationwide. Contact:

Source:: Hysteria and American Injustice