Biker News From Around the Country

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This is a compilation of news bytes from Bill Bish and the Brothers Behind Bars Newsletter… I believe it’s important to stay abreast of biker news in all states, not just your own.

Biker Newsbytes: Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish, NCOM

Motorcycle Bill Aims to bring Equal Treatment: South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley recently signed a Motorcycle Equal Access Bill that mandates equal treatment toward motorcyclists across the state in all public areas. This legislation, sponsored by Rep. Todd Atwater (R-Lexington), amends the Code of South Carolina to keep local law enforcement agencies from denying access to motorcyclists on public highways, bridges, parking garages and essentially any publicly funded areas. A lot of local motorcycle groups supported this bill, many feeling that law enforcement has not treated them right for a long time and they say they’re ready for a change. “There’s few municipalities, in particular, that want to stop motorcycles from parking in publicly funded taxpayer areas,” said one ABATE spokesperson. “If tax payers are paying for a garage, then they should not be allowed to tell us we can’t park there.” Under the bill, cities and counties have to make reasonable accommodations for motorcycle parking in lots and garages. “All this bill is about is equal access, this is making sure that when you go to any city in this state that if you have a motorcycle you have a place to park,” said the governor who is also an ABATE member, adding; “As long as I have been in office, ABATE has been my friends, and that’s because they fight for all the right things; they’ve always fought for safety, they’ve always fought for individual rights, they’ve always fought to make sure that people have the liberties they should have.”

Missouri Lifts Ban on Sunday Cycle Sales: Due to so-called “Blue Laws” influenced by early religious edicts, vehicle sales are prohibited on the Sabbath in several states, but Missouri recently joined a growing list of states that are repealing these outdated bans. Governor Jay Nixon signed HB1735 on Mon, June 23rd that will lift a ban on Sunday sales of motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, personal watercraft and other items typically sold by power-sports dealers. The legislation was championed by motorcycle riders and at least one Harley-Davidson dealer from the Kansas City area, who told lawmakers that he was losing Sunday business to a competitor in Kansas. When the measure takes effect August 28, Missouri will join Indiana, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland in removing their Sunday sales bans over the past few years. Other states that currently prohibit the Sunday sales of motorcycles and automobiles are Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Oklahoma, North Dakota and Wisconsin. The Missouri legislation does not repeal the state’s ban on Sunday sales of cars and trucks.

Utah Lawmakers Urged to “Get Ahead” of Outlaw Bikers: A perceived proliferation of outlaw motorcycle “gangs” in Utah has led a veteran police officer to warn lawmakers that they need to get ahead of the curve. “There’s been a 300% increase in the members of outlaw motorcycle gangs in Utah, compared to what we experienced 5 years ago,” Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Lane Critser told members of the Legislature’s Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee on Wed, July 16. Critser, who has worked in gang enforcement since 2008, said the proliferation of gangs and gang members could be attributed to multiple factors. Utah is an “untouched” state, meaning no gang has claimed territory as its own. Also, law enforcement in Utah is unaccustomed to dealing with outlaw motorcycle gangs on a regular basis, he said. “It’s like a gold rush. Everybody is trying to get here and establish dominance in the state so they can run a variety of their criminal activities and make their money in the state,” Critser testified to the committee. The state also is becoming increasingly attractive to members of outlaw motorcycle clubs because Utah is largely rural, said Rep. Paul Ray (R-Clearfield), pointing out that a number of clubs have hosted runs in Utah, including one where several members racked up citations for multiple violations in numerous counties en route to Weber County, and “By the time they got there, they just turned around and went home. They didn’t want to deal with it anymore,” Ray said. “Really, you’ve got to make it expensive and uncomfortable for these guys and they won’t want to stick around.” While he offered no details, Ray said he intends to introduce a gang initiative during the 2015 legislative session.

Berlin Bans Hells Angels Logo: Outlawing the motorcycle club’s symbols represents the latest weapon in a fight to stop Germany’s ‘rocker wars.’ In the latest salvo of a battle to rein in outlaw motorcycle clubs, authorities in Berlin are hitting the global Hells Angels brand where it hurts most: the logo. Last month, the signature winged death’s head and “Hells Angels” label featured on the motorcycle club’s “cut,” or leather vest, were banned in the capital as the symbols of a criminal organization. According to GlobalPost, a Hamburg judge outlawed Germany’s first Hells Angels charter in the city in 1983, but the Hells Angels as an organization have never before been banned across Germany. Now the prohibition of the iconic logo has come about through an ironic twist. When a former member of the banned Hamburg charter appealed to the court in April to be allowed to wear the club’s “colors,” the judge interpreted the original ruling to mean that the Hells Angels logo is illegal not only in Hamburg, but throughout the country. “Now, all the other regions in Germany are thinking about that judgment,” said detective superintendent Matthias Frohn, deputy head of the Berlin police division responsible for curtailing the city’s motorcycle gangs. Frohn says it remains to be seen whether the broader ban on the club’s logo will be enough to finally scatter the gang.

Mongols Refused Incorporation: The Mongols MC has been formally refused permission to become a registered incorporated body in South Australia. Despite claims by the club that it hosts recreational and charity events and that it was only formed because of its members’ interests in American motorcycles, Acting Liquor Licensing Commissioner Dini Soulio has refused their application. Senior legal sources told the Herald-Sun newspaper that they believe the Mongols’ move was largely tactical and aimed at thwarting the provisions of the Serious and Organized Crime (Control) Act should police obtain association or control orders against any members in the future. SA Attorney-General John Rau has endorsed the decision, made on public safety grounds, to reject the Mongols’ incorporation application. A Mongols source said the club was considering a legal challenge to the ruling “in the same successful way as two previous legal challenges” involving anti-bikie legislation.

NCOM Region 1 Meeting & Seminar, October 25th in Portland, Oregon: The National Coalition of Motorcyclists will host an NCOM Region 1 Meeting & Seminar on Sat, Oct 25 at the Holiday Inn – Portland Airport, 8439 N.E. Columbia Blvd in Portland, Oregon (503) 256-5000. NCOM Region 1 comprises the states of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Oregon and Washington, and this annual Coming Together will feature a seminar on the Defender Program & Freedom of the Road Throughout the Nation talk by Paul Landers, U.S. Defender Lt Commander and Liaison for COCs Texas; “Profiling the Big Win in Washington” by “Double D” & Twitch – Outsiders M/C, Washington State COC; and a seminar on Legal Issues by Washington Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Atty Marty Fox and Oregon A.I.M. Attorney Sam Hochberg. A Regional Meeting will include discussions from participating state organizations, and continue with a Confederation of Clubs Meeting with reports from representatives of each Confederation present, and conclude with a Christian Unity Seminar and Meeting. For further information, contact NCOM at 800-ON-A-BIKE or visit http://www.on-a-bike.com/

Save the Patch (Excerpted), by Spike: The familiar rumble and roar of a pack of bikes, which is music to our ears, may be a faintly distant tune in the future. The loudest noise on the streets right now is the buzz and the buzz on the streets is “Save The Patch”.

‘Save The Patch’ is the culmination of many factors including decades of ever increasing discrimination and persecution to Bikers, their organizations and their lifestyle in general. We as bikers have widely been subjected to unwarranted highway stops, refused admittance into establishments and misrepresentation by law enforcement and the media. The U.S. Dept of Justice last year filed a lawsuit seeking to seize control of the trademarked logo of the Mongol Nation MC LLC, arguing that the Mongols are a criminal organization and that the mark is used for intimidation; but the Mongols and their attorneys argue that the government is overstepping its bounds with the lawsuit, which they said would infringe on the rights of club members. “They’re trying to destroy the right of men to associate and indicate their association,” said Joe Yanny, an atty representing the Mongols. “It’s absolutely ridiculous. In addition to being a violation of club members’ free-speech rights, more importantly, it’s a due-process issue.”

The lawsuit breaks new ground in terms of trademark law, the attorney said, adding that it may end up at the Supreme Court. Unlike a business trademark controlled by a single entity, the Mongols’ logo is a “collective membership mark,” and “It’s legally owned by one entity, but held in trust for the members. It’s the votes of club members that ultimately determined who is allowed to wear the club’s patch.”

Bikers throughout the state and nationwide identify with the message being sent out and the ramifications, if the patch is lost, it will affect us all. In southern California, widely respected members of all major clubs have met to discuss ways to save the patch.

A Facebook page “Save the Patch” has been set up since Oct and it states: “It has become time to further protect and defend our rights to ride, associate, and enjoy our lifestyle for all motorcycle riders and enthusiasts. To wear our respective clubs membership insignia, which have been trademarked, copyrighted, and incorporated by these organized entities. Representatives from a few of these clubs in Southern California have come together to make the initial steps in presenting and organizing the support of all motorcycle clubs and riders to stand up and work to prevent the freedoms we all value and enjoy from being eroded further, by an ever more intrusive government apparently bent on tyrannical control, we all need to become involved and work to defend that which we all enjoy about our lifestyle, be it as a club member or independent riders.”

The good news is, the passion to ride, the passion for freedom and the passion to preserve the life style is more than enough to unite the Biker world in whatever stance it takes to Save The Patch. To contribute, make checks payable to “Trademark Defense Fund” and mail c/o NCOM, 7334 Topanga Canyon Blvd, Suite 200, Canoga Park, CA 91303.

Weird News: What’s A “Biker”? Do you identify yourself as a “biker,” a “motorcyclist,” or a “rider”? To some motorcycle riders, the terms are fairly interchangeable. To others, the terms are more finely nuanced, as the people behind the Oxford English Dictionary recently discovered. Last Feb, the online edition for the Oxford English Dictionary rewrote its definition for “biker” after receiving complaints from motorcyclists. Riders took exception to the old definition which read: “a motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang: a long-haired biker in dirty denims.” In a poll of 524 motorcycle riders, nearly three-quarters of them said the definition was inaccurate, while 60% said it was “dated and irrelevant.” Another 21% had a more passionate reaction, saying they were “outraged and offended.” In response, the Oxford University Press, which publishes the OED, updated the definition to read: “a motorcyclist, especially one who is a member of a gang or group: a biker was involved in a collision with a car.” We’re not sure that’s much better, but then we don’t represent ourselves to be the “most comprehensive dictionary of the English language.”

Quotable Quote: “Let us form 1 body, 1 heart & defend to the last warrior our country, our homes, our liberty, & the graves of our fathers.” ~ Tecumseh (1768-1813) Shawnee leader, folk hero

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