The MPP has reported extensively about the alarming trend of law enforcement and government officials charging individual with crimes, or having personal property seized simply for belonging to motorcycle clubs. Many of these instances are clear violations of the US Constitution. The following is a report about a Pennsylvania man’s ordeal. He has zero criminal history and is a legal Pennsylvania and Utah Concealed Carry Permit holder. While riding his motorcycle he was struck by a truck in a traffic accident. His firearm, nonsensically, was confiscated under the guise of being evidence in the investigation of a traffic accident. Such incidents highlight the urgent need for legislation addressing the practice of motorcycle profiling as recently urged by the unanimous consent of the US Senate.
On May 11th, 2019, a member of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club was traveling on Rt. 291, just outside of Philadelphia. A pickup truck driven by an uninsured, out-of-state driver pulled out of the left-hand shoulder of the road and hit the member’s Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He was thrown approximately forty feet from the motorcycle, receiving multiple, major injuries. Fortunately, traveling behind was a member of the Brookers MC, and his wife, both former EMT’s. She helped keep the victim calm and stable until an ambulance could arrive. While waiting for ambulance and police to arrive, the Pagan’s MC member gave the Brookers MC member his legally owned handgun to safely secure. The Bookers MC member placed the firearm in his truck inside the locked glove box. Once medics arrived and took over the scene, the victim’s jacket was unzipped and, according to the Bookers MC member’s wife, a Chester police office noticed a Pagan’s t-shirt, remarking “oh, he’s a Pagan.” While being loaded onto the ambulance for transport to a local hospital, another Chester police officer noticed the victim’s empty firearm holster.
The Chester officer asked the Bookers MC member if he knew where the firearm was. He informed the officer that he had taken possession of the firearm and would transport it to the victim’s home. The officer falsely stated that it was illegal and that he was required to seize the firearm. The Bookers MC member responded that he has a current and legal Concealed Carry Permit in the state of PA, and it is legal for him as such to take possession of said firearm. The officer demanded the firearm while he spoke with a supervisor about the law. The Bookers MC member complied and gave the officers the firearm. The officer returned to his squad car, and left the scene within five minutes, taking the firearm with him.
After five days in the hospital with serious injuries, including head and brain trauma, the victim was cognizant enough to speak with his wife about the accident. He was informed that the police had indeed seized his firearm. When he spoke to a member of the Chester police department, he was told that his firearm was sent to Delaware County District Attorneys Criminal Investigation Unit (CID) for ballistic testing. He was told that he would have to petition the DA’s office for the return of his legally owned firearm.
4th Amendment Violation
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Despite being the victim of a careless, reckless driver, having not committed any crime, the Pagan’s MC member had his legally owned firearm confiscated by law enforcement officials simply due to his association with a Motorcycle Club. This is a clear violation of his Constitutional rights to free from unreasonable seizures.
Silence from Law Enforcement
The MPP attempted to contact the agencies involved to no avail. Neither Captain Stubbs of the Chester Police Department, nor Sgt. David McDonald or Chief Joseph Ryan of the Delaware County District Attorneys office responded to telephone calls regarding the seizure, or of any policies of either department that would dictate the seizure of personal property.
After going through the extensive red tape required to regain possession of his legal firearm, after it was illegally seized, the Pagan’s MC member was finally successful.
The targeted harassment of Motorcycle Club members in Pennsylvania is nothing new. These situations only highlight the necessity for passage of an Anti-Motorcycle Profiling law. Members of the MPP and the National Council of Clubs are working with local and federal officials towards the adoption of such laws.
We should not, cannot, and will not stand for the erosion of our Constitutionally granted rights.