The Mongols Nation Case lurched back to life Monday.
In a gasping, mendacious, 44-page appeal Eileen M. Decker, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California – which is to say the federal district with jurisdiction over 22 million American citizens and some great number of alien residents in Southern and Central California including Los Angeles – sought to reverse a ruling by District Court Judge David O. Carter in September 2015 that prevented the incipient American police state from effectively ripping the patches off the backs of every motorcycle club member in America.
Sinister or very stupid, or maybe both, managers in the Department of Justice have been trying to reckon a way to outlaw the kinds of motorcycle clubs that wear patches cut into three pieces since October 2008. On October 21 of that year, then U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien – who soon resigned under a cloud of scandal and now grows rich defending white collar criminals – promised America that “if any law enforcement officer sees a Mongol wearing his patch, he will be authorized to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back.”
The Patch Did It
The supposed premise of this radical notion is that members of motorcycle clubs are more criminal than other Americans; that they are more criminal because they belong to motorcycle clubs; and that society may be saved from their criminality by banning the display of the insignia that identifies men, women and children as members or supporters of those clubs.
Or, maybe the idea is just to give the Mongols a really hard time.
American law enforcement officials have lobbied for and helped write laws that effectively ban membership in motorcycle clubs in Australia and in Europe. Federal law enforcement agencies have lobbied for “gang enhancement” laws in most states that mandate that members of motorcycle clubs who are found guilty of crimes be punished more severely than people who commit the same crimes but who are not members of motorcycle clubs. Federal police also encourage and bribe local police departments to intimidate hotel, restaurant and bar owners into banning motorcycle club patches from their premises. After the deadly brawl in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, Texas, for example, the restaurant was blamed for the violence and driven out of business because it had tolerated motorcycle club members on its premises.
Ironically, the display of motorcycle club insignia is a form of constitutionally protected expression. The Christian Cross and the Star of David are also protected expressions. So is the Moslem Crescent, the hammer and sickle and the burning cross. Unless the display of a Mongols patch can somehow be “reasonably” construed as an “imminent threat” there is no legal way the government can forbid its display. So far, it is a free country. But there many powerful voices who argue that America will be much safer if it becomes just a little less free and if the police are less restrained by law and are given greater “freedom to do their jobs.”
The government’s eight-year long fight over the Mongols insignia abandoned reality long ago.
Monday’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court begins: “The Mongols Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (‘Mongols Gang’) is a violent and highly structured criminal enterprise based in the Central District of California. In an audacious, novel move, a select group of the
Gang – so-called ‘full-patched’ members – federally registered two marks used by the gang to identify members and to terrorize enemies. In filings with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (‘USPTO’), these full-patched members identified themselves as an unincorporated association, defendant Mongol Nation. Mongol Nation has a distinct legal and practical role within the gang enterprise. It includes only a subset of the enterprise’s members and associates, it identifies itself as a separate entity, it registered and holds the gang’s intellectual property, and it controls use of the gang’s marks.”
And none of that paragraph is even remotely true. It is a knot of lies and it is tedious to deconstruct it let alone the rest of this motion. “The Mongols Outlaw Motorcycle Gang” is an epithet invented by policemen and prosecutors. It has never been proven to be “a violent and highly structured criminal enterprise.” “So-called ‘full-patched’ members” are not a “a select group of the Gang.” They constitute the membership of the club. The Mongols marks in question, the word mark “Mongols” and picture mark which depicts Genghis Khan sitting on a rigid framed Harley wearing bell bottom jeans and smoking a joint, are not trademarks in the usual sense. They are “collective membership marks” which are owned by members of the club collectively. There is nothing particularly “audacious” or “novel” about registering the marks. That’s why the United States Patent and Trademark Office exists. Mongol Nation is a turn of phrase. Over the last eight years, using unlimited resources, the United State Department of Justice has never been able to prove that the Mongols Motorcycle Club is a “gang enterprise” let alone what part the turn of phrase “Mongols Nation” might play in its criminality.
Beat Goes On
The entire appeal goes on in that vein. It is a turgid document full of references to disparate cases that have nothing to do with the underlying issue, which is: Can a new exception be found in Constitutional law that would allow policemen to rip off people’s clothes?
Much of the appeal, after ten months of reconsideration, tries to refute the legal arguments raised in open court by Mongols’ attorneys Joe Yanny and Elliot Min last year. The appeal is full of specious assumptions. It describes every tree from the least obvious angle without mentioning the forest once.
It is a horror to consider what this appeal must have cost to produce. It is a horror to calculate how much the government has spent on this lost cause since 2005 when the federal investigation that was the foundation of this case began: At this point it must amount to at least $200 million. America is disgraced by this. The never ending crusade against the Mongols looks more and more every year like a self perpetuating boondoggle.
And there is no way to tell how the appeals court will see it.