Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
U.S. Senate Takes A Stand Against Police Profiling Of Motorcyclists
The United States Senate has approved the Motorcycle Profiling Resolution (Senate Resolution 154) without amendment by unanimous consent on Dec 11, addressing concerns of motorcyclists across the country regarding law enforcement discriminating against bikers in traffic stops, citations and arrests.
This bipartisan and bicameral resolution (H.Res. 318 companion in the House) could provide a national solution to the discriminatory profiling of motorcyclists over mode of transportation or style of dress in enforcing the law. Several states have considered bills to prohibit police from profiling motorcyclists, and Washington became the first state to pass such an anti-profiling law in 2011, followed by Maryland in 2016.
The two companion measures in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, which are nonbinding and do not have the force of law, seek to curb profiling of motorcycle riders at the federal level by “Promoting awareness of motorcycle profiling and encouraging collaboration and communication with the motorcycle community and law enforcement officials to prevent instances of profiling.”
S.Res. 154 and H.Res. 318 also “urges State law enforcement officials to include statements condemning motorcycle profiling in written policies and training materials.”
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) spearheaded the measure in the Senate, and recently tweeted; “Pleased the Senate passed S.Res. 154 to encourage states to take steps to prevent profiling of #motorcycle riders. Hopefully this will lead to more efforts to raise awareness of and address motorcycle profiling.”
As defined by the Congressional resolutions, “motorcycle profiling” means “the illegal use of the fact that a person rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle related apparel as a factor in deciding to stop and question, take enforcement action, arrest, or search a person or vehicle with or without legal basis under the Constitution of the United States.”
Concerned riders are now urged to contact their Congressional delegations in the U.S. House of Representatives and encourage them to join their Senate colleagues by likewise passing House Resolution 318.
Government Wins First Round In Trial To Seize Mongols Patch
For over a decade, federal law enforcement authorities have been testing a unique legal tactic to take down the Mongols Motorcycle Club by seizing their trademarked logo under asset forfeiture laws, and now a federal jury in Santa Ana, California has found the Mongols guilty of racketeering and conspiracy, setting up a second phase of the trial during which the government will seek to seize control of the club’s “intellectual property” and thereby ban members from wearing their unifying “colors” or patches.
Federal prosecutors will ask the judge to fine the Mongol Nation — the West Covina, CA entity that legally owns the club trademark — and order it to forfeit rights to the identifying logo worn on the bikers’ vests.
Since the case is focused on the Mongols organization, no specific individuals are facing jail or prison time, but the government’s attempt to defrock club members is aimed at dismantling the club by destroying their identity and thus its allure.
During the five-week trial that ended Thursday, December 13, 2018 prosecutors testified that the Mongols were a violent criminal enterprise. According to the Associated Press, in finding the Mongols guilty of racketeering, jurors decided that the motorcycle club itself is a criminal organization.
The Mongols have denied that they are a criminal enterprise, arguing that the organization itself isn’t responsible for crimes committed by individual members or in self-defense.
Defense attorney Joseph A. Yanny argued that individual club members may have committed criminal acts but the club is blameless and kicks out members under a “zero-tolerance” policy for such activity.
“They won the battle, but they did not win the war,” said David Santillan, the current president of the Mongols, said of the government after the jury verdict.
In 2008, dozens of members were charged with racketeering based on an investigation in which agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives infiltrated the club, and a judge ruled that they should forfeit the Mongols trademark but later reversed the decision. The new case was filed in 2013, and it was thrown out two years later by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, but he was overruled on appeal.
Now, the same jury will return to court Jan. 8, as the focus of the trial shifts to potential seizures from the Mongols. Judge Carter, who is presiding over the trial, will make the final ruling on exactly what will be seized. If the judge ultimately approves the seizure of the trademark, he would also determine exactly what the government could do with it, including whether they could literally take the Mongols jackets off members’ backs.
Motorcycle clubs across the country are watching this test case closely. “They take our patch,” Santillan told the New York Times, “and then they take all the clubs’ patches.”
NCOM Convention To Address Bikers’ Rights Issues
Topics such as Motorcycle Profiling and “Save the Patch” will be among the many issues of concern to our nation’s motorcycle community that will be addressed during the upcoming 34th annual NCOM Convention, to be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-12, 2019 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Orlando, Florida. Hundreds of bikers’ rights activists from the ranks of motorcycle rights organizations (MROs) and Confederations of Clubs (COCs), as well as independents and other allied riders will gather to discuss the concerns of all riders.
Agenda items will cover various legal and legislative issues, with Special Meetings for Veterans Affairs, Women in Motorcycling, Clean & Sober Roundtable and World of Sport Bikes, as well as the Christian Unity Conference and Confederation of Clubs Patch Holders Meeting. Additional seminars will be conducted regarding Restoration of Rights, Leadership 101 and “Share the Road” Motorcycle Safety.
All motorcyclists are welcome, and to pre-register for the 2019 NCOM Convention contact the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
Cell Phone Bans Are Saving Motorcyclists’ Lives
Laws to ban or curb drivers’ use of cell phones and other handheld devices have greatly reduced the rate of fatalities for motorcyclists, according to a new study by faculty at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami. The study’s findings, recently published in Social Science & Medicine, show that states with moderate to strong bans have motorcycle fatality rates that differ by as much as 11% compared to states with no bans. Read More