The problem with the war on terror is that it is a war on the Constitution decorated with American flags. The real goal of this war seems to be to prohibit nonconformity and dissent. And nothing shouts nonconformity and dissent louder than a big, modified American motorcycle. So one theater of this war is the war on bikers.
The war on bikers, and particularly the war on motorcycle clubs, relies on a long list of shady tactics. Here is a short list of the most obvious ones.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute epitomizes what has been called “The federalization of crime and the criminalization of everything.” The law, which was originally intended to prohibit “racketeer infiltration of legitimate business.” In other words it was designed to prevent “the mob” from going legitimate. But in 1981, in a case called United States v. Turkette, the Supreme Court broadened the law by redefining the phrase “enterprise.” While the authors of RICO intended “enterprise” to mean a legitimate bar or bowling alley that had been corrupted by “the mob,” Turkette reinterpreted “enterprise” to mean “the mob” itself.” So now the law has become a way to enforce de facto “Bills of Attainder,” which are specifically prohibited by Article One, Clause three of the Constitution.
Civil forfeiture lawsuits always accompany RICO prosecutions. Simply stated, the federal government uses civil forfeiture to steal everything from people policemen do not like. You do not have to be proven guilty of any crime to have the government steal your stuff. Rather, police simply steal what they want and in order to get it back you have to prove you are innocent. Civil forfeiture proceedings are always characterized by loathsome gamesmanship on the part of government attorneys.
Extra Judicial Punishment
Cops have always beat up “bad guys.” But in the last generation highly militarized police have perfected a form of punishment called the Swat raid. Typically, bullies carrying machine guns break into homes at dawn, terrorize and humiliate the residents, kill the pets and wreck everything they can break. The raids are carried out on the flimsiest of pretexts – like indicia searches. In an indicia search, police target the home of a motorcycle club member or sympathizer to search for proof of his membership, like club memorabilia and photographs. Because the point of these searches is to punish people who have a right to be presumed innocent, they violate the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution.
Police, particularly federal police, routinely commit all manner of searches and surveillance that violate the Fourth Amendment. That is the amendment which guarantees that Americans and all residents of the United States shall be free from unreasonable and general searches. But police justify searching computers and other electronic devices using flimsy and bogus pretences. And, police in disparate jurisdictions also surveil email, text messages and cell phone conversations.
Prohibiting Free Speech
In 2008, federal prosecutors began trying to outlaw motorcycle clubs by outlawing the symbols club members wear. The Mongols Motorcycle Club has been most burdened by this shredding of the First Amendment. Federal prosecutors have been trying to outlaw the Mongols by outlawing their patch. The goal is to eventually outlaw membership in all clubs that have not been approved by government officials, as the Night Wolves are approved in Russia. Australia, which has weaker constitutional protections than the United States, has recently gone so far as to formally forbid membership in about 25 motorcycle clubs and criminalize fraternization among club members, or more ominously, fraternization among people who have been secretly accused of club membership.
Justified public concern about RICO, civil forfeiture, extra judicial punishment, intrusive surveillance and attempts to limit free speech bisects racial, social and partisans lines. This war on the Constitution should concern the left wing and right wing, white, black, yellow and brown. All Americans should be concerned about the burgeoning American police state.
Save The Patch
The biker’s rights group that has formed to oppose all these police excesses and particularly the outlawing of motorcycle clubs is called “Save The Patch.”
Save The Patch is comprised of members and supporters of numerous motorcycle clubs. It was formed to protect the right to belong to a motorcycle club. The group is just getting off the ground but it has a real chance to bring some reason to the public discussion of the biker menace. And if riding a Harley is an important part of your life you should offer Save The Patch your support.
So you should be aware that Save The Patch is throwing a party this Saturday at The House Lounge, 3626 Fruitland Avenue in Maywood, California from noon until 6 p.m. The event will feature live bands, DJs, food and “Save The Patch” merchandise. It will provide an opportunity for people who might not usually speak to one another to unite around a common cause. And attending this event will be a relatively painless way to stand up for something that matters.
If you live in Southern California, particularly if you live in Los Angeles, and you care about the War on the Constitution you should try to attend.