First Amendment

Published on January 3rd, 2016 | by David "Double D" Devereaux

10

Police are Even Targeting Motorcycle Clubs Committed to Child Welfare

Discrimination against motorcycle clubs is well documented and irrefutable.  Incidents of criminal activity are sensationalized and used to mischaracterize an entire class of people based on stereotype and appearance. It seems that no motorcycle club is immune. Not even those dedicated to the service and protection of abused children. Indeed, from Waco to New Mexico motorcycle organizations dedicated to the protection of children have been the victim of motorcycle discrimination and denied basic civil liberties solely because of expressing their associations.

 

In New Mexico, the Guardians of Children were denied entrance into the Bernalillo County Courthouse unless they turned inside out or removed anything expressing association with motorcycle affiliation.

 

In Waco, a member of the Grim Guardians was targeted and arrested for no other reason than their association with a motorcycle club. The Huffington Post reported December 13th that Patrick Jim Harris “is a proud member of the Grim Guardian’s Motorcycle Club, an M.C. whose associates include active clergymen. His club’s mission is to serve abused and foster children.”

 

So far, not exactly the picture of a classic organized criminal, right? So how did Patrick, along with close to 200 innocent bikers, get caught-up in this nightmare?

 

In Patrick’s situation, here’s what occurred: Arriving at Twin Peaks to attend the meeting, he was swept-up in the mass arrest. Eventually, along with several others, he was released on bond.

 

These individuals committed no crimes and are dedicated community servants.

 

Law enforcement decisions should be based on behavior, not appearance. Agents of the government, particularly law enforcement, are prohibited from targeting or discriminating against individuals based on appearance. All motorcycle clubs should be free from discrimination. The absurdity of treating those dedicated to protecting abused kids like criminals magnifies exactly why.

 

There is a long list of federal and Supreme Court precedent establishing 1st Amendment protection for motorcycle club associations and colors against government discrimination.

 

 

  • The Supreme Court says that individuals have the 1st Amendment right to wear clothing which displays writing or designs. In 1971, the Supreme Court concluded that a shirt reading “F*#K THE DRAFT was protected expression. See Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).

 

  • The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals says that wearing of motorcycle club colors in a courthouse building is protected speech under the First Amendment, and gang labeling does not overwhelm this right. See Sammartano v. First Judicial District Court, 303 F.3d 959 (9th Cir.2002).

 

  • A recent federal decision agrees. “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)

 

 

These incidents demonstrate how the outlaw biker stereotype is so overly-broad that it encompasses almost all motorcycle clubs, even those dedicated to protecting the abused or neglected.  Things have gone too far when a group called The Guardians of the Children, a non profit organization of child advocates comprised of motorcyclists, are denied access to the courthouse unless they remove their motorcycle jackets. These are not gang members, they’re community servants.

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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.


10 Responses to Police are Even Targeting Motorcycle Clubs Committed to Child Welfare

  1. Avatar Queen of Hearts says:

    I can tell you that I personally was made to leave a courthouse because I was intimating. I was a member of Warriors for the Children. I was there from the request of a mother and a 10 year old little girl. Another time police made us leave when custodial parents went to pick up a child from a drug dealer when biological mother abandoned her son at the house.

  2. Avatar Armyveteran says:

    So, lawsuits or whine about it?

    • Thanks for asking.

      The MPP mission can be found here https://www.motorcycleprofilingproject.com/about/

      There are many ways we can combat this and other discriminatory issues that motorcyclists face.

      We have found that legislative relief is the most effective at prevention. Though lawsuits are good reactionary measures, they sometimes do little in the way of prevention.

      Colt.

      • Avatar Mike says:

        My curiosity begs to ask… How does it help to keep complaining about the behavior of the James Gang… to Frank & Jessie?

        • Colt Colt says:

          Mike,

          Legislators are elected officials, meaning they answer to the people. Law enforcement officials are more often than not hired. The legislature controls the laws and the budget that LE must operate within. So we do not view Governmental bodies as “Frank & Jessie” but rather the Banks/Trains or the group that designs Security for the Banks/Trains that ultimately control how the James Gang operate (to continue with the figurative metaphor).

          “You can’t fight city hall” is VERY true….but WE CAN fight city hall. Grassroots Manpower works, we just need to stand unified and the legislature listens. Changing the law is the only weapon we have to fight discrimination, because ignoring hasn’t worked and literally fighting it certainly won’t. Changing the laws that LE must operate within to ensure our rights as a community works, it has been and IS being done successfully.

          We get that question a lot, but trust me and the thousands of others who are active in the rights movement, it works.

          Thanks for reading.

          Colt.

  3. Avatar Jim Stimmel (gator) says:

    I don’t waer calors or a member of any cub I just like to ride an I have been asked to remove my vet when in court house I have a patch at says support your troops in honor of my neffew

  4. Avatar George Fischer says:

    We must not be afraid to file suite to stop this and all types of harassment. If enough suites are filed, they will find that we are serious.

  5. Avatar Kilroy says:

    Sometimes they are asked to remove their vests and anything motorcycle related so that the defense lawyer(s) can’t try to use that as an excuse for a mistrial. Why take the chance for a mistrial and make the child have to go through everything again.

    • Colt Colt says:

      Out of curiosity, on what grounds would the defense call for a mistrial because of the 1st amendment protected clothing of an attendee at a hearing?

      Colt LMC

  6. Avatar Stevo says:

    Are they targeting LAW ENFORCEMENT motorcycle clubs.

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