The epidemic of motorcycle profiling in Idaho is not a brand new phenomenon. Recent accounts from Pocatello to Nampa are only the newest examples. There has been a long history of motorcycle clubs being selectively targeted for abusive military-style search and seizures for no reason other than membership in a motorcycle club. The following incident involving the Mongols MC demonstrates the blatantly abusive and discriminatory mindset of many in law enforcement regarding motorcycle clubs. It is essential that the irrefutable pattern of evidence be presented to legislators urging adoption of a law addressing the epidemic of motorcycle profiling in the state.
The Mongols MC Pack Was Pulled Over Merely For Riding in Idaho
The Motorcycle Profiling Project received the following account from a member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club relating to an egregious incident of profiling that occurred in 2011. A swarm of FBI and other law enforcement agents descended upon a pack of 20+ motorcycles and conducted a 2 hour felony stop at the point of an AR-15. The entire group was treated as if they were violent criminals with absolutely no just cause. Many were placed in handcuffs and every individual was searched without consent. Blatantly unconstitutional.
What reason was given for the stop? Officers said the pack was stopped because they had never seen Mongols MC in Idaho before. That is not probable cause or reasonable suspicion of criminal or violent behavior. Although a speeding pretext was ultimately used to justify the stop, the highly discriminatory and military-style operation was clearly not motivated by traffic enforcement. And even if it were, 2 hours is far beyond the reasonable duration required for reasonableness under the 4th Amendment.
2 Hours on the Side of the Road, At the End of Assault Rifles…for Wearing a Patch
There should be grave concerns about traffic stops conducted with AR-15’s. Motorcycle clubs, including the Mongols MC, are 1st Amendment protected associations.
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) (See Coles v. Carlini, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Civil No. 10-6132, Opinion, 9/30/2015, p.28)
As the documented cases and history of motorcycle profiling continues to proliferate the time for legislative relief becomes more urgent. The pattern of profiling is undeniable. Motorcycle clubs are 1st Amendment protected associations and membership in a motorcycle club should not mean being subjected to unconstitutional law enforcement tactics. From a public policy perspective such gross mismanagement of public resources cannot be tolerated. The solution is simple and achievable. A law addressing the issue of motorcycle profiling is an empirically proven policy that reduces incidents of abuse at virtually no cost. The time to act is now.