Published on October 5th, 2016 | by David "Double D" Devereaux


Police and 1% Motorcycle Clubs – Don’t Believe the Hype

Being in a motorcycle club is not illegal. Law enforcement action should be based on behavior, not appearance. So being in a motorcycle club should not influence law enforcement’s decision to take action against a person. Despite this, however, there is a common misconception that being a member of a 1% motorcycle club is a self-admission of criminality. Many in law enforcement and some prosecutors label all members of 1% clubs gang members, and the media is all too willing to perpetuate a sensationalized perspective.


Maybe even more troubling, the stereotype is so powerful that even other bikers are susceptible. The truth is that many are wary of clubs and many buy into the sensationalized hype and stereotypes, particularly about 1%’ers. But through education regarding the 1st Amendment maybe these perceptions can be overcome in favor of reality.  Then the real work of protecting bikers can be more effectively achieved.


Do Independent Bikers Stereotype 1%’ers as Criminals?


Not all independents believe the hype. But the fact remains, many do.  A perfect example of this perception became evident to me at the recent “Meeting of The Minds” event hosted by the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, this year held in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, June 22-25. The theme this year was “Bridging The Gap” in the motorcycle rights movement among all of the different organizations and elements of the motorcycling community that have common political, legislative and legal interests. And the issue that is beginning to galvanize the unification process is motorcycle profiling.


One of the primary gaps to be bridged is between independent bikers and motorcycle club members, often called “Patch Holders”. Although it is becoming more common for independents and patch holders to work together on legislative goals in some areas of the country, in many places there is still resistance.


At the end of a panel I was participating in titled “Bridging The Gap”, an independent raised his hand and said he had to ask the obvious question. What about 1%’ers being gangs and being involved in criminal activity?


It was the perfect opportunity to explain how that perception violates the fundamental principles of association and expression enshrined in the 1st Amendment. It was an opportunity to educate.


Why Membership In A 1% MC is Constitutionally Protected


The United States of America is intended to be a free society. Essential to that freedom is the idea that people should be able to associate with whomever they choose and express that association or other political views. The reality is that not all views or associations are very popular either with government entities or other people. This is particularly true with many political views.


What about organizations or clubs that have had members convicted of crimes, including acts of violence? Well, the Supreme Court says that an individual’s association with an organization that has members that have committed acts of violence or other crimes is protected by the 1st Amendment, and that no restrictions may be imposed on any person that associates with such a group absent specific evidence that they intend to participate in the criminal activity of other members.


What Do The Courts Say?


Recently a federal court concluded:



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.


  • (See Coles v. Carlini, U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, Civil No. 10-6132, Opinion, 9/30/2015, p.28)



What Does Basic Logic And Reality Say?


According to government estimates, there are approximately 44,000 members of motorcycle clubs that the government labels gangs or criminal organizations.  It’s  absurd to suggest that they are all criminals or gang members. The statistical data simply disproves the claim. The courts understand that the purpose of motorcycle clubs, including 1% clubs, is brotherhood centered around motorcycling. Law enforcement refuses to recognize the truth.


Law enforcement says anything positive 1% clubs do is intended as a smokescreen for illegal activity. This fundamental misperception ignores one of the most important functions of the motorcycle club community. Charity and social activism are a driving force of the biking and club community. Every 1% club has fundraisers and benefits for Veterans,  Cancer  victims,  toys  runs  for  children,  and  to  benefit  motorcycle accident victims in the community. This is not a smokescreen. It is genuine and tangible activism.


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About the Author


is the Spokesperson for the Washington State Council of Clubs, Founder of the Motorcycle Profiling Project, and works with motorcyclists at the national level. Contact: Send Email,

DISCLAIMER: Although comments are encouraged and appreciated, not all comments will be posted by Motorcycle Profiling Project LLC. The Motorcycle Profiling Project LLC appreciates oppositional viewpoints but will not post any comments that do not contribute to a respectful and meaningful discussion or are blatantly discriminatory or otherwise offensive. Resubmissions will be considered at the commenter's request.

20 Responses to Police and 1% Motorcycle Clubs – Don’t Believe the Hype

  1. Avatar Jim Hamilton says:

    Great to have heard the message you delivered at MOTM. Also enjoyed the breakout sessions. Never been in a club. I believe it’s going to be important work moving ahead to remedy the assumptions and misperceptions many independents have. We all share a common goal; a free and unrestricted motorcycling environment.

  2. Pingback: Police and 1% Motorcycle Clubs – Don’t Believe the Hype – Oregon Confederation of Clubs

  3. Avatar Mac says:

    What is the betting that more crimes are committed by none motorcycle club members than members. Therefore by any government or organisation criteria they should be targeting non motorcycle club members. To target 1%’s makes those organisations look somewhat foolish and I would imagine illegal. A few bad apples doesn’t mean the whole crop is bad.

  4. Avatar Lompico Lyle says:

    Keep up the good fight Double D.

    Founder Ghost Mountain Riders MC
    Former Chairman, Monterey Bay COC

  5. Avatar Amy Hale says:

    That’s true about the 1% have to realize that, they are brother, husband, uncle just like cops or any other people who ride motorcycle. Some don’t have criminals.. But if they do they trying to do the things for charity. Cancer, children and so on. The police try to say that they are gangs but no one see the good of what they do.

  6. Avatar Retread says:

    If we cast a blanket over an organization because their members have conducted criminal activities or been convicted of the same, shouldn’t we profile Congress, most Police Departments and all State and Local Politicians?

  7. Avatar E.C.Sarge Nelson says:

    Thank you yhis is very good education for all of the I% originations.and Bikers .

  8. Avatar Will says:

    Everybody needs to read this ! As a member of a an MC not a 1% , we’re also looked at like we’re up to no good . But in fact we’re just out getting sum wind therapy. Thank you and God bless u all . CALAVERA ROADRUNNER

  9. Avatar Larry says:

    Double D:
    Brother keep up the good work!!
    This work has to be successful or ALL Motorcycle Clubs, will soon cease to excises.

  10. Avatar James says:

    Great Article.
    Thank you,
    James Carter,
    Kentucky Biker Association
    (Lifetime Member)

  11. Pingback: Police and 1% Motorcycle Clubs – Don’t Believe the Hype - Speed and Engines

  12. Excerpt from article:
    “At the end of a panel I was participating in titled “Bridging The Gap”, an independent raised his hand & said he had to ask the obvious question. What about 1%’ers being gangs & being involved in criminal activity? It was the perfect opportunity to explain how that perception violates the fundamental principles of association & expression enshrined in the 1st Amendment. It was an opportunity to educate”.

    I really like your Attitude with this line:
    “It was an opportunity to educate”.

    Thank You,
    Mike BBB Newsletter Editor

  13. Avatar Troy says:

    So let assume that we should target an entire club, organization, entity, or group by profiling them all by the actions of a few. So let’s see how many would survive the cut. Congress? Law Enforcement? Churches/religious groups?medical Industry? Insurance Company’s? Judiciary? I could go on typing news or titles all night and yet not one single one could one could pass. So the steriotyping all for the actions of few is not only ilegall, it is also idiotic in nature. I hope that all can see the clear and simple example I just gave here to prove that just because your cousin robbed a store doesn’t mean you are guilty as well because of affiliation by your last name.

    • Avatar J Wright says:

      Love this. I say all the time, should we arrest the pope and all priest when we find out one of theirs has molslested a child? Great points made-Thank you!

  14. Avatar legal eagle says:

    This putting al the eggs in one basket is fraudulent at best, but let’s reverse engineer it and assume that if there are a few “bad eggs” in a group then that group is automatically a criminal syndicate. This is the exact way that police and certain corrupt politicians view bikers.

    Ok, what about the police ? How many cases of corruption, murder, rape, theft ect have to be exposed among police (not counting the plethora that are covered up internally) before the same rule is applied to them?

    So, if 1% are ALL criminals and part of a criminal empire because certain members engage in illegal activities then logic demands that police be labelled a criminal syndicate part of a sinister empire of criminal activity.

    They can’t have it both ways; sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander. Whatever rule applies to one must therefore apply to the other. Or they could just stop reading the book by looking at it’s cover.

  15. Thanks! In europe, same shit happening. Raids in clubmembers houses, just for the raid. Destruction property, frightened kids. Trying hard to discourage members and prospect, even Hangarounds. This is a worldwide hunt for Bikers. Club Vesta are forbidden, we may nit sit on a terrace or eat in restaurants with our cuts on. And the struggle gets harder. We will not be denkend our rights, our somstitutional rights to be free.

  16. Avatar Angela Westbrook says:

    The bike clubs 1% or not is a minority culture and should receive all the support and freedoms that are given to other minority cultures the gang taskforce here in Lyon County Nevada are AWFULL with there profiling to the point of endangering life’s for no other reason than the household has a club member living in it I prey David Deveraoux gets his ass to Reno and shows that COC what needs to be done here to get a no profiling bill passed in Nevada while I he COC has a lawyer that has threatened the Lyon county gang task force with seece and disist orders the copes stay away after the threat only for long enough the process to time out so to speak and then back to trespassing and threatening behaviors the cops go. It almost seems pointless to every 3 months complain about the same gang task force unit and officer at the same address each time more escalation each time same outcome anyway enough of that thanks for all of the educating you do on this particular subject.

  17. Avatar just a 1%er says:

    It is real bad when the feds an the cops infiltrate clubs an start shit that the clubs are not doing an drag some members into the bull shit an then turn around a bust them for the shit they start. It is not right for them to do that or say they are another club an there coming to town to see that we have a blast at one of our big partys. Well people have there btlrothers an there olady an kids there an your going to be on you toes to protect yours at all costs. Them bust you for protecting them . Sure there are people who do not care about other people because they have a 1% patch on the cuts an tell them that there are 50 or so of them coming to town to make sure that we have a blast at our party. How would you read that message?

  18. Avatar Steve says:

    More crimes are committed by law enforcement officers nationally than any and all groups put together and in most cases there are no repercussions to the offending officers and the criminals are able to go on murdering, robbing, and committing heinous crimes with impunity, they target motorcycle clubs because it’s easy to gain traction and public support from inaccurate depictions of media accounts and portrayals… do a national survey and an account of crimes committed by police officers vs. motorcycle clubs and you’ll see the reality of what’s really going on… police criminality is staggering… and rarely held accountable.

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