Washington motorcyclists who rode to the state capitol (above) to lobby their elected representatives last January 22nd were spied on by the Washington State Patrol.
A day when bikers can lobby legislators is an annual event called Black Thursday in Washington. Bikers provide such an excellent photo-opportunity for politicians that they are actually encouraged to come participate for a day each year in the big ragtime show in Olympia.
The annual event is organized by the Washington State chapter of A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments (ABATE.) ABATE is the original biker rights organization and it attempts to help politicians make informed decisions about issues like motorcycle helmets, the reasonableness of noise levels and lane splitting. Members of the organization also regularly attempt to show the non-motorcycling world that bikers are well-intentioned, public spirited and charitable.
Criminal Opposition To Or Advocacy Of
Last January, the Black Thursday riders were in the capitol to discuss five very typical bills with their representatives:
• HB 1403 which addresses the detection of motorcycles and bicycles at vehicle-activated traffic control signals.
• SB 5652 which requests a reduction in toll rates charged to motorcycles.
• SB 5552 which would modify the restrictions on children riding motorcycles.
• HB 1497 which would eliminate the Motorcycle Safety Program in Washington.
• And, HB 1344 which would exempt drivers of enclosed, three-wheeled passenger vehicles from needing a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s licenses.
And, as is usual with these sorts of events, an area at the state capitol was set aside for motorcycle parking. The special motorcycle only parking lot is usually interpreted by bikers to be a courtesy extended to them by the politicians. It is now apparent that police interpret the biker parking section as an espionage opportunity.
A video of a well-fed and self-satisfied State Patrol officer hard at work made the rounds last week. The video shows the cop methodically inspecting every bike in the state capitol parking lot, muttering to himself and recording the license plate numbers and the Vehicle Identification Numbers of every single motorcycle. At one point, the video shows the cop backing into the bushes and crouching down so he will not be seen.
Washington attorney Martin Fox wrote a letter to Governor Chris Gregoire protesting the spying on behalf of ABATE. “I may be old school, but I always thought that the Capitol was supposed to be a sanctuary for free speech and assembly, and not an opportunity for clandestine intelligence gathering on citizens trying to be involved in the political process,” Fox wrote.
The governor has not yet replied but the State police have and, typically, they are not apologizing. State Patrol spokesman Freddy Williams told the Olympia Olympian that “the trooper recorded license plate numbers in a non-intrusive manner so the patrol would have a way of finding out who was present.”
You know, like if the cops found out that somebody was telling the politicians that the cops were impeding democracy then the cops would have a list of the names of their enemies. So then they would know who to arrest. Someone who has actual access to Governor Gregoire, like one of those imitation reporters you see on TV, should stick a microphone in this guy’s face and ask him if he really thinks this is what Thomas Jefferson had in mind.