Monthly Archives: April 2016

Idaho COC members sue Eastern Idaho State Fair for civil rights violations

By Richard Lester

The law offices of Richard M. Lester have filed a Federal Court law suit against the Eastern Idaho State Fair on behalf of members of the Idaho COC. The suit was filed in Idaho Federal Court for civil rights violations stemming from an incident where they were told to leave the fair for wearing so-called “gang-colors”.

On September 1, 2013, members of the Brother Speed, Black Hand, Draugr, and Ph*ts motorcycle clubs attended the Eastern Idaho State fair with AIM attorney Michael DeKruif to confront fair personnel regarding the fair’s policy of discriminating against certain motorcycle clubs. The fair has a policy where anyone representing themselves as part of any outlaw/criminal motorcycle gang, or wearing attire that associates them with gang attire, will be asked to leave the fairgrounds. The fair claims that Brother Speed is a so-called “gang”, and that the other clubs are so-called “support clubs.” Rather than removing their colors, the club members decided to leave the fair, and they were given refunds.

In the lawsuit, we are seeking damages and an injunction prohibiting the fair from enforcing such a policy as it violates the members’ rights of freedom of expression, assembly, and due process.

The Law Office of Richard M. Lester, AIM, and NCOM will remain united in the fight for bikers’ rights as we have been doing for over three decades and will continue to do so.

The case is in the discovery phase, with more depositions planned in the near future.

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Utah Police Want Bikers Out! Admit to Unconstitutional Harassment

By David “Double D” Devereaux

There is a fundamental misunderstanding by many in law enforcement that membership in a motorcycle club is to be treated as probable cause that a crime is occurring. This common misconception is perfectly demonstrated by public comments made by police in St. George, Utah relating to motorcycle clubs and the fact that they target them in order to discourage motorcycle clubs from riding their motorcycles in St. George. The arrogance of these statements proves a fundamental lack of understanding related to basic constitutional principles related to the 1st Amendment and the 4th Amendment. Utah motorcyclists should unify in an effort to pass legislation addressing the issue of motorcycle profiling and reduce the mentality currently exercised by the St. George PD.

Police Admit To Intentionally Profiling Motorcycle Clubs

Sgt. Williams of the SGPD made statements to ABC 4 Utah, admitting to targeting individuals because they are members of motorcycle clubs in order to discourage them from riding their motorcycles in St. George. Sgt. Williams makes a broad based assumption about members of motorcycle clubs and admits to targeting them in order to send a clear signal that police will not tolerate motorcycle clubs on the streets of St. George.

“The Bandido outlaw motorcycle club has a chapter in the city and law enforcement is doing everything it can to prevent more.”

“We’re kind of, best word I can think of is a shiny pearl to these clubs that they would want to get a foothold in St. George,” Sgt. David Williams said.

“Sgt. Williams says officers have been putting the heat on club members, citing them for minor violations. “We try to make ourselves a hard target. That they don’t want to be here. They realize they are getting police attention, they know we are watching so they want to move on,” Sgt. Williams said.

(See St. George Police Targeting Motorcycle Gangs Aiming To Prevent Future Club Chapters, By Hailey Higgins, Good For Utah (ABC4 Utah), 04/21/2016)

St. George Police Intentionally Violate The 1st Amendment

The general policy of the SGPD, as described by Sgt. Williams, is to target individuals because they are members of motorcycle clubs. Obviously, club members are visible because they wear motorcycle club related paraphernalia. The stated goal is to discourage motorcycle club members from riding their motorcycles in St. George. The stated goal is to make club members “move on.” He police admit they selectively target motorcycle club members so they “don’t want to be there.”

The SGPD must be taught that motorcycle clubs, including those clubs labeled organized or criminal gangs by authorities, are 1st Amendment protected associations. There is “no evidence that by merely wearing [1% motorcycle club] “colors,” an individual is “involved in or associated with the alleged violent or criminal activity of other [1% 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).

In fact, a source personally familiar with the Bandido membership in St. George reports to the MPP that none of the St. George chapter of Bandidos has a criminal record or history of criminal activity. The SGPD admits that they specifically target individuals in this chapter for nothing more than being Bandidos. No individualized reasonable suspician or probable cause is considered.

To permit police “to object to any person on public roads who wears the insignia of [a 1% 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, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Civil No. 10-6132, Opinion, 9/30/2015, p.28)

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Denver DA Green Lights 1st Degree Murder?

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The Denver District Attorney’s office announced yesterday that no charges will be filed against “an off-duty Colorado Department of Corrections employee” who killed Victor Mendoza after provoking a conflict at the Colorado Motorcycle Expo on January 30th of this year.

The DA’s decision flies in the face of the Denver Police Departments investigation. At a news conference Commander Ron Saunier said, “The Denver Police Department conducted hundreds of hours investigating the brawl and presented it to the district attorney’s office on Monday as a first-degree murder case.

“We have considered this a homicide investigation throughout,” Saunier said. “I believe we have done a complete and thorough investigation.”

But the District Attorney is claiming that the shooting was self-defense.

“The investigation confirmed that shots were fired by Mendoza and Derrick Duran, the corrections department employee” says a statement by the DA’s office.

The DA claims that “Duran fired the first shot, injuring one person. Within a minute, Mendoza shot at Duran, grazing his torso and hitting another man behind Duran. Duran then fatally shot Mendoza.”

But a source close to investigation has told the MPP “that the DA’s conclusion that Mendoza fired a shot is based on a single witness. That single witness is Duran, the Iron Order member that shot and killed Mendoza.”

This source had told the MPP that the Iron Order witness that was struck by a bullet after grazing Duran gives a conflicting statement. “The Iron Order member that was shot says that it wasn’t Mendoza that fired, it was someone in a red shirt that has not been identified.”

“Police found a Derringer, not licensed to anyone, that had been fired once and failed to fire a second time. There is nothing that connects the Derringer to Mendoza”, says the source.

Even if the DA’s version of the story were accurate the facts would still justify 1st degree murder charges against Duran. “Duran was waving and pointing a loaded weapon at a crowd of unarmed people”, says the source. Whoever shot and grazed Duran did so in self defense and in the defense of every innocent and unarmed person present.

Why would the DA defer to the witness with the largest conflict of interest? This is particularly concerning considering that the Denver Police Department, after conducting hundreds of hours of investigations, submitted 1st degree murder charges against Duran to the DA.

The DA’s decision to ignore the conclusions of the Denver Police Department is outrageous. The pattern of evidence is undeniable. The Iron Order consistently provokes conflicts that result in the unjustified use of deadly force and the murder of Victor Mendoza is a clear example. The DA’s decision is a slap in the face of Justice and also risks the very real possibility that the Iron Order and other clubs like them will continue provoking conflicts and more innocent people will be killed. Essentially, the DA has given a green light to murder.

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NCOM Board calls for unity in fight for biker-friendly legislation

By Richard Lester

The Board of Directors of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists endorses and will support any legislation that benefits all motorcyclists starting with the national anti-profiling bill.

It is time for National and State motorcycle rights organizations, along with independent riders, to become a true legislative force. Far too long have the rights of motorcyclists been ignored by the Federal government along with the State legislatures. Everyone must come into the 21st century and become the legislative and voting force of this great Republic.

“If a house is divided against itself that house will not be able to stand”, we will stand.

The National Coalition of Motorcyclists

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Hessians MC Targeted and Harassed by Chino PD

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The Motorcycle Profiling Project recently received a copy of two formal complaints sent to the Chino Police Department relating to a blatant instance of motorcycle profiling and discrimination involving a member and prospective member of the Hessians Motorcycle Club.

Mr. Bill G and a Mr. Bill E were followed and then stopped on a bogus pretext. Officers proceeded to unconstitutionally search both individuals and their property without consent or probable cause. The stop also extended far beyond accepted 4th Amendment stop duration standards. This stop typifies the experience of thousands of motorcyclists on a regular basis. The pattern of motorcycle profiling in the state of California is irrefutable and the epidemic requires legislative relief.

THE INITIAL STOP

On the evening of March 12, 2016 Bill G and Bill E were leaving a bike shop in Chino when they noticed they were obviously being followed by numerous Chino Police vehicles as they came to a stop at a light. Mr. E describes in a formal complaint to the Chino PD:

“On the evening of 3/12/2016, [we] had just left “The Bike Shop” in the City of Chino. We went there to set up an appointment for Mr G’s bike to be worked on…

As we left The Bike Shop…we witnessed several Chino PD vehicles at 5th Avenue to our right. As we passed 6th Avenue, I witnessed more Chino PD vehicles to the left. They immediately pulled out behind us. We were obviously aware of their presence. There should not have been an issue. We were following the posted speed limit and all traffic laws.

As we approached Central Avenue, I could see the police cars change lanes in my mirrors. The light was already red as we STOPPED and put BOTH feet down. We looked left, looked right and left again. We proceeded to make a right turn onto Central Ave. To our surprise the Chino PD vehicle’s red lights came on. Within seconds the sirens followed as we were pulling over to the nearest safe spot.

I was told to keep my hands on the handlebars. Officer Bemowski told me to remove my helmet, set it down and remain with my hand on my bars. He then stated he had stopped me (us) for “running a red light.” (not something anyone would do knowing that police are behind them)

After being detained, both individuals had their persons searched without consent. Bill E continues:

As he proceeded to remove Mr. G from his motorcycle, Officer Bemowski turned Mr. G around and searched him, removing all of his belongings. As I watched this I could see several Chino police officers standing behind me. After Bemowski was finished with Mr. G he sat him on the curb and approached me.

Bemowski removed me from my bike, turned me around, and asked, “Do you have any weapons?”

I replied, “No I do not.”

Not once was I asked for my drivers license, registration, or insurance. Instead Bemowski helped himself to my belongings without my consent, handing them over to another officer. My wallet was riffled through. After everything was emptied out of my many pockets, (note- still nothing illegal nor any weapons) I was sat down on the curb.

OFFICER’S WORDS PROVE THIS WAS MOTORCYCLE PROFILING

Clearly the officers were not motivated by a red light violation. Bill E says a female officer “proceeded to have me pull up my shirt front and back and ask questions about my tattoos. As she was doing this, an unmarked gang task force unit arrived.

The Officer exited his unit and stated, “I saw these two earlier.” As he walked around me he stated, “Ohhh. No, these are not VAGOS. I wish they were.” As another officer proceeded to ask me, “ What’s with all the VAGOS lately anyhow?” I responded, “How should I know?”

Bill G confirms the obvious anti-motorcycle club prejudice.

“As the search continued (all for an alleged red light citation) his hand brushed against my silver pin on my vest. His then offending statement, “Oh sorry, I touched your 1% ‘er Diamond.” But in reality it was NOT a 1% ‘er diamond. He clearly was exhibiting his prejudice towards my looks or “class of persons.” This is called profiling, and it is unconstitutional.”

This describes a typical motorcycle profiling stop. Unfortunately, under normal 4th Amendment analysis using a traffic infraction as a pretext to conduct an investigatory stop is perfectly legal. This is exactly why a legislative solution is required. The legislature can provide more protection than the limited protections offered by the 4th Amendment.
This stop also typifies most motorcycle profiling stops because the issue goes beyond a mere pretext. Most profiling stops in the status quo also violate other 4th Amendments guarantees.

ILLEGAL SEARCH VIOLATION

Absent probable cause or consent, a search of an individual’s vehicle is considered unreasonable under the 4th Amendment. Obviously there was no probable cause for a search in this instance. After the questionable personal searches found nothing illegal (no doubt justified through officer safety) their was no justification for vehicle searches. But that’s exactly what happened. Mr. E continues:

“I then Watched Bemowski rifle through Mr. G’s bike without consent, including his bags.”


Bill G’s complaint confirms that the denial of consent was ignored by all officers involved.

“I CLEARLY stated that, loud enough that ALL officers on the scene could hear me, “I do NOT consent to ANY search of my person OR property.”

This was a violation of my 4th Amendment rights to the United States Constitution. To only be ignored, as though I’ve been judged as some kind of criminal or someone to be taken advantage of, is unacceptable and must be reprimanded.


After Bill G’s bike was searched, attention shifted to Mr. E’s motorcycle. Bill E states:

“Officer Bemowski now turned his attention to my bike. He asked, “May I search your bike?” I responded, “For what reason?” He stated, “For my own safety.”

I told him he had no right to search it. As he began removing bag after bag he opened each one and dumped the contents, including tool pouches and overnight belongings, onto the street. With one last compartment left he asked, “Where is your registration and insurance?”

I replied, “It’s in the only compartment left you have not removed my belongings from.”


The officer then asked whether Mr. E had been drinking or doing drugs. Obviously not.
At this point the search goes from unreasonable to completely abusive when a Chino PD officer rips Mr. E’s seat from the bike destroying the holding tab. The complaint continues:

After successfully finding my current registration and insurance card, he then asked me, “Whats under the seat?”

I responded “my battery.” He asked, “How do you remove the seat?”

I responded, “You have to remove the bag located on the rear of the seat in order to access the bolt that holds it down.”

To my surprise Officer Bemowski had pulled up my seat without removing this bolt and had it spun sideways, obviously not the correct way to remove it…

After all this abuse, not a single illegal thing was found. I was handed a citation, # 276003, for allegedly running a red light and told I may pick up all my belongings and put them all back in my compartments.

I started doing so when I asked Officer Bemoski, “How should I re-install my seat after you forcefully pulled it up and bent the holding tab?”

He replied, “I guess that’s why you have all those tools laying on the ground.”

UNREASONABLE STOP DURATION VIOLATION

Independent of of no cause or consent for vehicle searches, this incident also violates the common 4th Amendment principle of reasonable stop duration. Traffic stops are only allowed to last as long as it would take a reasonable officer to issue a citation under the particular circumstances. Although there is no hard and fast rule, 20 minutes was identified in a recent Supreme Court case as reasonable. Bill E says that the stop “lasted well over an hour.”
Moreover, the officer had already searched Mr. E’s bags BEFORE he asked for identification. The officer was intentionally extending the duration of the stop with no probable cause or reasonable suspicion justifying his extensive search instead of immediately asking for identification and issuing a violation.

CONCLUSIONS

In conclusion, Mr. G and Mr. E were targeted, followed, stopped, and harassed based on their appearance, as opposed to their behavior. This stop typifies the practice of using a minor traffic infraction as a pretext for an investigatory stop. And like most profiling stops, this stop also violated well established 4th Amendment protections. As the pattern of evidence continues to mount, legislative action provides the best opportunity to end the practice of motorcycle profiling currently hiding under the cover of pretext in California and most of America.

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Maryland’s Motorcycle Profiling Law Headed To Governor’s Desk

By David “Double D” Devereaux

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Maryland will become the second state in America with a law condemning motorcycle profiling. With 62 sponsors, including the Chair of the House Judiciary, HB 785 unanimously passed through all committees and both floors of the legislature with an overwhelming show of non-partisan legislative support and is headed to the Governor’s desk for signing. The Governor has been a strong supporter of the motorcycling community, so that signature is all but guaranteed.

Unanimous approval of a law addressing motorcycle profiling speaks for itself. The fact that both Washington State and Maryland were able to pass near identical legislation into law without a single no vote across the board is monumental. This includes every active and former law enforcement officer serving in the legislature.

Maryland followed the same grassroots lobbying strategy and policy arguments developed in Washington State. Maryland’s success is definitive proof that manpower changes almost everything about lobbying and strategy. The process in both states took approximately 15 months and only 2 legislative sessions. And those taking the lead in both states were not seasoned lobbyists. They were relatively new and embraced a vision not jaded or constrained by 30 years without sufficient manpower.

The Motorcycle Profiling Project was founded by individuals that were on the forefront of the effort in Washington State because of how well the defined process worked in Maryland. The entire reason the MPP exists is to replicate the successes in Washington and Maryland by providing hands-on assistance to any state trying to pass laws addressing motorcycle profiling and discrimination, step by step, beginning to end.

The activists in Maryland are a testament to the idea that hard work, preparation, persistence and manpower translates to success. In 2015, Lenny and Shelley Holcomb from ABATE collaborated with the Maryland Confederation of Clubs and jump started the process. The bill passed the Senate unanimously but ran out of time. In 2016, the Holcombs moved to South Carolina and the COC took the lead.

Learning from the previous session, Bill “Colt” Kaitz, co-founder of the MPP, took charge of the lobbying effort. In only his second year, Colt is recognized as one of the best lobbyists in Annapolis by legislators themselves. Colt is now a household name to virtually every legislator in Maryland and it happened very quickly. The political capital generated by this one man will benefit the state of Maryland and beyond for many years to come.

Learning how to direct manpower in support of properly prepared policy analysis and strategic planning has resulted in the unanimous passage of a law to address motorcycle profiling in the only two states in America that have diligently followed the same process and embraced the same philosophy. The results are irrefutable.

Motorcycle profiling is a national issue in America. Laws addressing the issue are now reality coast to coast and even federal legislation is being considered. Maryland is an excellent example.

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