Following a recent MPP article exposing the state liquor control agency targeting JD’s Tap House in western Pennsylvania, the local news media followed up on the story of this biker bar targeted for closure. In response to evidenced claims of motorcycle profiling and selective enforcement advanced by the ownership to Erie News Now, Liquor Control Enforcement and Township Supervisors had no response and remain silent. They say silence speaks volumes. The LCE is clearly infringing on the owners fundamental right to pursue an occupation in violation of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Erie News Now Reports Biker Bar targeted for closure as a result of motorcycle profiling and LCE harassment.
Erie News Now reported on December 28th that local bar owner Michelle Perrine says her business, JD’s Tap House, “is being targeted for closure because most of her patrons are bikers.” A noise complaint from one person has been enough for State Police’s LCE to “threaten closure.” Erie News Now reports that this resident has stated, “Bikers do not belong in this neighborhood.” No other neighbors have complained and police have never been called to the bar for any disturbance.
Despite the highly prejudicial source of the complaints, Township Supervisor Michael Jordan sided with this single resident, Perrine says. After paying a $100 fine to resolve frivolous criminal charges resulting from this single source, Jordan and the LCE are threatening Perrine with revocation of her license because she payed a fine therefore admitting to being guilty of a crime.
During a recent Township Supervisors meeting relating to the complaints, a supervisor suggests that the reason there has only been one complainant might be due to the fact that people may be scared to step forward and complain about bikers. This very suggestion is based on a discriminatory stereotype.
Remember, as previously reported to the MPP, Perrine has also articulated an incident where an LCE officer directly threatened her and her children. Escalating threats to close her business following her ethics inquiries to authorities concerning this LCE officer’s threats. Perrine says she has also been threatened with being charged for making terrorist threats if she approaches any neighbors to discuss a resolution of issues.
LCE and Township Supervisors have offered no explanation or defense for the obvious targeting of JD’s Tap House. Erie News Now reported than neither Jordan or the LCE were available for comment. Absolutely no accountability or explanation is being provided by government officials and employees in the face of direct claims of discrimination being made by a damaged owner.
LCE Harassment Infringes On A Bar Owners Constitutional Right To Pursue An Occupation
It seems clear that Michelle Perrine’s fundamental right to pursue an occupation is being infringed upon. JD’s Tap House has told the MPP that it estimates that it has lost 39% of its revenue due to the LCE’s campaign of harassment. More directly, the recent notice that Perrine’s license may be revoked as a result of pleading no contest to criminal charges stemming from noise complaints is a clear indication of the state’s intent.
“The due process clause protects a liberty or property interest in pursuing the “common occupations or professions of life.” Attempts to shut an establishment down through harassment impact an individual’s ability to make a living. “The constitutional right infringed in these cases “is the right to pursue an occupation.” (see Benigni v. City of Hemet, No. 87-5622, United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, August 15, 1988)
Civil liability exposure justifies legislative relief
The LCE is a division of the State Police and are operating under the color of state law. 42 USC 1983, referred to as Section 1983, provides a mechanism for relief for victims deprived of their fundamental liberties by state actors. The civil liability exposure created as a result of discriminatory state actors provides more than enough justification for the simple and cost-efficient legislation addressing the issue of motorcycle profiling currently pending in the Pennsylvania state legislature.
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