Motorcycle Clubs Successfully Pressure State Farm to Change Policy?

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The MPP is pleased to report that the National Council of Clubs (NCOC) has successfully pressured State Farm Insurance to clarify that, as of June 19, 2017, it is no longer State Farm policy to deny coverage to “businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.” Although decisions to insure any business, including motorcycle clubs, are made on a case by case basis, State Farm says it has no general policy to deny coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.

The NCOC approached State Farm because of a letter dated February 27, 2017 from State Farm denying coverage to a Veteran’s motorcycle club because “we don’t provide coverage for businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.” State Farm’s original response was vague and avoided the explicit questions being asked by the NCOC, so the NCOC continued to press State Farm for clarification on its policy concerning motorcycle clubs.

The June 19, 2017 response from State Farm is, with one exception, clear and concise. There is still one question that has not been clarified. The original letter dated February 27, 2017 explicitly states that “we do not provide coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.” This statement in the February 27, 2017 letter is plainly stated and incontrovertible.

Clearly, according to the June 19th response, this is not State Farm policy any longer.

Did State Farm change this policy after the February 27th letter or was the February 27th letter an inaccurate statement of State Farm policy?

Regardless, State Farm is now explicitly embracing the MPP’s fight against profiling and discrimination as evidenced by the following:

June 19, 2017

The National Council of Clubs,

Thank you for reaching out to us regarding business insurance coverage. While we are not able to discuss the specifics of any particular application or customer’s policy information, due to our customer privacy policy, we would like to clear up any misunderstandings.

To be clear, it is not State Farm’s policy to deny coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs. We offer a variety of business insurance options to help small businesses succeed. However, as previously stated, for clubs and organizations seeking business insurance, including motorcycle clubs, we review each applicant’s eligibility individually. Some organizations may or may not be eligible for coverage. Again, we are not able to discuss the specifics of any particular application, however, we can tell you that it is not State Farm’s policy to deny coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.

Additionally, State Farm supports the motorcycle community, and offers individual motorcycle coverage for eligible vehicles licensed for use on public roads. For more information, please see our website.

We appreciate all you do along with other projects that aim to address profiling and discrimination. At State Farm, we’re committed to an inclusive environment where all our associates and customers are treated with respect and dignity, and differences are valued.

Sincerely,

Executive Customer Service Public Affairs

State Farm Insurance Companies

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Motorcycle Clubs Successfully Pressure State Farm to Change Policy?

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The MPP is pleased to report that the National Council of Clubs (NCOC) has successfully pressured State Farm Insurance to clarify that, as of June 19, 2017, it is no longer State Farm policy to deny coverage to “businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.” Although decisions to insure any business, including motorcycle clubs, are made on a case by case basis, State Farm says it has no general policy to deny coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.

The NCOC approached State Farm because of a letter dated February 27, 2017 from State Farm denying coverage to a Veteran’s motorcycle club because “we don’t provide coverage for businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.” State Farm’s original response was vague and avoided the explicit questions being asked by the NCOC, so the NCOC continued to press State Farm for clarification on its policy concerning motorcycle clubs.

The June 19, 2017 response from State Farm is, with one exception, clear and concise. There is still one question that has not been clarified. The original letter dated February 27, 2017 explicitly states that “we do not provide coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.” This statement in the February 27, 2017 letter is plainly stated and incontrovertible.

Clearly, according to the June 19th response, this is not State Farm policy any longer.

Did State Farm change this policy after the February 27th letter or was the February 27th letter an inaccurate statement of State Farm policy?

Regardless, State Farm is now explicitly embracing the MPP’s fight against profiling and discrimination as evidenced by the following:

June 19, 2017

The National Council of Clubs,

Thank you for reaching out to us regarding business insurance coverage. While we are not able to discuss the specifics of any particular application or customer’s policy information, due to our customer privacy policy, we would like to clear up any misunderstandings.

To be clear, it is not State Farm’s policy to deny coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs. We offer a variety of business insurance options to help small businesses succeed. However, as previously stated, for clubs and organizations seeking business insurance, including motorcycle clubs, we review each applicant’s eligibility individually. Some organizations may or may not be eligible for coverage. Again, we are not able to discuss the specifics of any particular application, however, we can tell you that it is not State Farm’s policy to deny coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs.

Additionally, State Farm supports the motorcycle community, and offers individual motorcycle coverage for eligible vehicles licensed for use on public roads. For more information, please see our website.

We appreciate all you do along with other projects that aim to address profiling and discrimination. At State Farm, we’re committed to an inclusive environment where all our associates and customers are treated with respect and dignity, and differences are valued.

Sincerely,

Executive Customer Service Public Affairs

State Farm Insurance Companies

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State Farm Responds to Outrage After Denying Coverage to Motorcycle Clubs

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The MPP recently reported that the National Council of Clubs (NCOC), a national rights organization representing the interests of motorcyclists and motorcycle clubs nationwide, recently obtained a copy of a letter from the State Farm Insurance Operations Center notifying a chapter of a Veterans motorcycle club that the insurance coverage on their property was being cancelled. The stated explanation for the policy cancellation was “we don’t provide coverage for businesses engaged in motorcycle clubs.

Although the NCOC received no direct response, the Arizona State Representative for the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, Dale “Animal” Dedrick, took initiative and contacted State Farm Insurance requesting an explanation. “What is the State Farm Insurance company policy relating to motorcycle clubs and their property?” Dedrick received the following response from State Farm on May 25th:

State Farm’s response is vague and never directly responds to the clearly stated policy made clear by State Farm’s original cancellation letter.

On May 25th the NCOC responded to the above letter which included the following:

“The May 25th response does not directly address the original question and core issues sufficiently.

The May 25th response says coverage for clubs is considered on an individual basis, but it is not clear if the statement of policy in the original letter dated February 27, 2017 is now being rejected by State Farm. Does State Farm have a policy “that denies coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs”?

If the blanket denial of coverage to businesses engaged with motorcycle clubs is no longer State Farm policy, what activities would disqualify an individual motorcycle club or motorcycle organization from receiving coverage from State Farm?”

The MPP will continue to follow and report on any information relating to State Farm’s policies related to motorcycle clubs.

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New Louisiana Law Exempts Motorcyclists From Anti-Masking Arrests

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Motorcyclists in Louisiana score a big win! Efforts of motorcycle rights advocates paid off when the Louisiana legislature approved a law exempting “persons driving or riding a motorcycle” from the state’s anti-masking statute. (See Louisiana State Legislature-HB161)

The Louisiana House passed HB 161 on a vote of 95-0 on June 5th, 2017 following a mass majority approval by the state Senate on May 30th, 2017. The legislation is on its way to the Governor’s desk.

The MPP reported in November of 2016, (See “Bikers Arrested for Wearing Bandanas”, November 29, 2016) following a trip to Louisiana as a guest speaker at a Louisiana

Confederation of Clubs and Independents (LCOC&I) meeting, that motorcyclists wearing legal helmets were being arrested for violating a state “Anti-Masking Law” originally intended to deter public acts of terror being committed by the KKK.

This obvious abuse of Louisiana statute was being used as a tool to profile and target motorcyclists, particularly in the Shreveport area.

The MPP provided a legislative proposal to Louisiana ABATE and the LCOC&I advocating an amendment to Louisiana’s anti-masking law exempting individuals wearing state approved safety gear while riding their motorcycles for the 2017 session.

Louisiana motorcyclists followed through and successfully lobbied their legislators proving that grassroots political rights movements can be effective and achieve results very quickly when mobilized and organized. The MPP congratulates and commends these efforts because they serve as an example and a model for other states attempting to combat motorcycle profiling and discrimination in all of its various forms.

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State Farm Insurance Says No Coverage For Motorcycle Clubs

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Letter from State Farm mentioning they do not provide coverage for business engaged in Motorcycle Clubs

The MPP received a copy of this letter from State Farm Insurance notifying a chapter of the Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club in Florida that the insurance coverage on their clubhouse was being cancelled. State Farm’s explanation for the policy cancellation is “we don’t provide coverage for businesses engaged in motorcycle clubs.” The MPP personally verified the incident in a face-to-face conversation with the individual that provided the letter to the MPP. He is a member of the chapter denied coverage.

Millions Could Be Denied Coverage?

Although there might be nothing technically illegal with State Farm’s actions because they are a private company, the blatantly discriminatory policy stands diametrically opposed to a the ideas of free expression and association and, in this instance, respect for the service of Veterans.

The Vietnam/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club extends coast to coast and has a massive membership. And to be balanced, if there were a specific or legitimate reason given why this particular club had their coverage cancelled then it may be understandable and motorcyclists would raise no objection. But the letter explicated a general policy of not providing “coverage for businesses engaged in motorcycle clubs.

The potential number of people impacted beyond this club is staggering. The AMA estimates that there are approximately 10 million registered motorcyclists in America, many of whom belong to motorcycle clubs. And the influence of Veterans on motorcycle club culture is generally accepted as common knowledge.

Beyond motorcycle clubs themselves, many of which are registered nonprofit entities, many businesses are “engaged” with motorcycle clubs. Consider the thousands of motorcycle repair and apparel shops that regularly engage in business with members of motorcycle clubs and their property. Motorcycle manufacturers as well. And the thousands of public accommodations, including bars and restaurants in all 50 states, that host motorcycle club charity events and engage in business with motorcycle clubs on a daily basis.

The National Council of Clubs Seeks Explanation from State Farm

How many of the 10 million motorcyclists or their supporters in America are insured by State Farm? How many would choose a different company if they were aware that State Farm would not cover the property of motorcycle club’s or businesses engaged in motorcycle clubs?

Recently, the National Council of Clubs, an organization representing the interests of motorcycle clubs and motorcyclists nationwide, wrote a letter requesting clarification of State Farm’s policy based on the cancellation notice given to the Legacy Vets MC. The NCOC believes that no motorcyclist or business that supports motorcyclists should engage in business with State Farm if they choose to stand by a general policy of denying coverage to businesses engaged in motorcycle clubs.

Here is the letter from the NCOC to State Farm addressing this issue:

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Government Threatening To Revoke Biker Bar Licenses Nationally

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) of Virginia recently sent 30 letters to bars and restaurants in the Central part of the state warning that their licenses could be revoked for allowing Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members to patronize their establishments.1 Although not directly demanding action in the form of “no motorcycle club colors” policies, that is the intended result of this coercion.

Government discrimination is illegal in any form. Wearing motorcycle club colors, including those labeled OMG’s by law enforcement, is protected by the 1st Amendment. Independently, coercing bar owners violates their constitutional right to pursue an occupation as established by case law.

Unfortunately, what’s happening in Virginia is a national epidemic occurring in states coast-to-coast. The unconstitutional practice of government agents coercing public establishments that serve club members must stop. The 1st and 14th Amendments demand it.

Law Enforcement Coercion Is A National Epidemic

According to the National Motorcycle Profiling Survey 2015-2016, an alarming 42% of survey participants reported knowing of a business being forced not serve club members. Forms of harassment and coercion includes excessive code enforcement violations, threatening denial or renewal of liquor license and or permits, and police harassment of customers and business owners.

Motorcycle Club Colors and the 1st Amendment

There is a fundamental friction between the idea that wearing motorcycle club colors is expressive conduct protected by the 1st Amendment and the idea that motorcycle club colors are gang colors that represent a threat to the public environment. The ABC in Virginia, like agencies across the country, justify pressuring bars to not allow members of motorcycle clubs labeled OMG’s to patronize their establishments based on a generalized gang stereotype or historical actions of other members.

Although maintaining a safe environment is definitely in the state’s interest, federal case precedent says that government restrictions on motorcycle club colors are unreasonable, and therefore unconstitutional, “absent a showing in the record of an actual (or realistic threat of) interference or disruption.” Any restrictions must be narrow and “specific to particular cases involving rival organizations.2

The government pressuring for a general access ban on persons wearing motorcycle club clothing (including clubs labeled OMG’s) would therefore be an unreasonable restriction on 1st Amendment expression.

Federal Case Precedent Specific To MC Colors

The longtime Supreme Court Precedent case Cohen v. California (1971) says individuals have the 1st Amendment right to wear clothing which displays writing or designs free from unreasonable government restrictions.3

This precedent has been specifically applied to motorcycle club colors, including those labeled OMG’s by law enforcement. In Sammartano v. First Judicial District Court (2002), 10 members of motorcycle clubs, including the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, were denied access to a courthouse in Carson City, Nevada based on the fact that they were wearing their club colors. They refused to remove their colors and were arrested for trespassing. The Court of Appeals concluded that this was unconstitutional because it violated their 1st Amendment rights to expression.4

Federal courts reject the general gang argument.

Police often assert that motorcycle club colors are gang attire and could cause a potential threat of violence and intimidation. But the Court finds these generalizations insufficient, concluding that “a total ban on this expressive activity…is “an unreasonable means” of preserving a safe environment.

Any restrictions must be narrow and specific “to particular (apparently hypothetical) cases involving rival organizations.” But a general ban on motorcycle club colors is unconstitutional “absent a showing in the record of actual (or realistic threat of) interference or disruption.”

General Restrictions Violate The Doctrine Of Personal Guilt

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).

To permit [law enforcement officers] to impose restrictions on any person “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.” 5

Coercion Infringes On A The Constitutional Right To Pursue An Occupation.

The implication of coercion goes beyond the 1st Amendment. The practice of law enforcement or other government actors, such as liquor control agents, harassing and threatening owners of public establishments because they allow motorcycle clubs to patronize their establishments is unconstitutional. The right to pursue an occupation is a fundamental liberty protected under the Due Process Clause. According to the Supreme Court, the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment protects a liberty or property interest in pursuing the “common occupations or professions of life.” 6 The constitutional right infringed in cases of excessive and unreasonable LE conduct is “the right to pursue an occupation.” 7

1 http://www.nbc29.com/story/35017372/virginia-abc-cracking-down-on-biker-bars-in-central-virginia

2 Sammartano v. First Judicial District Court, 303 F.3d 959 (9th Cir.2002)

3 See Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971)

4 Sammartano v. First Judicial District Court, 303 F.3d 959 (9th Cir.2002)

5 Coles v. Carlini 162 F.Supp.3d 380 (2015)

6 Schware v. Board of Bar Examiners, 353 U.S. 232, 238-39, 77 S.Ct. 752, 755-56, 1 L.Ed.2d 796 (1957); Chalmers City of Los Angeles, 762 F.2d 753, 757 (9th Cir.1985).

7 Benigni v. City of Hemet, 879 F.2d 473 (9th Cir. 1989)

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Video Proves FBI Uses Local Cops To Profile Bikers

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The Motorcycle Profiling Project (MPP) recently received a video capturing a typical motorcycle profiling stop that occurred in September 2016. One of the victims explained to the MPP that a group of Ft. Worth Gang Task Force officers in four vehicles conducted a stop on four motorcyclists wearing motorcycle club insignia. On video, a Ft. Worth officer admits that he has engaged in a pattern of profiling and stopping individuals based on their associations with motorcycle clubs in order to photograph and gather intelligence.

Although disturbing, motorcycle profiling stops are becoming more common, so this admission is not shocking. What is shocking is the explanation for why a policy of profiling exists in the first place.

On video, in response to one of the bikers commenting that they were good guys, a Ft. Worth officer says,

“Unfortunately, for you all at least, the FBI leaves it upon us to take pictures and make contact with everyone associated with. And even though y’all don’t claim 1%, y’all associate with 1%’ERS. So, we kinda gotta stop y’all every once in a while too, you know what I mean?”

Experts Confirm Federal Profiling Model

Is this officer’s statement true? At best, is this happening just in Ft. Worth? Just in Texas? Or is the FBI encouraging local PD’s everywhere to make contact with all 1%’ERS and associates through profiling stops in order to photograph and document the movements and associations of hundreds of thousands of people?

Dr. Will Dulaney is a biker’s rights activist, veteran with multiple deployments, and Associate Professor of National Security at a major military college. He has written about, testified, and consulted in both state and federal RICO and state gang enhancement cases for well over a decade. Dulaney analyzed the video and concludes that it serves as proof that a federal model of motorcycle profiling exists.

What the law enforcement officer acknowledges in the video is import because he establishes video-graphic evidence supporting the fact a federally controlled system of motorcycle profiling exists”, says Dulaney.

Dulaney argues, “In over a decade of sifting through discovery evidence and testifying in federal RICO and state gang-enhancement trials across the US a model of law enforcement behavior has emerged.

The model is simple: specific federal agents use various federal, state, and local police “motorcycle gang” task forces to profile members and friends of motorcycle clubs. The profiling ranges from pre-textual traffic stops intended to document identities and update gang crime databases to the systematic deprivation of civil rights; with violations of the 1st, 4th, and 14th Amendments being most prevalent.

Note: This model is being presented in a peer-reviewed paper to academics and policy makers this June during the annual meeting of the International Journal of Motorcycle Studies at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs.

Unconstitutional Profiling Demands Legislative Relief

Being a 1%’ER, or being associated with a 1%’ER, is not illegal nor does it rise to the level of reasonable suspicion justifying a stop under the 4th Amendment. Profiling stops also amount to Selective Enforcement of the law in violation of the 14th Amendment.

Motorcycle club insignia is also protected by the 1st Amendment and wearing colors is considered expressive conduct.

Evidence of such systemic profiling demands legislative relief at both the state and federal level. Being in a motorcycle club, even a 1% club, is not a justification for the wholesale violation of civil liberties represented by a systematic policy of profiling stops and intelligence gathering. Please contact your elected officials and request support for a law addressing the issue of motorcycle profiling.

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Colorado COC Updates by mobile phone

Now you can receive updates from the Colorado COC by mobile phone text message.

Information that you can receive by Text Message includes: Meeting Reminders, alert from the Colorado COC Board, and reminders about Special Meetings, and Events sponsored by the Confederation of Clubs.

If you belong to a Colorado COC member club, you can Click Here, to be added to our Text message list.