First Amendment

Published on April 23rd, 2016 | by David "Double D" Devereaux

18

Utah Police Want Bikers Out! Admit to Unconstitutional Harassment

There is a fundamental misunderstanding by many in law enforcement that membership in a motorcycle club is to be treated as probable cause that a crime is occurring.  This common misconception is perfectly demonstrated by public comments made by police in St. George, Utah relating to motorcycle clubs and the fact that they target them in order to discourage motorcycle clubs from riding their motorcycles in St. George. The arrogance of these statements proves a fundamental lack of understanding related to basic constitutional principles related to the 1st Amendment and the 4th Amendment. Utah motorcyclists should unify in an effort to pass legislation addressing the issue of motorcycle profiling and reduce the mentality currently exercised by the St. George PD.

 

Police Admit To Intentionally Profiling Motorcycle Clubs

 

Sgt. Williams of the SGPD made statements to ABC 4 Utah, admitting to targeting individuals because they are members of motorcycle clubs in order to discourage them from riding their motorcycles in St. George. Sgt. Williams makes a broad based assumption about members of motorcycle clubs and admits to targeting them in order to send a clear signal that police will not tolerate motorcycle clubs on the streets of St. George.

 

“The Bandido outlaw motorcycle club has a chapter in the city and law enforcement is doing everything it can to prevent more.”

 

“We’re kind of, best word I can think of is a shiny pearl to these clubs that they would want to get a foothold in St. George,” Sgt. David Williams said.

 

“Sgt. Williams says officers have been putting the heat on club members, citing them for minor violations.  “We try to make ourselves a hard target. That they don’t want to be here. They realize they are getting police attention, they know we are watching so they want to move on,” Sgt. Williams said.

 

(See St. George Police Targeting Motorcycle Gangs Aiming To Prevent Future Club Chapters, By Hailey Higgins, Good For Utah (ABC4 Utah), 04/21/2016)

 

St. George Police Intentionally Violate The 1st Amendment

 

The general policy of the SGPD, as described by Sgt. Williams, is to target individuals because they are members of motorcycle clubs. Obviously, club members are visible because they wear motorcycle club related paraphernalia. The stated goal is to discourage motorcycle club members from riding their motorcycles in St. George. The stated goal is to make club members “move on.”  The police admit they selectively target motorcycle club members so they “don’t want to be there.”

 

The SGPD must be taught that motorcycle clubs, including those clubs labeled organized or criminal gangs by authorities, are 1st Amendment protected associations. 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).

 

In fact, a source personally familiar with the Bandido membership in St. George reports to the MPP that none of the St. George chapter of Bandidos has a criminal record or history of criminal activity.  The SGPD admits that they specifically target individuals in this chapter for nothing more than being Bandidos. No individualized reasonable suspician or probable cause is considered.

 

To permit police “to object to any person on public roads 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)

 

 

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About the Author

David

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.


18 Responses to Utah Police Want Bikers Out! Admit to Unconstitutional Harassment

  1. Pingback: Utah Police Want Bikers Out! Admit to Unconstitutional Harassment – Oregon Confederation of Clubs

  2. We need to have a giant all clubs motorcycle party in that town and bring 1000’s of patch holders there for it, businesses would thrive and help convince the law to back off.

    • Avatar James Gragg says:

      Well, who is going to organize it? Dates, logistics and stuff? Who is going to send out the invites to every C.O.C. in the country? If it gets any serious traction, I will do the mailings of materials, SURE! That would be something to see, I would even ride my ol’ cripple butt out there from Kansas for that one!

  3. I’ve seen this over and over in St. George for the past few years. I’m not a biker, nor am I in any way affiliated with bike clubs. I am, however, a local bartender who has seen firsthand the harassment bikers experience at the hands of the SGPD. It’s truly appalling and I believe every citizen should be concerned because if they can do it to them, what’s to stop them from doing it to the rest of us?

  4. Avatar dave says:

    It seems to me, Our kind have not been wanted since the beginning. Nothing new to see here, except the willingness for us to fight back! Bikers everywhere are standing up for their rights in court, and winning! The days of club on club action if few and far between, proving once and for all that we are not the violent blood thirsty animals LEO has claimed we are, and our rights mean something! I call on all riders, from 1% to mom n pop, stand together, be one voice, let them know we wont take it any more!

  5. Avatar Tarrell says:

    This is nothing new for st George. In fact after Sgt. Williams put his name to it I expect he will get a promotion for some shit. Nothing will ever change untill you get rid of all the good ol boys and their cousins. I’m talking Marlin Stratton and all his relitives both blood and marriage.
    It’s time somthing was done with that corrupt department.

  6. Avatar St George BS says:

    The Utah State Legislature came out a few years ago and said MC’s have grown 300% in Utah and they were going to stop the growth of Clubs in Utah. That attitude has filtered all the way down to St George PD. The Gang task force has been openly harassing bikers. In Dec 2014, 11 bikers and 1 girl they “thought” was with the bikers were arrested and charged with 3rd degree felonies for a bar fight 4 months prior. The statewide news was given the story and the headlines described a “Biker Riot” where multiple MC’s were fighting and people were stabbed and sent to the hospital. Google motorcycle gang Riot, St George Utah.

    Out of the 12 arrested, all the statewide news coverage, one person put on the most wanted list and the chief of police telling the chamber of commerce, “The reason we don’t have gangs in St George is because my Task force is doing a good job.”. Not 1 person has gone to trial! Half of the charges have been dropped. Every biker that had been in the bar was arrested. Turns out some of them had left before the fight started. Some never came out of the bar and the fight was in the parking lot. It wasn’t even between bikers like the Police and News said at all. It looks like the investigation into this bar fight was from the start designed to simple be used to get news coverage and arrests of bikers.

    The court has already rulled that the clubs involved could not be called a ” Gang” by the prosecution and the task force. After over a year of delays there still have been no trials for the remaining club members. Seems after all the news attention and high-fives the police were giving each other they might not have the evidence they need for convictions. Looks like the police and News media might have gotten the story wrong.

    A lawsuit was filed last Oct by one of the bikers arrested and placed on the most wanted list. Gang task force members, the police, county and city have been sued. This lawsuit against SGPD and the city as well as the criminal cases are still ongoing.

    It is obvious after the ABC news report that this artical is based on came out, the SGPD and City of St George have not learned any lessons at all from this. They do not care about anyones rights or anyone that is not in line with how they believe someone should act and look like. Just watch that interview from ABC news in Utah. The Sargent spells it right out for all to see. That is the attitude of the PD in St George Utah. After a lawsuit has been filled!! Think of what it was prior.

    Pay attention. Things are going to heat up and bikers in Utah might need some support.

  7. Avatar Ken Davis says:

    Bikers do a lot of great things for a lot of charities, They are able to bring together and unite many people for good causes. Police never mention the good stuff.Enough said tlme to ride,hope I have a non harassing ride.Keep talking let people know.And thank for your support.

  8. Avatar Harold Burns says:

    The Federal Government and most local sheriff and police dept. have had it out for Bikers for as long as I remember. They could be doing other Police work than harassing patched clubs. We have a racial divide coming into this country and I personally think that is a bigger problem. You don’t hear about Bikers playing knock out games, shutting down freedom of speech venue’s, Racist marches by KKK members. I would think these are bigger problems…All that attention law enforcement gangs (popo) could be re-directed toward the Border problems and stopping illegals from entering this country so I have to pay for them. Just my thoughts.,,SPELL CHECK MAY HAVE NOT BEEN WORKING….

  9. Avatar Harold Burns says:

    Let’s have a 2nd destination rally Sturgis and St George…..

  10. Avatar norm says:

    No police have the right they think there badges give them and another point there a gang of blue too that think there above the law above nd better than me well I say fuck that I’m as good as above non of them PERIOD

  11. Pingback: Utah Police Want Bikers Out! Admit to Unconstitutional Harassment | Paisano Publications Blog

  12. Many motorcycle members are military veterans looking for that sence of belonging outside a structural military organization. They ride for freedom and to show their patriotism outside of the military.. I have seen a lot of motorcycle clubs to charity work.. Such as toys for tots, cancer victims medical bills, helping a brother or sister back on their feet. I have had many motorcycle club members sit on political panels to decide the best person to hold an elected seat. From sheriff and judges races to US Seantors. I trust their decision and welcome feedback from any motorcycle rider. We as a country need to stop profiling and stereotyping individuals because of a patch on their back and a motorcycle between their legs.

  13. Avatar ybmike says:

    I have experienced a lot of the tactics used by law enforcement when it come to profiling bikers, and as I’ve always said – It’s not the patch or colors that define the man, it’s his actions! I’m not saying everyone in a club is innocent of breaking the rules, but take a real hard look at the biggest gang in the United States, – LAW ENFORCEMENT AND THE MEDIA. ENOUGH SAID. I’ll always be 1%

  14. Pingback: Fight Against Motorcycle Profiling Showing Success in Utah - Motorcycle Profiling Project

  15. Pingback: Fight Against Motorcycle Profiling Showing Success in Utah – Oregon Confederation of Clubs

  16. Avatar Pyro says:

    I have ridin with myM C for 37yrs. In Canada and if ya wear a patch you can expect ta get fucked with sometimes they want us ta remove our helmets and glasses so they can update their photo albums,,if you don’t,your gonna get some tickets.

  17. Avatar Rhino Joe says:

    This type of Harassment has been going on from the late 50’s, on up to 2018, I can remember when you could not even wear a leather Jacket in the Bar, In Portland Oregon in the 70’s the bars were stopping patch holders from entering the bar, The club new the laws and continued to go to all these bar’s.The law was if the Bar called the Police three times, they could lose there License for being a Newsance! The club had there Attorney with them and was filming all this. What do you think Happened??, the Bars were told by the club we know that if you call the police three times you may lose your License. then the bar let them in!!!

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