Monthly Archives: November 2015

Unethical Journalism, Fear and The Erosion of Civil Liberties

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The level of bias and sensationalism demonstrated by a local Washington State News Media source implying that the tragedy in Waco could happen in Washington is equally shameful and irresponsible. Good journalism explores, researches, and reveals both sides of an issue. Good journalism embraces truth over surface level and unsubstantiated tabloid tactics. This is simply not good journalism, it is unethical journalism. This type of sensationalized reporting is exactly what perpetuates the cycle of discrimination and stereotyping that has resulted in an epidemic of profiling nationwide.

There is no balance and no research. The only source is an unidentified and biased Seattle Police Detective that makes claims without validation. A claim without a warrant is not an argument.

“The motorcycle gang culture is a culture of violence. To be a part of that culture is to basically understand that at any time you need to be able to either defend yourself or your organization over a disrespect or a slight.”

Curious why the Seattle Police Detective is not asked why people would ever join a department that has had officers indicted and even been investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal activity?

Unethical Journalism is Always One Sided

There is absolutely no discussion or acknowledgement of the Due Process issues involved with Waco or the idea that the suffering of the innocent outweighs punishing the guilty. It is not once mentioned that over 170 individuals were arrested without individualized probable cause and given $1 million bonds because Waco officials believed those arrested were not being cooperative. Why would a legitimate news source choose to sensationalize a stereotyped and protected community over a legitimate discussion of the 5th and 8th Amendments? The answer is simple. A legitimate news source would not.

There is also zero discussion about peaceful political gatherings involving most clubs in Washington State that have been occurring for decades. There is no acknowledgement that government profiling of motorcyclists is illegal in Washington State and that grassroots motorcycle club members were the driving force behind the law (RCW 43.101.419) passed in 2011. There is also zero discussion about membership in motorcycle clubs being constitutionally protected associations.

Instead of legitimate discussions, Q13 chooses to perpetuate fear through sensationalism, ignoring that the facts surrounding Waco have not yet been revealed. This is irresponsible journalism, particularly when competing narratives are not even acknowledged. To imply that similar violence could occur in Washington without knowing these facts is specious at best. To imply that the actions of the few define the whole is not only a fallacy of logic, it is illegal in Washington.

These Statements Are Not Only Unethical, They Are Illegal in Washington

RCW 43.101.419 says motorcycle profiling is the illegal practice of using the fact that an individual rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle related paraphernalia as a factor in deciding to take any enforcement action against that individual. This is the law. Membership in a motorcycle club is also constitutionally protected by the 1st Amendment. It is unethical journalism to promote a stereotype that is illegal to use as even a factor in government action.

During the television broadcast a co-anchor interjected stating that he knew a Bandido that was an average working family man. The co-anchor then asked the reporter whether she was saying that all Bandidos were criminals. The reporter replied by not answering the question. She instead replies by asking why any non-criminal would join a club with such a criminal reputation. This circular answer begs the question.

Many organizations have members with a criminal past. Many organizations have individuals break the law. But the actions of these individuals do not define the entire group. This is called stereotyping, and it is discriminatory. Applying this rationale across the board would impact the majority of legal associations from churches to VFW’s. It is irresponsible, discriminatory, and inconsistent with state and federal law.

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Idaho Police Chief Conducts Outrageous Motorcycle Profiling Stop

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Motorcycle Profiling Boise Idaho Dismissed for Excessive Force?

The motorcycle profiling epidemic in America is particularly evident in certain states. Idaho is irrefutably one of those states as evidenced by recent military-style blockades in Pocatello, unconstitutional raids on clubhouses in Boise, and traffic stops at gunpoint outside Shoshone. The pattern of evidence continues to mount. The necessity for legislation addressing the issue motorcycle profiling is self-evident when a police chief is conducting traffic stops on motorcycles gunpoint without cause.

The MPP received the following incident report from an individual on his way to a COC regional meeting in Boise. According to the victim, the police chief from a small town in Idaho decided that it was appropriate to pull his van, James Bond style, across both lanes of a 2 lane highway to stop traffic, jump out with his gun drawn, all in order to conduct a simple traffic stop. Three Sheriffs Deputies joined the stop.

To the MPP,

“On the 15th of September I was heading for a Confederation of Clubs meeting in Boise, which was on the 17th. I was on a two lane highway and doing about 90mph when a van pulled across the road to block traffic in both lanes. The driver runs to the back of van and points a pistol at me and yells at me in a very excited tone. He handcuffed me, was all in all a jerk, and the Chief of Police of the upcoming town of Shoshone.

Three Sheriffs deputies arrived on scene soon after the van pulled across the roadway. They were following me and had called for help.

One of them wrote the ticket. $155 for doing 89mph in a 65mph zone. After running my paperwork they turned me loose and gave all my knives back. I gave them one of my books and told them they needed to read it and I would be back and give them a quiz.

Upon returning home, [wife’s name omitted for privacy] sent them the $155. A few days later I called the county Clerk and ask for a copy of their “Use of force policy”. She said a officer would be calling me, no call. Two days later my check was returned with a letter saying the officer never turned in the ticket so it was Dismissed! What the hell just happened? Never happened to me before.”

Is it a coincidence that the ticket was dismissed or did inquiring about use of force policies cause them to back down? Do the officers involved even realize that the initial act of calling for backup to conduct a simple traffic stop is based on the discriminatory presupposition that motorcyclists are inherently dangerous? This was a single motorcyclists that had done nothing to justify the belief that he was dangerous.

This incidence demonstrates that the motorcycle profiling epidemic is alive in Idaho. Dangerous traffic maneuvers, excessive backup and felony stop tactics should only be reserved for situations where there is reasonable suspicion of actual crime or violence, not a simple traffic infraction like speeding. It is clear that law enforcement in Idaho must adopt policies and simple training to prevent and condemn the practice of motorcycle profiling. These incidents are not only civil rights violations they are potential powder kegs of discriminatory deadly force based purely on appearance as opposed to behavior.

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Sheriffs Ban Motorcycle Clothing From New Mexico Courthouse

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Members of the Guardians of the Children, a nonprofit organization of motorcyclists in New Mexico dedicated to supporting abused and abandoned children, have recently been denied entrance into the courthouse unless they remove clothing identifying affiliations with motorcycle organizations. In fact, Sheriffs have expanded banned clothing to include anything motorcycle affiliated. This is a blatant violation of the 1st Amendment and the practice should immediately cease and desist.

The Story

The MPP recently received a letter from Annette Torrez, representing the New Mexico Motorcyclist Rights Organization, informing the project about recent discriminatory actions by Sheriffs responsible for security at the Bernalillo District Court House.

According to Torrez, sheriffs at the Bernalillo Courthouse have been infringing on member’s right to expression specifically related to motorcycle club attire.

“First they told them [Guardians of Children] they had to turn their vests inside-out, the vest which portrays the patch of the organization . . . The members said they would not wear their vest inside out. Next they were asked to remove their vest and turn them inside out so none of the patches are displayed (which they have) so they can continue to support the children. Now your officers are telling them they may not wear any clothing that is motorcycle affiliated.”

“Officers have made prejudicial comments that they are nothing but motorcycle club members and Hells Angels supporters. Very negative comments such as this have been made several times, especially to the female members. Guardians of the Children have always attended in a peaceful, non-confrontational manner, even when officers have been rude and disrespectful.”

The Right to Wear Motorcycle Club Colors in a Courthouse is Well Established

The Supreme Court says that individuals have the 1st Amendment right to wear clothing which displays writing or designs in a courthouse. In 1971, the Supreme Court concluded that a shirt reading “F*#K THE DRAFT” was protected expression. See Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).

There are even Federal cases specific to motorcycle club colors. In Sammartano v. First Judicial District Court (2002) the court said that wearing of motorcycle club colors in a courthouse building is protected speech under the First Amendment, and arguments relating to intimidation or the potential for violence based on general stereotypes do not overwhelm this right. See Sammartano v. First Judicial District Court, 303 F.3d 959 (9th Cir.2002).

Recent Federal case law confirms that motorcycle club colors as protected expression. A US District Court this past September, relying on Supreme Court precedent, concluded that the government may not impose restrictions on an individual solely because of displaying membership in a motorcycle club.

COLES v. CARLINI, IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY, Civil No. 10-6132 OPINION, 9/30/2015, p.28:

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)

The unconstitutional nature of denying the Guardians of Children entry into the Bernalillo Courthouse is irrefutable. Denying access to anyone wearing clothing that is motorcycle affiliated is draconian. Long-standing Supreme Court precedent and more recent Federal Appeals Court precedent specific to motorcycle club attire in courthouses are unequivocal in their defense of the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

NMMRO Pursuing Relief

According to Torrez, on November 12th Guardians of Children President Frank Monanto, member Sylivianna Esquibel and Annette Torrez met with Sheriff Manny Gonzales to discuss the matter. In addition to “no colors” harassment, many of the Guardians of Children members “have received rude and uncalled-for treatment by several of the officers.” Torrez says Sheriff Gonzales apologized for the treatment by his deputies and asked the NMRO to report the matter to their internal affairs division and “he will see the issue is addressed.”

In terms of the 1st Amendment issue, Sheriff Gonzales suggested making an appointment with Judge Nash, Chief Justice, where the violation can be addressed, says Torrez.

Conclusions

The NMMRO is doing exactly what all motorcyclists should do when faced with blatant discrimination. They are fighting back to solidify the rights base of motorcyclists in New Mexico and elsewhere. Exhausting administrative remedies opens a dialogue with those responsible for imposing policy and solidifies the NMMRO as a legitimate and active political entity. Just as New Mexico can point to a decision in Nevada relating to motorcycle colors in a courthouse, others will be able to point to New Mexico. As the pattern of evidence expands, every challenge to government restrictions on access to motorcyclists is more likely to succeed as do the legislative efforts to secure equal access.

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Why the Brother Speed MC Victory is So Important

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The Brother Speed MC settlement over a 2013 raid at their Nampa, Idaho clubhouse is a textbook example of how law enforcement uses the media following baseless military-style raids to promote a negative perception of motorcycle clubs to the general public. Almost always, these raids amount to nothing but a photo op to feed a paradigm of profiling and discrimination. But notice that the stories about the settlement are barely a blip on the radar compared to the news coverage of the initial raid. It is important that Brother Speed’s story be told and shared in an attempt to encourage others to fight back and balance the scales of perception from Sons of Absurdity back to reality.

In August 2013, over 40 heavily armed state and federal law enforcement agents raided the Brother Speed clubhouse in Nampa and held everyone captive for over 3 hours. The warrant was sealed so there was no reasoning given for the raid. Of course, nothing was found in the clubhouse and no one was arrested or charged with a crime. But that did not stop law enforcement from seizing property and spreading generalized propaganda to justify a culture of discrimination.

Boise Police Gang Unit Detective Dave Leavitt was not on that raid, but claims to have extensive experience dealing with what he calls Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs in Idaho and offered “insight” into the Brother Speed MC to local media outlets.

As reported by 7 KTVB.com news in Idaho on August 30, 2013, Leavitt said that:

groups like those raided by federal agents in Nampa are different than just an average group of riders who like to get together on the weekends, wear leather and ride.

What’s the line between them? Criminal activity. The outlaw motorcycle clubs or gangs, like Brother Speed, is going to commit criminal acts.” Leavitt continued. “Brother Speed started in the late 60s in Boise, with a group of motorcycle enthusiasts, but today police say the group has changed over time. Eventually it morphed and changed into what it is today, an outlaw motorcycle club with a three-piece patch that commits criminal activity.”

These generalized claims are based on pure stereotype as demonstrated by the lack of particularized proof of criminality. Brother Speed MC is simply not a criminal organization and the Nampa chapter is a perfect example of police rhetoric being dis-proven by reality. According to a press release issued by the club’s attorney Craig Durham:

“Brother Speed was founded in Boise in 1969 by a group of men with a common passion for riding American-made motorcycles . . . The members of the Nampa/Caldwell chapter members are primarily tradesmen, they said, including a pipe fitter, a tile setter, an electrician, and a plumber, among others. Four are retired.”

Brother Speed MC refused to just accept excessive civil liberty violations as the result of a military-style SWAT raid accompanied by a sealed warrant:

The club and its members sued numerous federal agents and the United States, saying their civil rights were violated when federal agents serving a search warrant broke down the door, set off flash-bang grenades, and sent dozens of heavily armed SWAT team members into the small home.

The club members were detained for up to three hours while agents forcibly removed their personal property, including their clothing, and confiscated club memorabilia, according to the club’s attorney, Craig Durham. “These were regular guys minding their own business that night,” Durham said. “They were not a threat, and there was no call for the use of terrifying, military-style tactics to serve a simple search warrant.”

“Ten members of the Brother Speed MC, along with the club itself, will be splitting a $16,500 payment from the United States government, to settle their lawsuit over a 2013 raid on their Nampa clubhouse that yielded no charges.” (See “Brother Speed settles suit against U.S. gov’t over Nampa raid, gets payment” – Nov 12, 2015 – Idaho – By Betsy Z. Russell; www.Spokesman.com)

Although the government is admitting no fault as a condition of the settlement, it is a big victory for a number of reasons. The club and its members are being compensated as a result of a deprivation of their rights as a result of an overly-broad and unjustified military-style raid. Moreover, the fact that law enforcement is not admitting fault will mean very little to the legislature when considering the costs of settlements compared to cost-free anti-motorcycle profiling legislation that reduces obvious civil liability exposure.

This victory demonstrates that motorcycle clubs, even those clubs labeled criminals by some in government, are not what sensationalized law enforcement reports say they are. Behind most raids is the true story of a motorcycle club, a 1st Amendment protected association, that deserves protection from discriminatory law enforcement practices fueled by inaccurate stereotypes.

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Waco Sealed Indictments, The Real Story Directly From One of The 9

By David “Double D” Devereaux

There is a lot of speculation relating to the 9 sealed indictments among the 106 indictments handed down by the Waco Grand Jury last week. The MPP received the following message from one of the 9 individuals that may provide some clarity.

Anonymous Source: Good afternoon sir. With all of the speculation and rumors about the 9 sealed indictments, I figured that I’d confirm to you that most of us 9 have been informed. Most everyone who was injured and in attendance at TP are in fact the 9. Through my attorney, we have arranged my surrender to Jack Harwell tomorrow afternoon… Most, if not all of us have in fact been informed of our arrest warrants.

MPP: Thank you. It is good to get direct and accurate information. I am truly sorry that you are going through this. To me this is about all motorcycle clubs and and the future of our whole community. I hope all goes well for you tomorrow and going forward. Would you be alright with me relaying the truth about the 9? Anonymous of course.

Anonymous Source: Absolutely. I believe that they have stooped to an all time low. They shot me for being unarmed and at an open event. On my family, we never intended any kind of violence. I lost my 20yr career and now am facing more loss. Even my attorneys are baffled.

MPP: And you were unarmed and shot by police? Unbelievably fucked up.

Anonymous Source: Yes. I was next to Danny “Diesel” Boyett. I couldn’t see anyone standing in front of me when I was shot. I was trying to make myself as small as possible as bullets were whizzing by.

MPP: Man, are you going to be able to make bond?

Anonymous Source: We’re hoping to. It’s set at $250k for us, but we are trying to get it lowered.

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Rolling Thunder Backs Authorities Illegal Demand For NO WEAPONS At Motorcycle Rally Today?

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Instances of authorities across America challenging the rights of bikers to legally posses and carry weapons is on the increase. In Milwaukee, naval authorities and county park officials have asked Rolling Thunder, a national nonprofit dedicated to Veterans advocacy, to promote an event celebrating the commissioning of a naval ship at Harbor Park. They have also asked Rolling Thunder to request participants refrain from exercising their 2nd Amendment right to carry concealed at the event. The Department of the Navy and Milwaukee County Parks can only request because Harbor Park is a public park where the right to carry is legal. So more troubling may be the fact that event promoters willingly encouraged motorcyclists to honor the request to relinquish these basic liberties. And even more troubling than that? The fact that so many motorcyclists are willing to comply with the request to relinquish basic rights that so many have fought and sacrificed to protect.

THE STORY IN MILWAUKEE

Tony Pan Sanfelipo, a true freedom fighter and active motorcycle rights advocate from Milwaukee, contacted and informed the MPP that the local Rolling Thunder chapter recently sent out an alert inviting the biker community to an event at a Harbor Park welcoming a naval ship being commissioned into service.

November 9th- USS Milwaukee will be coming into the harbor on Friday Nov.13th (changed to Sunday 15th)

NOTE: Absolutely NO WEAPONS allowed. Please leave at home or you will just need to stay home. THANKS!

Here is the info for Friday 13 Nov. KMC/Abate members to meet at 11:30 AM

Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 is in charge of the coordination of the bikes lined up to greet the ship when it comes in to the harbor…will have the bikers coming in at 11:30 AM. to meet in front of the War Memorial Center on Mason St. Bridge

Kickstands up at noon. Move to the harbor staging area, park and wait for the ship to come in. Flag on bikes if they have them.

Questions…..contact me.

Candy Parr

Rolling Thunder Chapter 2 Event Coordinator

Tim

Chairman of the Board

Rolling Thunder Chapter 2

This alert says, in bold type, NO WEAPONS. It is a clear mandate, not a request. The alert further states that if an individual feels the need to carry concealed they “just need to stay home.

Upon being confronted by Sanfelipo in an email, the director responded by placing the blame on the County Parks System and forwarding the following communication.

Nov. 10, 2015

Tim- I tried to get your number to call you but no one is calling back to give it to me. So here it is…..I was asked that there be NO CONCEAL CARRY at the park. I told them that we would abide to their wish. So the rule is No CC. Can’t be without the weapon please stay home. Sorry but rules are rules. If you have someone that wishes to talk about it here is my number

xxx-xxx-xxxx

The next day Rolling Thunder sends out an email placing all blame for the rule on Milwaukee County Parks and the Department of the Navy.

Nov. 11, 2015– NOTE: Absolutely NO WEAPONS allowed. Please leave at home or you will just need to stay home. THANKS!

This is a directive from the US NAVY and Milwaukee County Parks. They are not making us pull a permit for the park because of our reputation. (Yes, Rolling Thunder people do carry. RT is not against CC it is a directive from the US NAVY and Milw. county park system)

But, as noted by Sanfelipo:

“it was Rolling Thunder who turned this request into a mandate by bolding the edict at the top of their email. There was a lot of back-peddling and excuses by the RT [Rolling Thunder] chairman, but bottom line, no request, no rule, no order can supersede a constitutional right. We’re not entering a naval base, this event is in a public, county park (harbor park). There is no legal authority to restrict concealed carry there.”

WISCONSIN LAW

According to the Wisconsin Department of Justice it appears Sanfilipo is absolutely correct. Regardless of which party is imposing the rule, Wisconsin law prohibits any restrictions on concealed carry in a County Park. Imposing a NO WEAPONS or concealed carry rule is illegal. The Wisconsin DOJ’s “CARRYING CONCEALED WEAPON LAW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS” issued JUNE 1, 2013 makes it clear that concealed carry is permitted in County parks.

Can government prohibit the carrying of a concealed weapon in parks or other public lands?

No. “The restrictions only apply to government buildings. Persons with a CCW license may carry concealed on public lands. Wis. Stat. § 943.13(1m)(c)2 and § 943.13(1e)(cm).

The state’s publicly sponsored special events prohibition does not apply to outdoor parks that don’t charge an admission or have entrances that are locked when the event is closed. The law clearly allows concealed carry at the Harbor Park event.

What about publicly sponsored music or sporting events?

Special Events (e.g. sporting events, concerts, etc):

It is unlawful for any person to enter or remain at a special event if the organizers of the special event have notified the actor not to remain at the special event while carrying a firearm or with that type of firearm. The provision does not apply if the firearm is in a vehicle driven or parked in the parking facility, to any part of the special event grounds or building that is used as a parking facility. The law defines special event as an event that is open to the public, is for a duration of not more than three weeks, and either has designated entrances to and from the event that are locked when the event is closed or requires an admission. Wis. Stat. § 943.13(1m)(c)3.

NEVER GIVE UP YOUR RIGHTS

Never willingly give up your rights. This principle seems logical and apparent. For example, any attorney will tell you that you don’t willingly consent to a search. If authorities are asking, then they do not have legal grounds unless you give up your rights.

The same is true in this instance. If the legal right to prohibit legal concealed carry at this event existed, then there would be no request. Fundamental liberties should never willingly be relinquished and the 2nd Amendment is no exception.

According to their website, Rolling Thunder is a national organization that advocates for “troops, veterans, and POW/MIAs.” The regional director, as previously stated, has also recognized many in their own organization carry concealed. It just makes no sense that they would encourage motorcyclists to relinquish a fundamental liberty that veterans have fought so hard to protect. Veterans are a huge contingent of the motorcycling community and 2nd Amendment movement. Even more puzzling is that some motorcyclists are willing to so easily comply.

Sanfelipo sums up why all of this is so disconcerting.

“Further troubling is most bikers are willing to surrender their right to carry, just so they can show up, wave their flags, and act patriotic. The chairman from RT just didn’t get it. He thought it was trivial and wondered why I was making such a big deal about it. It’s not trivial, it’s the epidemic of apathy among the public that doesn’t see a problem with giving up rights because of an illegal rule or mandate. Agreeing to this request at the same time bikers and club members are being profiled around the country, told they should not be allowed to possess guns, and veterans being scrutinized about gun ownership? Unless we (especially bikers, since I would expect them to understand this more) absolutely refuse to allow our rights to be taken away like this, we won’t have any rights left at all. Today the 2nd Amendment, tomorrow the 1st, then the 4th, 5th, 9th and 14th and so on.”

CONCLUSIONS

Profiling and discrimination underlie these attempts based on the idea that bikers are more dangerous than other people, even those with no criminal record and legally obtained carry permits. It is critical that elements of the motorcycle rights movement do not become de-facto agents of the state that encourage individuals to give up fundamental liberties based on stereotype. This turns the community against itself resulting in individuals surrendering rights that the state has been unsuccessful taking on their own. The slippery slope is real and will gain momentum unless motorcyclists unify around the uncompromising principle of Liberty.

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Revoking Gun Rights from Motorcycle Clubs is on the Rise

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The trend to confiscate handguns and revoke legally obtained permits from motorcycle club members in America is on the rise. From Houston to Long Island, and now back to Texas, law enforcement is aggressively targeting the gun rights of those in motorcycle clubs. Merely labeling a motorcycle club a gang should not be a sufficient legal basis to revoke the right of a member to possess a handgun or a permit to carry that gun, particularly when that member has no criminal record and a legally obtained permit. Motorcycle clubs are 1st Amendment protected associations and the 2nd Amendment is fundamental. The Constitutional implications are obvious.

The Motorcycle Profiling Project recently received the following report describing an incident of blatant motorcycle profiling and discrimination. Based on the individual’s account, the police’s actions were purely motivated by the victim’s expression of membership in a motorcycle club, in this case, in the individual’s words, an all black outlaw motorcycle club that has a Chapter in Fort Worth.

In September, according to the provided description, this man was arrested for a turn signal violation as an excuse to conduct a search after he refused to consent to a search during a traffic stop. The man’s legal handgun was seized and police refuse to return his property. To add an unconstitutional insult to an unconstitutional injury, the police have filed with the state of Texas to repeal his CHL permit even though he had never previously been arrested and never been charged in a crime.

To info@motorcycleprofilingproject.com:

I was simply pulled over for not using my turn signal to change lanes on September 19th, 2015 in Ft, Worth Texas. I complied with all questions. I immediately gave them my CHL, my license and insurance.

I was then harassed with more questions regarding my club and patches on my black denim vest. They asked to search my motorcycle to which I said not without a search warrant.

After the officers spoke back and forth with their Sgt., I was then arrested on failure to use my turn signal. Pictures were then taken of me, my vest, and my bike. They proceeded to break my locked saddlebags and tear my saddlebag lids apart to search my motorcycle. They found nothing!

I have never been arrested before in my life, never charged with anything, degree professional, member of the Masonic fraternity and hardworking family man.

My weapon was confiscated and now the crooked cops are refusing to release it and they have filed with the state to have my CHL rights taken away.

I am hiring an attorney to fight this case as I have did nothing wrong nor has my club yet we continue to get pulled over and harassed and hauled to jail.

-Texas Biker [actual name omitted for privacy and safety of the victim]

Though we have verified the arrest through online reports, the MPP has issued a public information request to the Ft. Worth PD in hopes of gathering more information about this particular stop including confirmation of the gun seizure and an update will be provided.

What is the long term outlook for motorcycle club membership if that association means giving up your 2nd Amendment rights? How many men that have the legal right to posses and carry a gun will risk giving up that right if the the trend to restrict member gun ownership continues? There is a real risk of chilling and discouraging membership in 1st Amendment protected associations.

“In a very real way, the fate of motorcyclists will serve as a blue print for other groups in the future. Disarming bikers, even those associated that have no criminal records of any kind, is a strategy to cripple the rights base of one of the most visible and active grassroots social and political movements in America. Much of the movement’s efforts are to combat civil liberty abuses by law enforcement targeting motorcyclists. If bikers are successfully marginalized as criminals not worthy of baseline liberties, then the strength of our political movement exposing law enforcement abuses will be crippled as well. It’s a blueprint for social control in the 21st Century.” (read It’s Illegal for Motorcycle Club Members to Own Guns? That’s What Authorities Say.)

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Understanding The Waco Grand Jury Indictments- Does The 1st Amendment Exist in Texas?

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The Waco Grand Jury indictments on 106 individuals for engaging in organized crime is not a conviction. The Grand Jury only determines whether the prosecutor has sufficient evidence to indict. The Grand Jury only hears from the prosecutor, no defense attorneys are allowed, and does not make a determination on guilt. As examining trials made clear, the basis of the prosecutor’s argument in many of these case relies solely on an individual’s association with a motorcycle club that that had members accused of committing a crime on May 17th.

These indictments based solely on association, particularly the cases where the prosecutor admits that there is no evidence that the individual participated in any crime or violence, flies in the face of recent Federal Court precedent. Those associated with motorcycle clubs are protected against government impositions based solely on membership in an organization that the government has labeled a gang or criminal organization.

Although the Grand Jury is not open to the public, or even to defense attorneys, past examining trials challenging the probable cause of the initial arrests reveal that mere association with a club labeled a criminal organization has been the basis of the prosecution’s theory for many of the accused. It is very reasonable to assume that many of the 106 indictments handed down by the Waco Grand Jury are based on nothing more than association.

The ability to challenge the prosecution’s theory should become more balanced during an actual criminal trial because the standard of proof is much higher. Although I agree with many that are concerned about the seemingly broken Waco criminal justice system, recent Federal decisions seem to say that the underlying assumptions of an indictment based solely on association are unconstitutional.

A US District Court this past September, relying on Supreme Court precedent, concluded that the government may not impose restrictions on an individual solely because of their membership in a motorcycle club, including a 1% club, that the government labels as a gang or criminal organization. The criminal activity of others does not justify denying rights and privileges solely because of association with an unpopular organization.

COLES v. CARLINI, IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY, Civil No. 10-6132 OPINION, 9/30/2015, p.28:

“Defendants have pointed to no evidence that by merely wearing Pagan’s “colors,” Plaintiff was 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).

The decision by the Waco Grand Jury comes as no surprise to many considering the obviously over-broad arrests, excessive bail, and unsuccessful challenges to probable cause during examining trials. And it will not be a surprise if the Grand Jury hands down indictments on the remaining individuals whose cases have not been presented for indictment.

It seems obvious to most that an overly-broad indictment affords the prosecution the ability to offer plea agreements to individuals that committed no actual crime. This achieves two goals of the prosecution. First, plea deals shield future lawsuits over due process and issues like probable cause. Second, mass indictments increase the probability that pressure will result in individuals providing witness testimony to help convict others.

For example, Alex Hernandez who writes the mcatty.com blog states:

“From here, as I have mentioned many times before, the game of law begins. With the indictments returned for engaging in organized crime with underlying offenses of murder and assault, this is no different than buying a car. Start high and work your way down. Think about it: you are facing organized crime charges, your attorney is asking you for money you do not have, and there is a good chance you will spend the rest of your life in prison if you lose at trial. As plea negotiations take place and 90% of cases are worked out with a plea, the State Attorney’s Office makes you an offer for a lesser offense. Maybe credit for time served or extended probation. What do you do? Chances are you take the plea and try somehow, to move on with your life. Of course, once you take the plea, there goes the civil rights violation lawsuit and the city of Waco lives to see another day.”

As much of the motorcycling community across America watches events in Waco unfold, we can only hope that the criminal justice system in Waco begins to recognize the existence of the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution and that innocent individuals are able to persevere and preserve their ability to seek civil lawsuits for the obviously unconstitutional actions of law enforcement in Waco.

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Why Waco Grand Jury Should Find Police Liable for Tragedy

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Waco_Grand_Jury_Police_Negligent_1

As the Waco Grand Jury convenes today to begin considering indictments on the 177 arrested as a result of the tragedy at Twin Peaks it becomes apparent that the inquiries are focused in the wrong direction. The Waco Grand Jury should be exploring law enforcement’s culpability in the May 17th Shooting.

I find it interesting that some are holding the Twin Peaks in Waco responsible for negligence based on the argument that they ignored Waco PD warnings that the meeting to take place on May 17th was a threat to public safety. When asked why the event was not shut down, the Waco PD responded that it would have been unconstitutional for the police to shut down the event. Although it is generally true that the police cannot disturb or shut down political events in public accommodations, evidence of a legitimate threat to public safety is a narrow exception. So the obvious question is, “Why is the Waco PD not negligent for failing to shut down the event when, based on their own claims, there was a legitimate evidence establishing a particularized threat to public safety?”

WACO PD CLAIMS THE MEETING PRESENTED A SPECIFIC THREAT TO PUBLIC SAFETY

In statements to the press, the Waco PD claim that they had “warned Twin Peaks management that hosting such an event as the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, which was to take place at the restaurant on May 17, could result in undue safety and security concerns for both patrons and restaurant employees. Approximately 72 hours before the event, police contacted Twin Peaks national headquarters in Dallas (directly) with these concerns, but Twin Peaks failed to cancel the event.” (see KWXT, Waco: Slain Biker’s Family Files Lawsuit Against Twin Peaks By Paul J. Gately, July 8, 2015.)

Law enforcement’s belief that there was a specific and legitimate threat to public safety is demonstrated by the heavily armed police presence in the parking lot prior to whatever sparked the shooting incident. The police presence included SWAT officers armed with assault weapons. This large show of force has led many sources to believe that police were tipped in advance that something was expected to go down that Sunday.

The combination of a warning 72 hours before the shooting and the massive show of military style force appears to make it very difficult to deny that law enforcement believed that there was a specific threat of violence threatening public safety.

WACO PD LEGALLY COULD HAVE, AND SHOULD HAVE, SHUT THE MEETING DOWN

Waco_Grand_Jury_Police_Negligent_3So why didn’t the Waco PD shut the event down if they knew there was a likelihood that violence would occur? Waco Police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton has said “Apparently the management wanted them here, and so we didn’t have any say on whether they could be here or not,” he added.

But is that correct? Is law enforcement not permitted to shut down an event even if there is reasonable suspicion to believe that there is a legitimate and specific threat of violence impacting public safety? The answer should be obvious to all.

Although it’s true that government agents are generally restrained from dictating whether an event occurs in a place of public accommodation, a legitimate threat to public safety is an exception to this general rule. In the case of Waco, the constitution would have permitted the Waco PD to shut the event down for a legitimate threat to public safety. Sure. Twin Peaks could have tried to sue, but if there was a legitimate, articulable and particularized threat to public safety then law enforcement’s actions would have been deemed constitutional.

Considering the government’s actions towards the Waco Twin Peaks following the shooting, the ability for law enforcement to act when there is a threat to public safety seems irrefutable. The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission shut down the Twin Peaks location, known for “bike nights” and its risque dress code for servers, for the next week. “It wasn’t a punitive measure, Swanton said; rather, it was closed because there’s “enough of a reason to believe that more violence would occur there, had they been allowed to remain open for the next seven-day period,” he said.

THE WACO PD FAILURE TO ACT BEFORE THE SHOOTING WAS NEGLIGENT

It seems rather absurd to hold the Twin Peaks more responsible for the tragedy than the Waco PD. The negligence suits against Twin Peaks are entirely based on law enforcement’s warning that there was a legitimate threat to public safety. But this seems to miss the truly important question. Why didn’t the Waco PD shut the meeting down, shut Twin Peaks down temporarily, in order to advert this particularized threat?

That’s exactly what they did following the shooting based on the belief that there was a threat of ongoing violence if Twin Peaks stayed open. And remember, the assertions of continued violence after the shooting were based on very thin intelligence and ridiculous claims of “green lighting” cops.

When the smoke clears and civil lawsuits are filed, the questions surrounding law enforcement’s failure to prevent the very threat to public safety that they claimed knowledge of a full 72 hours before the shooting will finally be answered. Unfortunately, the failure of law enforcement resulted in 9 dead, 18 injured, 177 highly questionable arrests, 177 cases of punitive $1 million bails, and millions in civil liability exposure that will ultimately be paid for through public tax dollars.

A proper Grand Jury inquiry should by all means include analysis of the role of law enforcement to intervene when there exists a credible threat to public safety.

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Only Bad Cops Fear Police Accountability Laws

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-31

The Motorcycle Profiling Project is not anti-law enforcement so much as it is pro-civil liberties and police accountability. Law enforcement is an essential element of any civilized, peaceful, and free society. There will always be bad people and crimes against innocents. Society must endow law enforcement with the power to truly protect and serve their communities. Unfortunately, power can easily be abused and discriminatory stereotypes often underlie abuses of discretion. So while it’s true that law enforcement must be granted extra-ordinary powers to enforce the law, it is equally true that that power must be regulated by the legislature and the courts to insure that ideologies driving law enforcement are not discriminatory or unconstitutional.

In fact, when Washington state passed the first law addressing motorcycle profiling in America one of our sponsors was a career law enforcement officer and every pro law enforcement legislator in Washington voted in favor of the legislation.

Representative Christopher Hurst, Chair of the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee in 2011, sponsored the bill after becoming aware of the issue the previous session. Representative Hurst served as a police officer for 25 years before he retired to pursue a career in the legislature. Representative Hurst recognized the issue when he was an active officer and believed that a simple policy and training was important to make law enforcement a more effective and accountable entity.

Representative Brad Klippert, an active duty officer from a conservative district in eastern Washington, opposed the bill in 2010 over concerns that it would unduly restrain officers from doing their job. In 2011, after a fully developed pattern of evidence was presented that could not be denied, Representative Klippert supported the bill by voting yes in both committee and on the floor.

When a legislator (even one with a law enforcement background) is exposed to blatant abuses driven by an inaccurate and overly broad stereotype their reaction may surprise you. Most legislators understand that one of their primary responsibilities is to manage the relationship between law enforcement and the community. Eliminating stereotypes in policing shifts law enforcement’s focus from appearance back to behavior, a far more effective indicator of criminal activity.

Reducing discriminatory policing actually improves the relationship between police and the citizenry they are intended to serve. Focusing on behavior will improve the ability to detect criminal behavior that may be missed when distracted by unreliable indicators like appearance. And, of course, discriminatory policing represents a gross mismanagement of public funds and risks mass civil liability exposure. Proper and inexpensive training is clearly a cost-beneficial solution.

In the end, the MPP is not anti-law enforcement at all. Rather, the MPP promotes police accountability through policy solutions that reduce abuses of discretion and improve law enforcement’s ability to truly protect and serve the community by focusing on actual criminal activity. There are a multitude of laws to prosecute and deal with bad apples in the biker community. Justice demands that the law reciprocate by protecting victims of discrimination at the hands of bad or improperly trained cops.

See an example of Anti-Profiling Support within the legislature:

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