The civil rights lawsuit filed by Melissa Summerson against the city of Kingman, Arizona continues to crawl its way through the U.S. Court for the District of Arizona.
The straightforward case has entered its discovery phase and 14 witnesses have been notified that they will be deposed. Twelve of the deposition notices were filed last Friday. The deadline for discovery is February 28. No biker “experts” will be deposed and the case is unlikely to reach trial. The matter may be settled as early as May Day.
Summerson was fired from her job as a personnel administrator on December 28, 2012 because her husband was a member of the Desert Road Riders Motorcycle Club.
Summerson’s firing was part of a widespread witch hunt that began after a fist fight between alleged members of the Vagos and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs at Lazy Harry’s Lounge in Bullhead City, Arizona on December 23, 2011.
An Arizona police force called the Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission decided to pursue enforcement opportunities against Harley riders in Northwestern Arizona and particularly in Kingman. The police force with the absurd name refers to itself as GIITEM, which is supposed to pronounced like the word that urges dogs to fight. It is widely called the State Gang Task Force.
After the fight at Lazy Harry’s GIITEM urged Kingman to initiate a virtual ban on club patches. The following summer local and state police began harassing anyone wearing any patch. Victims of the harassment included Patriot Guard Riders and members of HOG.
Melissa Summerson began working for Kingman in 1996. Her husband William joined the Desert Road Riders in 2004. His membership in the club was well known and did not become an issue until after the GIITEM enforcement initiative began. The Desert Road Riders is widely considered to be a family club. Members wear a one piece patch and convicted felons are prohibited from joining.
Two weeks before Melissa Summerson was fired her boss drafted a letter that read in part: “You are an associate of a documented Criminal Street Gang, Desert Road Riders a documented support club of the Hell’s Angels, under A.R.S. 13-105. As such, your association with Criminal Street Gangs causes us great concern. Because Criminal Street Gangs are known to have strict rules which controls (sic) the behavior and functions of its members, your access to confidential information is in direct conflict with the role of Human Resources.”
The Summersons maintain that there is nothing criminal about the Desert Road Riders and that Americans have the right to join any law abiding group they want.