There is a completely unpublicized case in Las Vegas that illustrates what is most wrong with the federally financed war on motorcycle clubs. Eight members of the Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club are being forced to prove their clubs are not criminal gangs.
The case results from a fairly straightforward fist fight between two grown men in the parking lot of Mr. D’s Sports Bar and Grill last year in Las Vegas. Mr. D’s is about three miles off the Strip.
According to multiple sources, the alleged victim was a member of “another group” who decided to pick on the oldest Vietnam Vet there. After repeatedly describing the veteran as a “motherfucker” and deliberately pushing him the old guy dropped his tormenter. The victim suffered a significant facial cut and bruised ribs and a brief shoving match between the two groups ensued.
The event was investigated by the increasingly draconian and out of control Las Vegas Gang Task Force which chose to view the dustup as territorial beef between rival mafias.
Police have alleged that the victim was assaulted with a weapon.
The indictment against the eight men implies that the old veteran and his friends started it and “did then and there willfully, unlawfully, feloniously, and knowingly” get into a fist fight “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in affiliation with, a criminal gang, to wit: Vietnam Vets/Legacy Vets Motorcycle Club, which has as one of its common activities, engaging in felonious criminal activities, other that the conduct which constitutes the primary offense.”
The case is still unresolved and ongoing.
Prosecution As Punishment
As is invariably the case with motorcycle club prosecutions, the Vietnam Vets case is not intended to solve or punish a crime or protect the public at large but to use the power of the law to inflict a maximum of inconvenience, embarrassment and pain on the defendants so as to make examples of them to all the other uppity bikers. It is a malicious prosecution that seems to have been brought simply because the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has decided to go to war with bikers.
According to multiple sources the eight men have run up $140,000 in legal bills so far. The bills represent a de facto punishment. It is all very well for prosecutors and other tools of the prison industrial complex to mouth self serving platitudes about an imaginary “presumption of innocence” but the platitudes do not represent reality and the general public has a right to know how American justice really works.
The danger the case illustrates is that if the police can vilify the Vietnam Vets they can vilify any community group. It just so happens that members of the Vietnam Vets define their identities by wearing patches and riding their motorcycles in packs. It is a very small step from defining them as “felonious criminals” for the way they express their identities to describing political, religious and other social groups the same way.