Monthly Archives: November 2018

Jesse Ventura Body Slams US Attorney at Mongols MC Trial

By David “Double D” Devereaux

As the trial for the Mongols Motorcycle Club patch that began with jury selection on October 30th, 2018 continues, 1 the far-reaching implications cannot be overstated both in terms of potential impacts on motorcycle clubs in America, and the First Amendment to the US Constitution. A trial observer that wishes to remain anonymous has reached out to the Motorcycle Profiling Project to report that attorney Joseph Yanny is waging a vigorous defense on behalf of the club. Specifically, former Minnesota Governor and Mongols MC member Jesse Ventura, while on the stand for the defense on November 28th, 2 left US Attorney Welk “visibly annoyed, shifting in his chair, and fake-smiling with a beat red face,” states the observer.

Jesse Ventura Outclasses US Attorney Welk?

US Attorney Welk first asked former Governor and longtime Mongols member Jesse Ventura a question about the Constitution. “Mr. Ventura strongly and boldly responded: “I believe this trial is ridiculous because of the First Amendment.” Shocked, the US Attorney stumbled on a motion to strike the answer, and the judge denied it. The answer stood,” reports the trial observer.

Sounds like Mr. Ventura believes what most people with this case believe, and it sounds like he has a good grasp on 1st Amendment protected expression and association. And by the motion not being stricken, maybe this indicates that Judge Carter agrees?

“Trying to do damage control, the US Attorney asked a follow-up question about fairness by law enforcement, and Governor [Ventura] gave a brilliant and eloquent speech, using a clear example of tyranny from those officers that abuse their power. Everyone in the courtroom then sat reverently, pondering in silence while the US Attorney bustled to figure out how to change the subject. So powerful,” according to the trial observer.

And how did US Attorney Welk respond? According to the trial observer, “the US Attorney is now sitting red-faced, and looking like an embarrassed kid that was just spanked in front of his friends.”

Final Thoughts

We can now all only hope that the jury has the same perception. A former Governor, MC member, and WWE wrestler has the potential to be persuasive to a jury. But when he can also body slam the prosecutor off the turnbuckle intellectually as well, he has the potential to be a game changer.
Save The Patch!

1 Mercury News, Notorious Mongols Motorcycle Club fighting U.S. government to keep its vest patch, November 1, 2018

2 Redlands Daily Facts, Former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura defends Mongols Motorcycle Club in federal court in Orange County, November 28, 2018

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Texas Cops Harass Motorcycle Club Fundraiser for Veterans

By David “Double D” Devereaux

One of the long-term implications of the Waco biker massacre that occurred on May 17, 2015 is the continuing erosion of the rights base of motorcycle clubs in Texas. Over 3 years after 9 people were killed at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, and nearly 200 individuals were arrested and given $1-$2 million-dollar punitive bonds, charges have been dropped against all but 24 persons, and recent reports indicate the high likelihood that most of those will be dismissed as well.

Despite these dismissals, motorcycle clubs are still being profiled and harassed while participating in Constitutionally protected political and charitable gatherings. And at ground zero, members of motorcycle clubs in Texas have endured extensive harassment without cause.

Motorcycle clubs participating in an organization called the United Clubs of Waco (UCoW), recently attended a Copperas Cove City Council meeting to report to council members the extensive harassment and profiling that occurred at a recent charitable event to raise funds for Veterans sponsored by the UCoW. Charitable events are explicitly protected by the First Amendment to the US Constitution and actions impacting participation or participants in such events are prohibited. Violations also expose law enforcement, and in turn the state of Texas, to exorbitant civil liability claims, such as the hundreds of millions in claims currently pending related to Twin Peaks.

Legislative action prohibiting the practice of motorcycle profiling, particularly following the Twin Peaks incident, is an empirically a simple solution that reduces incidents of profiling with zero negative fiscal impact.

Police Harassment Negatively Impacts Veterans Charity

According to local news media reports, the chairman of the United Clubs of Waco, Frenchy Brea, was joined by more than 20 fellow motorcyclists on November 20th at the regularly scheduled Copperas Cove City Council meeting. 1

The Copperas Cove Silverbacks, one of the 70 clubs that belong to the United Clubs of Waco and the Killeen nonprofit We Leave No One Behind, reported to the council that the Copperas Cove Police Department had an over-the-top presence that dissuaded residents from attending a bike washing fundraiser in support of veterans Sept. 17 at the nightclub TrackSide on Joe’s Road off U.S. Business Highway 190.

The UCoW Chairman told the Copperas Cove City Council, mayor and interim city manager:

Your police department is attempting to profile, harass and intimidate motorcycle clubs,”

“Squad cars lined around the property, and eight police officers and several Department of Public Safety officers could be seen inside the club.”

“They staged their vehicles just off the property and created the appearance that something was going on at this establishment, causing several groups who were planning on attending this event to turn around. This, in turn, took money away from the fundraiser.”

Veteran’s Charity Echoes Claims of Motorcycle Profiling

James “Righteous” Norwood, president of We Leave No One Behind, confirmed many of the UCoW’s claims. We Leave No One Behind works with local police to connect veterans in crisis to mental health resources. Norwood, an active-duty major in the Army, reports:

“There were things that were done and decisions that were made that negatively affected the motorcycle club’s ability to sponsor our charity.”

“We provide person-to-person contact continually … the prejudice that was used against the individuals in the motorcycle club, who were doing something to benefit the community on a whole — is that a good thing to do? Should we allow preconceptions to affect our decision-making process?”

Charitable Events Constitutionally Protected

The actions of the Copperas Cove Police Department are in violation of the basic principles of the First Amendment. Charitable events are considered expressive conduct. If, as alleged, police intimidation chilled participation in a charitable fundraiser for Veterans, then a violation of the First Amendment has occurred.

Supreme Court precedent clearly establishes that charitable appeals for funds…are within the protection of the First Amendment.”2 Sponsoring and supporting charitable community events, like the solicitation of funds, “is characteristically intertwined with informative and perhaps persuasive speech seeking support for particular causes or for particular views on economic, political, or social issues.” Id.

When motorcyclists are harassed while involved in a charitable fundraising event federal courts have said that “a reasonable jury could find that they were entitled to some constitutional protection based on the specific activity they were engaged in,” and an individual’s association with a motorcycle club “for that purpose was also protected by the First Amendment.” 3

The Need for Legislative Protection

The harassment being experienced by members of the UCoW is a microcosm of the larger motorcycle profiling epidemic enveloping nearly the entire state of Texas. Independent of the victims being damaged by civil liberty violations, these incidents also expose law enforcement and government entities to massive financial liability. Statistics validate the epidemic. The National Motorcycle Profiling Survey 2017 further exposes widespread targeting of charitable and political events.

Fortunately, a simple and cost-free legislative solution exists. Washington State, the first state to adopt legislation against the practice, is the only state in America that has recorded a reduction in motorcycle profiling incidents since 2012. 4 An explicit prohibition against motorcycle profiling combined with a mechanism of relief for victims of profiling would substantially reduce these incidents from occurring in the first place.

Sources and Citations

1 kdhnews.com, Bike club, nonprofit say Cove police hurt fundraiser for veterans, November 25, 2018

2 Vill. of Schaumburg v. Citizens for a Better Env’t, 444 U.S. 620, 632, 100 S.Ct. 826, 63 L.Ed.2d 73
(1980)

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

4 see MPP’s National Motorcycle Profiling Surveys 2016, 2017, & 2018

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Pagans Charges Dropped After Video Shows Excessive Force

By David “Double D” Devereaux

The National Council Of Clubs (NCOC), dedicated to defending the political, legislative and legal interests of motorcyclists across America, joins those voicing disgust with the videotaped actions of undercover and uniformed Pittsburgh Police officers inside Kopy’s bar on October 12th, 2018, which resulted in the arrests of Pagans Motorcycle Club members Frank Deluca, 36; Michael Zokaites, 38; Erik Heitzenrater, 28; and Bruce Thomas, 61. Video released by numerous news outlets shows officers brutally beating one of these members well past the point of being subdued before being arrested and charged with aggravated assault, conspiracy and riot as a result of the fight1. On November 14th, all charges were dropped against all four defendants. Furthermore, the FBI announced an on-going investigation into the incident.2

In the short-term, the officers involved should have their employment terminated and all officers involved should be held civilly and criminally liable. In the long-term, legislative solutions prohibiting discrimination and profiling would protect against civil liberty violations, and therefore exposure to civil liability, by reducing the probability of such incidents occurring in the first place.

The NCOC also supports the bar owner’s constitutional right to pursue an occupation, which was infringed by officers when the owner was told that he must ban motorcycle club colors in his bar following the brawl. Agents of the government such as law enforcement officers are also constitutionally prohibited from coercing or pressuring a private establishment to discriminate.

A Story of Excessive Force

There are differing accounts of what started the brawl. The bar owner, for example, reports that the police were the agitators and aggressors. But regardless of what started the fight, punching a completely defenseless Frank Deluca in the head and face 23 times while his arms were being held and his hair pulled back, as irrefutably shown in video, is unconstitutional use of excessive force even if there was probable cause for an arrest, which, according to defense attorneys, eyewitness accounts to local news media, and the recent dismissals, is highly improbable.

“Without a doubt, the most controversial issue in American policing is the use of force by police officers. On too many occasions, we have seen newspaper headlines reporting that an individual has been brutalized or, worse yet, killed by the police. The consequences of excessive and deadly force have been severe, affecting both police organizations and the communities they serve.” 3 The events of October 12th are a perfect demonstration.

Equal Access and Threatening Kopy’s

Independent of the excessive force issues, the Pittsburgh undercover officers involved continued their streak of constitutional violations after the beatings and arrests. As published by Channel 11 News/WPXL on October 24th, 2018:

The owner of Kopy’s, who was doused with pepper spray, said after the fight, a police lieutenant blamed him.

“The lieutenant stated that this was my fault for letting them in with jackets. I responded the bikers did not cause the fight, and the lieutenant began screaming to me about the bikers being dangerous and referenced that they had guns and that someone could have been shot or killed.”

The owner said the lieutenant also told him to post a dress code and that he doesn’t want to see any bikers in his bar.

It is settled law that agents of the government are barred from acts of discrimination. Wearing motorcycle club colors expressing associations falls “squarely within the protective umbrella of the First Amendment…any action to punish or deter such speech…is categorically prohibited by the Constitution.” 4

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.” See 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 v. City of Los Angeles, 762 F.2d 753, 757 (9th Cir.1985). The constitutional right infringed in cases of excessive and unreasonable police conduct, like demands that a private establishment prohibit motorcycle club colors, is “the right to pursue an occupation.” Benigni v. City of Hemet, 879 F.2d 473 (9th Cir. 1989)

What Should Be Done?

The actions of the officers at Kopy’s bar were simply egregious and inexcusable. Aside from the direct harm caused by their conduct, these officers have exposed the department, government, and taxpayers to huge civil liability damage for irrefutable violations of the constitution.

In the short-term, the NCOC believes that all officers involved should ultimately have their employment terminated when allegations of excessive force or coercion are confirmed through investigation and due process. The NCOC supports the efforts of those violated to pursue relief through civil rights claims.

Longer-term, the NCOC believes that legislative solutions to address the issue of motorcycle profiling, combined with basic training and education related to current constitutional prohibitions against government discrimination, would reduce similar incidents of profiling and discrimination going forward.

Incident Again Proves Video Evidence is Key

This incident is further confirmation that video is the best weapon available in the fight against motorcycle profiling and discrimination. Without video, law enforcement’s version of events would likely go unchecked and 4 individuals would still be facing aggravated assault and riot charges.

Indeed, video has been the key factor in many motorcycle profiling successes. Video is incontrovertible in many cases. In Washington State, video of state troopers crawling through the bushes on the grounds of the Capitol during biker day at the Capitol convinced legislators that motorcycle profiling had followed us to the very steps of the Capitol. In Maryland, the other state with a law addressing the issue, video obtained through a public information request proved that the state police participated in a mass profiling stop, despite complete denial.

Video is often critical in individual incidents of profiling as well. In Kansas City, an off duty officer moonlighting as a security guard was caught threatening a 1% club member with arrest for trespassing because the Quick Trip didn’t allow 1%’ers on their property. Video of the incident led to the officers termination from both Quick Trip and the KCPD.

Video capability is everywhere. And the First Amendment absolutely protects your right to video record law enforcement in public as long as one does not interfere with officers legally carrying out their duties. Seeing is believing for most people. And video preserves an incident fo all to see.

Help Fight Profiling in PA and Across America

What can an individual immediately do to help fight motorcycle profiling in Pennsylvania and across America? Participate in the National Motorcycle Profiling Survey 2018, which helps the fight against motorcycle profiling! It only takes a few minutes to impact legislation nationwide!

http://www.motorcycleprofilingproject.com/national-motorcycle-profling-survey/

sources


1
http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2018/11/05/What-led-to-Pittsburgh-police-Pagans-brawl-Stephen-Zappala-is-right-to-criticize-police-obfuscation/stories/201811050017

2https://triblive.com/local/allegheny/14292696-74/charges-dropped-against-pagans-in-bar-brawl-with- undercover-cops

3 (See Patrick Reynolds, Asst. Director-Scool of Criminal Justice, FDU Magazine Online, Summer/Fall 2006)

4 Duran v. City of Douglas, 904 F.2d 1372, 1378 (9th Cir. 1990); Skoog, 469 F.3d at 1232 (retaliatory search and seizure)

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