January 5, 2018
National Council of Clubs
Re: LE statements following Outlaws MC Paul Anderson killing.
Contact: David Devereaux-Spokesperson
The National Council of Clubs, an organization dedicated to protecting the political, legal and legislative interests of motorcyclists nationwide, is very concerned that law enforcement is using the tragic murder of Outlaw Motorcycle Club member Paul Anderson near Tampa Bay on December 21st to dangerously propagate unnecessary fear and bias against all motorcycle clubs and bikers. Law enforcement is using the local news media to imply that Paul was a deserving criminal and to report that outlaw motorcycle clubs nationwide are headed to Florida for retaliation. More than being highly inaccurate sensationalism, such fear-driven propaganda creates very real risks to the civil liberties and safety of innocent motorcyclists in Florida.
After three suspects were arrested within 24 hours of Paul’s murder, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco conducted a press conference covered in the local news media. (See Video Here) Nocco was completely dismissive of Paul as a person because he was a member of the Outlaws MC. The fact that he was an innocent victim was never reported. Instead, Nocco, when discussing Paul, said “bad things happen to bad people.” There was not a single mention of his decorated military service or of his surviving family. The truth about Paul would not fit Nocco’s false narrative of fear.
“…bad things happen to bad people.”
– Sheriff Chris Nocco
The murder of Paul Anderson is a travesty. He was an innocent and valuable human being and his memory does not deserve to be desecrated. The truth is that he was a hero and a loved son and brother. According to his Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, Paul had a distinguished military career and served in the U.S. Army as a Sergeant who was both Army Ranger and Sniper qualified. His decorations and awards include the Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Expert Infantryman’s Badge, Master Parachutist’s Badge, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal (2nd award), Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Good Conduct Medal (2nd award) to name a few. Paul was Honorably discharged after 6 years of service to our country and pursued a professional contracting career. Paul is survived by his mother, his sister, and many club brothers. He wasn’t married and had no children. Paul will be laid to rest next to his brother who was previously killed while also serving in the armed forces.
The truth is that Paul Anderson was a hero and a loved son and brother.
Instead of the truth, Nocco chose to use this tragedy to spread fear among the general public and other law enforcement agencies. Nocco says that motorcycle clubs are no different than the Italian mafia, that there are tens of thousands of members. He falsely claims that motorcycle club members are coming into Florida from across America to retaliate.
Further, Nocco urged the public to call police to report any sightings of motorcyclists with out of state tags or motorcyclists riding in a pack with club colors on. He leaves no possibility that most motorcycle club members do not engage in criminal activity. “Don’t be disillusioned,” he said. “There are professionals in these groups, lawyers, in public safety unfortunately. They have 9-to-5 jobs in hospitals and are nurses.” However, Nocco said when they’re not being a nurse, when they’re out here, they are committing crimes.
Nocco urged the public to call police to report any sightings of motorcyclists with out of state tags or motorcyclists riding in a pack with club colors on.
These assertions are absurd. To suggest that motorcycle club members are professionals by day and criminals by night is self-serving nonsense. Nocco, and others embracing his worldview, simply cannot fathom that the majority of motorcycle club members, including those in 1% clubs, are working professionals with no criminal records that regularly participate in 1st Amendment protected activities.
Do some motorcycle club members commit crimes? Of course. Just as some cops commit crimes. But illegal acts committed by individual cops do not mean all cops are criminals any more than this incident means all 1% club members are criminals. It is a fallacy of composition to make a generalized presupposition about a community consisting of thousands of people based on the actions of the few.
The NCOC is outraged that authorities are using this tragedy to tarnish Paul’s memory and perpetuate fear that could impact innocent motorcyclists. Thousands of bikers and motorcycle club members travel to Florida annually for dozens of events that happen around the state, including the Tampa Bay Area. Of immediate concern is the fact that many out of state club members will be coming to Florida in January for Paul’s memorial service. Club members will be coming to show their respects, not to retaliate. They are now all at risk of being profiled, harassed, or worse.
This is not the first time law enforcement has used a tragedy to perpetuate dangerous rumors. Following the Waco tragedy on May 17, 2015, Sargent Swanton of the Waco PD issued similar warnings. Swanton too reported that motorcycle clubs were descending on Waco to retaliate. However, in the end, after many months, law enforcement admitted all of the retaliation claims were false.
The motorcycle club community knew these rumors were false when they were reported in Waco, just as the NCOC knows Nocco’s warnings are false now. It is irresponsible and unethical to use the spotlight created by tragedy to criminalize an innocent victim and perpetuate fear of an entire community of associations protected by the 1st Amendment.
The National Council of Clubs Public Relations Committee