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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Motorcycle clubs fight to keep their trademark ‘colors’



Federal prosecutors have dropped a controversial bid to seize the trademark owned by a motorcycle club that casts itself as the “Devils Diciples.”

But while the development this week cheers the Midwestern group and the California-based lawyer who represents them, it does not entirely slam the brakes on other trademark challenges involving motorcyclists’ fierce and distinctive logos.

Still in the government’s cross hairs, notably, is the trademarked logo for the Mongol Nation, a Southern California-based motorcycle club whose intellectual property has been sought by federal prosecutors since 2008 (link is external). A federal appellate court is now considering the Mongol Nation case.

“These trademark cases are important to the clubs, whose free association has been threatened by the attempts by (prosecutors) to enjoin use of their membership (marks) by non-indicted persons,” Mongol attorney Fritz Clapp, a former longtime Sacramento resident, said Tuesday.

Members of the Mongols and the Devils Diciples call their organizations clubs (link is external), while law enforcement officials refer to them as gangs or criminal enterprises.

Prosecutors began trying to seize the Devils Diciples’ trademark as a byproduct of a criminal case that culminated in the February convictions (link is external) of six Devils Diciples leaders on drugs, firearms and other charges.

The prosecutors’ decision now to leave the Devils Diciples’ trademark alone was noted through filings made Monday in federal court in Detroit. The prosecutors explained in one filing that they had “learned the identity of the trademark’s owner,” who has not been charged with crimes.

“Generally, the government can only criminally forfeit property, under an applicable forfeiture statute, in which a defendant in a criminal case has an ownership interest,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Linda Aouate explained Tuesday.

Most law enforcement asset-forfeiture efforts target (link is external) conventional property. As part of their original Devils Diciples case, prosecutors in October 2014 itemized property they wanted to seize, from Glock handguns and Mossberg shotguns to slot machines and “two Devils Diciples bandanas.”

At the end of the 32-page property listing, prosecutors included the club’s trademark.

That trademark (link is external), including the deliberately rebellious spelling, consists of an upper arc framing the words “Devils Diciples,” a design with two crossed pitchforks over a spoked wheel, and the letters “M.C.”

If prosecutors had prevailed in their trademark-forfeiture effort, the government could have eventually owned the mark and protected its property interests, such as by demanding that club members surrender their treasured designs.

“I was pleased the (prosecutors) easily recognized that the facts and law favored my client, so that the matter need not be submitted to the court for decision,” Clapp said.

A 70-year-old graduate of the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law (link is external), Clapp has also represented the Hells Angels (link is external)in protecting that motorcycle club’s intellectual property. Sometimes this has entailed taking the legal offensive.

Over the past eight years, the Mongols trademark cases established important precedents regarding forfeiture of collective membership marks and the implications of free speech and association. Fritz Clapp, intellectual property attorney for the Devils Diciples

In 2013, for instance, the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club sued the Dillard’s department store chain and a clothing line associated with the rapper Young Jeezy over the use of the club’s trademarked “Death Head” logo. The lawsuit, filed in Sacramento federal court, was resolved in a confidential settlement.

Other motorcycle clubs – ranging from the Thug Nomads and the Persecuted Souls to the Knights of Fire and the Immortal Soulz – have likewise secured trademarks for their names or logos, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office records show (link is external).

In the Devils Diciples case, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade (link is external) of the Eastern District of Michigan said the individual defendants were “responsible for violence and trafficking in methamphetamine in Macomb County and across the country.”

The still-simmering Mongol Nation case began when then-U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien unveiled in Los Angeles (link is external) an indictment of 79 Mongols for a variety of offenses. As part of his campaign, O’Brien sought the Mongols’ trademarks.

“If the court grants our request . . . then 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,” O’Brien said at the time.

All but two of the original 79 defendants were eventually convicted. Prosecutors failed, though (link is external), in their attempt to seize the club’s trademark, an effort they are trying to revive at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“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,” prosecutors wrote in an Aug. 8 filing.

The Mongol Nation has until Nov. 10 to respond.
Read more here: (link is external)


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016


Lane Splitting: Educational Guidelines Legislation (California AB51) Update...8/11/16.

 When I contacted Assemblymember Bill Quirk's chief of staff today regarding whether or not Governor Brown may schedule a formal bill signing ceremony for AB51, this was her response.....
"The last day for the governor to make a decision on the bill is Monday, August 22. Governor Brown rarely does formal signing ceremonies, we usually get a call, he issues a press release and then we issue ours. Should I hear anything different and we are able to organize a ceremony I will let you and everyone else know. But for now, I don’t think that will be the case."
Thanks for checking in.

Friday, August 26, 2016

babe of the day

You may be in California’s gang database and not even know it


ne mild fall evening, two deputies with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s gang unit headed into the streets of Carson, California, where palm trees are tagged with gang graffiti and street signs in some neighborhoods are turned around or removed to confuse outsiders.

The deputies, Jon Boden and Alfredo Garcia, had a big job to do. As part of the Operation Safe Streets Bureau, they were expected to get a handle on gang violence in the cities of Carson and Compton.
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The intent of that evening’s patrol was to prevent shootings – but the deputies also were on the hunt for intelligence about gang feuds and activity. Several times during the 2014 patrol – with a Reveal reporter riding along – they stopped, searched and questioned young blacks and Latinos about drugs, gangs and what they were doing in a particular neighborhood.

About 10 minutes into their shift, the deputies spotted a young couple in a silver Chevrolet parked under a tree in a J.C. Penney store’s backlot. Boden saw the man rolling a blunt of what he thought looked like crushed marijuana. Both deputies sprang out of the squad car and asked the man and his companion, a woman, to step out of the vehicle.

As Boden held the man’s hands behind his head and searched his pockets, the man started to struggle. The deputy forced him onto the hood of the squad car and handcuffed him. Boden pulled two bullets out of the man’s pants pocket; a search of the car yielded a gun safe with a .22-caliber pistol, several grams of marijuana, prescription drugs, a digital scale and two driver’s licenses that the deputies discovered had been reported stolen.
During a fall 2014 stop in Carson, Calif., deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s gang unit searched a car, finding a gun safe with a .22-caliber pistol, several grams of marijuana, prescription drugs, a digital scale and two driver’s licenses that had been reported stolen.

During a fall 2014 stop in Carson, Calif., deputies from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department’s gang unit searched a car, finding a gun safe with a .22-caliber pistol, several grams of marijuana, prescription drugs, a digital scale and two driver’s licenses that had been reported stolen. Credit: Ali Winston/Reveal

The young man also had an unlocked cellphone on him. Thumbing through the device, Garcia found photographs of him posing with shotguns and pistols, a blue bandanna wrapped around his face. The man quickly admitted that the gun and drugs in the safe were his and that he was a member of the Park Village Compton Crips.

After Boden and Garcia had handcuffed the pair and were searching their car, Sgt. Gerardo Lucio, their supervising officer, pulled up. As the deputies conducted their search, Lucio explained the significance of the stop. It inevitably would produce a field information card identifying the man as a gang member, he said, “because he self-admitted and we found those photographs.” The woman also would get a card referring to her “as an associate” of a gang member.

If the officers hadn’t pulled over the duo that day, Lucio added, they would have “miss(ed) out on that information about his membership. … Field interview cards and field interviews help us figure out who’s hanging with who, when. A lot of the time, my guys get new members we haven’t come into contact with.”

    Police are “not supposed to rely on CalGang as evidence of gang membership. … In practice, they use it to check if an individual is listed as a gang member.”Peter Bibring
    senior staff attorney, ACLU of Southern California

The field card information would then be loaded into CalGang, a statewide database that over the years has grown to include more than 150,000 people. Law enforcement officials maintain that the tool is critical in the ongoing battle against gangs, but it has come under fire from civil libertarians and criminal justice reformers for its secrecy, which can ensnare innocent people without their knowledge.

Lucio said his deputies typically add people to CalGang based on tattoos, gang-related clothing or self-admission, criteria laid out in the 1988 STEP Act – California’s Street Terrorism Enforcement and Prevention Act – which allows judges to mete out harsher punishment for gang members.

Self-admission is unique. Whether it’s obtained in a field interview or at jail intake, it is the only criteria the STEP Act allows to stand on its own as proof of gang membership. There’s no room for gray areas: If someone claims a gang membership during a jail interview to avoid being housed with people from a hostile neighborhood or because he or she thinks it will garner respect and status, that automatically marks the person as a gangster in the eyes of California law enforcement.

Aside from a 2013 law that established a way for parents and juveniles to challenge a child’s inclusion in the database, most people can’t find out whether they are in CalGang. An effort to create a similar process for adults failed last year amid heavy lobbying by law enforcement agencies, which use the data to build files and bring charges against people based on their alleged gang ties.

Civil liberties advocates claim that the secrecy surrounding CalGang has created, in effect, a statewide investigative file blocked from external scrutiny.

“They’re not supposed to rely on CalGang as evidence of gang membership. They’re supposed to contact the person who entered that information into the system,” said Peter Bibring, a senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, speaking of both district attorneys and police. But, he said, “in practice, they use it to check if an individual is listed as a gang member.”

Those concerns, coupled with criticism that the criteria for adding someone to the database are too vague and people of color are disproportionately included, prompted the state to launch an audit of the system last summer. That report is due in August. In February, Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, introduced AB 2298, the latest attempt to require that adults be notified if they are included in CalGang.
Consequences of gang classification

Aaron Harvey learned the hard way what it can mean to be documented as a gang member. He was a 26-year-old seeking his fortune in the Las Vegas real estate industry when he stepped out of his apartment to get some lunch on July 18, 2014. The San Diego native had moved there a year earlier to get away from the tumult of the hardscrabble Lincoln Park neighborhood where he grew up and where his family has lived for decades.
Aaron Harvey, a former documented gang member on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 in San Diego, CA.(Photo by Sandy Huffaker for CIRonline)

Aaron Harvey was held without bail for eight months on criminal street gang conspiracy charges. Last March, a judge threw out the case against Harvey and several others, finding insufficient evidence to charge them. Credit: Sandy Huffaker for Reveal

Suddenly, nearly a dozen plainclothes U.S. marshals swarmed around Harvey with their guns drawn. He was arrested, booked at the Clark County jail and flown back to San Diego on a warrant in connection with nine shootings back home – shootings that had taken place after Harvey left for Nevada.

The shooters in these incidents never were identified. Instead, several men recorded on a wiretap discussing how to obtain a gun were charged with offenses ranging from attempted murder to assault. Harvey was not among them.

Even after the San Diego County district attorney’s office acknowledged that Harvey was not present for the shootings, he was charged with nine counts of criminal street gang conspiracy to commit a felony – one for each shooting. Prosecutors claimed that Harvey was a participant in the conspiracy because he was, they alleged, a member of the Lincoln Park Bloods and stood to benefit because the shootings would increase his notoriety. The gang conspiracy charge is relatively new, created in 2000 when California’s Proposition 21 increased penalties for gang offenses.

    “I tell people that it might be a black and brown issue now, but it is going to be yours later.”Aaron Harvey
    who was charged with criminal street gang conspiracy

To establish Harvey’s gang ties, prosecutors introduced photos from his Facebook account that showed him with other men from his neighborhood, wearing green clothing and making hand signs that prosecutors said were gang related.

They also cited evidence gathered from more than a dozen contacts Harvey had with San Diego gang police over the years – evidence that prosecutors suggested established his involvement with the Lincoln Park Bloods. Many of the contacts dated back to his teenage years, and none had resulted in a criminal charge.

Harvey ended up being held without bail for eight months. Last March, San Diego County Superior Court Judge Louis Hanoian threw out the case against Harvey and several of the other men, finding insufficient evidence to charge them.

“How can you attach a conspiracy,” the judge asked, “to a crime that doesn’t have a defendant?”

But release offered little relief. While he was in jail, Harvey lost his apartment and job as a club promoter. He moved back in with his parents in Lincoln Park. Motivated by what he sees as his own unfair targeting by law enforcement, he is now taking prelaw classes and organizing for criminal justice reform.

“I tell people that it might be a black and brown issue now, but it is going to be yours later,” Harvey said.

The case was a dark revelation for him. During an interview last spring at his parents’ home, Harvey vividly recalled those police stops, but it was only after prosecutors filed documents that he realized that police had documented each stop and taken detailed notes – about his tattoos, the colors he was wearing, where he was and the people he was with.

Each time, Harvey insisted that he was not affiliated with a gang. Still, he said, “you knew what the police considered you.”

Harvey now knows that information like that gathered about him routinely is fed into CalGang. That data – according to documents and interviews with law enforcement officials, attorneys and academics – frequently plays a role in arrests, inclusion in civil gang injunctions, deportations and criminal investigations.

The secrecy around CalGang and the loose criteria for inclusion in the database terrifies Harvey.

“It’s like a virus that you have, that you don’t know you have, and you’re spreading it to other people,” he said of gang classification. “(Someone) infected me with this disease; now I have it, and there’s no telling how many other people I have infected.”

But prosecutors believe Harvey has something to hide.

“Harvey knows more than he is willing to admit,” said Frank Jackson, San Diego County’s assistant district attorney in charge of gang prosecutions.
A history of California gangs

California long has been synonymous with street gangs and violence in popular culture, from “Boyz n the Hood” to “End of Watch.” Many of the state’s most infamous gangs – the Crips, the Bloods, the Norteños – coalesced in poor neighborhoods and barrios, particularly in the urban centers of the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego, in the middle of the 20th century. Others – Nuestra Familia, the Mexican Mafia, the Aryan Brotherhood – are offshoots of racial gangs formed in the state’s massive prison system.

As deindustrialization, white flight and urban decay hollowed out Los Angeles and other cities in the 1980s and the drug economy boomed, street gangs that previously engaged mostly in petty crime turned to more lucrative narcotics trafficking and grew as criminal organizations.

Almost as far back as there have been gangs, California law enforcement agencies have attempted to track their members. By the 1970s, this process had become routine. During stops of vehicles or pedestrians, police officers who suspected a person had a gang affiliation filled out a 5-by-7-inch index card, known as a field identification card. It included spaces for the person’s name, nickname, gang affiliation and physical description – including any identifying scars, birthmarks or tattoos – and room to attach a photograph. In the pre-digital days, these cards were filed alphabetically in cabinets, like library index cards.

But an upsurge of violence in the 1980s, largely attributed by law enforcement to the growth of gangs and the crack cocaine trade, led to the 1988 passage of the STEP Act.

Under the act, prosecutors now could seek longer sentences for people facing criminal charges who also fit 3 of 10 criteria that might indicate gang involvement: associating with known gang members, being seen in a known gang neighborhood – such as sections of Compton in the Los Angeles area, the Fillmore District in San Francisco and the Skyline area of Southeast San Diego – or wearing attire that might be gang related, such as a red San Francisco 49ers hat (Norteños/Bloods) or the blue caps of the Los Angeles Dodgers (Sureños/Crips).

As of mid-2015, 8,050 inmates – roughly 7 percent of the state’s prison population – are serving extra time because of these gang enhancements, according to The New York Times Magazine.

As the STEP Act was moving through the Legislature, prosecutors developed another tool: gang injunctions, which in effect are nuisance abatement suits that restrict an individual’s right to associate with other alleged gang members or move around freely in a geographic area linked to a gang. The injunctions provide law enforcement with wide latitude to stop, question and search people. They typically cover at least a dozen people and 1 to 3 square miles.

The injunctions have come under fire as a form of racial profiling in gentrifying areas such as L.A.’s Venice, and academic research does not show a clear impact on violent crime and gang involvement. Yet by 2013, according to court documents from a class-action lawsuit challenging the injunctions, more than 5,700 people in the Los Angeles area had been served with gang injunctions. A $30 million settlement was reached in the suit last week.

Against this backdrop, a private firm called Orion Scientific Systems Inc. began to create the CalGang database. The system’s first prototype, according to a report prepared by the California Department of Justice in 1999, was piloted by the San Diego Police Department in 1996 and rolled out statewide two years later at a cost of $520,000.

CalGang brought a sea change to state law enforcement by allowing officers in the field instant access to digitized intelligence about an individual’s gang ties. Before its launch, officers had to turn to an expensive and cumbersome electronic filing system called GREAT or dig through filing cabinets to pull up that person’s paper file.
Wes McBride was a sergeant in the Los Angeles County sheriff’s gang unit for 28 years until he retired in 2002. He now serves as the executive director of the California Gang Investigators Association.

Wes McBride was a sergeant in the Los Angeles County sheriff’s gang unit for 28 years until he retired in 2002. He now serves as the executive director of the California Gang Investigators Association. Credit: Stuart Palley for Reveal

GREAT – or the Gang Reporting, Evaluation, and Tracking system – was created by Wes McBride, a sergeant in the Los Angeles County sheriff’s gang unit for 28 years until he retired in 2002. McBride, who now serves as the executive director of the California Gang Investigators Association, went on to assist with the design of CalGang.

McBride believes in the value of rapid access to gang information that CalGang provides to field officers.

“In most cases, the gang members that you’re going to deal with are going to be your shooters and your victims,” he said. “These systems are built for when they’re not.”
Database veiled in secrecy

CalGang has been so successful that it has served as a template for similar databases marketed as the GangNet system by SRA International Inc. – which acquired Orion in 2004 – to law enforcement agencies in 13 other states, Canada and three federal agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In California, the database holds information on more than 150,000 men and women, according to data obtained from the CalGang Executive Board through the state Public Records Act. In a state where 45 percent of the population is Latino or black, 85 percent of those entered into the database as alleged gang members or associates are Latino or black. They are as young as 9 and as old as 65.


As is the case with the government’s terrorist watch list, most people do not have the right to know whether they are included in CalGang. The database’s operating guidelines require that secrecy and instruct law enforcement officials to say that they are advised against including references to the database in public reports, court documents or public testimony.

In 2013, the California Legislature took a swipe at CalGang’s lack of transparency, passing a law requiring police departments to notify the parents of juveniles included in the database and to allow them to challenge their children’s gang classification.

But an attempt to extend these protections to adults failed last year.

Adults are removed from the database only if their file is not updated for five years. The trouble is, a police officer can update a file through contact as minimal as stopping someone while he or she is driving or walking in a known gang area – like the dozens of times Aaron Harvey was stopped in his own neighborhood while visiting his family in an area that police say is Lincoln Park Bloods territory.

    “It’s like a virus that you have, that you don’t know you have. … (Someone) infected me with this disease; now I have it, and there’s no telling how many other people I have infected.”Aaron Harvey
    on gang classification

In fact, California prison inmates have more rights than people on the outside because they are notified by authorities if they are classified as a gang member and have the ability to challenge that decision through the corrections department.

“Very little is known about the CalGang database,” said Ana Muñiz, a UCLA sociologist who has researched the database and gang injunctions. “There’s no rigorous oversight. And yet you have files built on tens of thousands of people that could affect their lives in very real ways.”

McBride, the retired sheriff’s sergeant who helped create CalGang, maintains that the database does not harm people unless they break the law.

“Say you’re in there. It doesn’t harm you,” he said. “I can’t use it for jobs. All I can use it for is criminal investigations.”

But such reassurances do not sit well with Assemblywoman Shirley Weber of San Diego, who said her adult son was stopped by police in the summer of 2002 while out in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter and told that he would be entered into CalGang.

“Putting people on lists intimidates individuals and communities, and it also gives police officers an opportunity to go and arrest individuals who may not be gang members,” she said. “It casts a very wide net in communities. That has a chilling effect on young men who may have never even thought of being a member of a gang.”

In August, Weber urged the state auditor to launch a thorough examination of the database and its use by state and local law enforcement agencies.

Investigators have been asked to determine whether alleged gang members’ information has been kept in CalGang improperly, whether departments are complying with California’s gang criteria when they add data, whether minors are being removed in accordance with the 2013 law, how local law enforcement use the database, the system’s cost and whether it has been successful.
Efforts to open CalGang to public  

California police and prosecutors highly value the information CalGang provides, and they are concerned about efforts to provide access to the public.

The importance of CalGang to law enforcement became apparent last spring, when the California District Attorneys Association led the charge to derail AB 829, the bill sponsored by Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian, D-Van Nuys, that would have required notifying adults that they had been included in CalGang and established a process to petition for removal.

In emails to law enforcement agencies, association Assistant CEO Martin Vranicar wrote that AB 829 “would completely destroy the use of the CalGang database as a viable law enforcement tool.” He rallied support from other law enforcement advocacy groups to kill the bill before it reached the Assembly floor in April.

“We have to be opposed” to the measure, Aaron Maguire, a lobbyist for the California State Sheriffs’ Association, testified at the time. “We’re talking about undermining criminal investigations and providing very costly hearings.”

Glimpses of how CalGang is used emerge from conversations with current and former law enforcement officials, court filings and internal law enforcement documents.

When someone is stopped by police, his or her identification is checked against California’s law enforcement databases for prior arrests and contacts. Through CalGang, officers can check whether the person previously has been documented as a gang member or associate.

A 1999 California Department of Justice report includes accounts of how law enforcement used CalGang to identify and locate criminal suspects.

In the San Diego area, police identified a gang-related suspect by running a search for a “Maria” chest tattoo. Within minutes, the database pulled up 13 possible matches.

In the Central Valley city of Fresno, sheriff’s deputies identified a suspect in the gang rape of three underage girls by searching the database for a name – “Bolo” – that one of the victims remembered hearing.

Frank Jackson, the San Diego County assistant district attorney, said investigators there routinely use CalGang.

Others were more circumspect.

Many law enforcement agencies declined requests for information about how they use CalGang, how the database facilitates their daily functions and with whom they share records. CalGang’s Executive Board also declined to explain how the database is used.

Brian Schirn, an assistant head deputy with the hardcore gang unit at the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, is a strong defender of the STEP Act and the gang enhancements it offers prosecutors. When he was a prosecutor in the 1990s, he said, he heard residents at community meetings plead for relief from gang warfare.

“We would listen to these people who were afraid to leave their homes,” he said.

But Schirn would not open up about CalGang, beyond denying that his office relies on it for evidence. In fact, he said, the office doesn’t use the system at all. Shiara Dávila-Morales, a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office, confirmed that investigators attached to the office have access to CalGang.

Field officers also vary in how diligently they upload information to CalGang – a persistent dynamic since the database’s inception.
Jack Schaeffer, a San Diego police detective and vice president of the local police union, says he routinely reviews CalGang for information on suspects. He says the availability of information varies by department.

Jack Schaeffer, a San Diego police detective and vice president of the local police union, says he routinely reviews CalGang for information on suspects. He says the availability of information varies by department.Credit: Sandy Huffaker for Reveal

Jack Schaeffer, a San Diego police detective and vice president of the local police union, investigates several San Diego Crips sets, or groups claiming a broader gang affiliation. He said he routinely reviews CalGang for information on suspects, though he noted that the availability of information varies from department to department.

“Some agencies will plug things into the system,” he said, “while others won’t and have hard-copy files instead of digital files.”
Inaccurate info used as evidence

One of the CalGang critiques leveled by UCLA sociologist Ana Muñiz and ACLU of Southern California lawyer Peter Bibring is that the secrecy of information in the database and lack of external review of gang evidence can lead to inaccuracies in someone’s file.

The forthcoming state audit is expected to shed light on the training procedures for personnel who input individuals into the database, as well as documentation procedures and information sharing among law enforcement.

Incorrect information uploaded to CalGang already has found its way into court. For example, documentation of alleged gang member Daniel Antuñez, 26 – provided to the Orange County district attorney by police in Santa Ana – was used to include him in a civil injunction against the Townsend Street gang.

Antuñez has three brothers and grew up in the heart of the territory covered by the injunction. He also has dozens of documented contacts with police. But he claims that he is not a gang member and challenged his inclusion in the database with the assistance of the ACLU. On Feb. 5, the Orange County DA decided to drop its efforts to include Antuñez in the Townsend Street injunction, according to Caitlin Sanderson, an ACLU of Southern California staff attorney who represented Antuñez.

Antuñez’s Santa Ana file contains a field interview card on which the nickname and tattoos don’t match Antuñez – they match his twin brother, Sergio. Another field interview card included in the file clearly pertains to his youngest brother, David. Check boxes on the erroneous field interview cards note that they were uploaded to CalGang.

Jeff Launi, a Santa Ana gang detective who testified for the Orange County prosecutor as its expert witness on the Townsend Street gang, admitted in a September deposition that he had never met Daniel Antuñez and relied on the flawed documents to make his determination.

“Inaccuracies on the field interview cards and STEP notices we found in Daniel’s file likely means there are inaccuracies in his entry in CalGang,” Sanderson said.

She described law enforcement’s decision-making process about what constitutes gang evidence as haphazard and in need of outside scrutiny.

“It’s crucial that there’s some form of oversight and transparency in the collection of this information,” she said.

In the Los Angeles class action against gang injunctions, a declaration by Angel Gomez, a gang officer in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division – which includes the Mar Vista, Venice and Palms neighborhoods – revealed rampant inaccuracies in that division’s information on gang members.

“I would estimate that approximately 50% of the address information in our records for Pacific Division gang members is inaccurate at any given time,” Gomez’s declaration reads.

Bibring, the ACLU attorney, said the lack of rigor surrounding the documentation of gang members and associates, the building blocks of CalGang, opens the door for law enforcement officials to exaggerate the gang threat.

“There is a fiction of gangs being more organized than they actually are, which CalGang helps perpetuate,” he said. “It makes documented people easier to prosecute, (and) it makes the task of dealing with gang members easier in that you just put them away.”
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This story was co-produced through an editorial partnership with The Investigative Fund, a project of The Nation Institute. It was edited by Fernando Diaz, Amy Pyle and Esther Kaplan and copy edited by Sheela Kamath and Nikki Frick.

Ali Winston can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @awinston.

Top photo: San Diego native Aaron Harvey insists that he never has been affiliated with a gang. But in 2014, he was charged with nine counts of criminal street gang conspiracy for shootings that occurred when he wasn’t living in California. CREDIT: Sandy Huffaker for Rev

Motorcycle Clubs Still Legal, REPEATED BY REQUEST...


It is already 2015 and it still isn’t illegal to ride a motorcycle or belong to a motorcycle club. At least not technically.  Most of the government acts as if it is, though.
Here’s what’s happening at the beginning of the New Year.

Big Brother v. The Mongols MC

The Mongols Motorcycle Club has been under more or less constant legal attack since former government agent William Queen started hanging around the San Fernando Valley chapter of the club in 1998. In 2008 the Department of Justice brought a racketeering indictment against more than six dozen Mongols and former club president Ruben “Doc” Cavazos. Dozens more members had personal property seized and had to endure years of legal puffery to get it back. A central goal of the indictment was to seize the Mongols’ name and insignia. Police announced and the press reported that henceforth any cop in America could “rip” Mongols patches “off the backs” of any Mongol they encountered. It was an unconstitutional attempt to outlaw the club. Several federal judges ruled patch pulling by the authorities was unconstitutional.
But one of those judges, a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy named Otis D. Wright, suggested to prosecutors they might get around the Constitutional issue by indicting the club as a whole. So the same federal prosecutors who pursued the 2008 case, Christopher Brunwin and Steven Welk, are prosecuting a case called USA v. Mongol Nation. Brunwin and Welk intend to prove that the club promotes crime and protects criminals. Wright, who imagined the case, will preside over it by what the Central District asserts is pure luck. Long term, the government doesn’t have a chance of passing Constitutional muster, but that isn’t the point. The point of the case is to bankrupt the club with scurrilous prosecutions. The government has unlimited resources. The Mongols Motorcycle Club does not.
The Mongols trial begins March 24.

Big Brother v. David Martinez

The current racketeering case against the Mongols is weak. Most of the racketeering acts it alleges predate the 2008 case against the club and prosecutors are eager to pin something more recent on the Mongols. That is what led to a series of Swat raids in the early morning hours of October 28.
According to NBC, the raids on seven homes were part of an law enforcement effort “to head off retaliation by the Mongols against members of their longtime rival Hells Angels…as well as a sport bike club known as the G-Zer (pronounced ‘geezer’) Tribe, based in the East Los Angeles area. The motive for the payback appears to stem from at least two recent encounters between members of the three gangs on Los Angeles and Riverside County freeways in which Mongols members were shot at or pushed off their bikes. At least one Mongol member was killed, another was paralyzed and several others were wounded in the incidents, according to the sources.”
The affidavit underlying the search warrants was sealed to protect the identity of a confidential informant. The raids were also carried out in the middle of the night by militarized police in order to punish the occupants of the homes. The raid on Martinez’ home wouldn’t have attracted much publicity except that a Swat officer named Shaun Diamond died on Martinez’ front porch. Diamond was wearing body armor and a Kevlar “fritz” helmet at the time. He was, according to multiple police sources, shot in the back of the head. Almost everyone who has knowledge of the incident except prosecutors believe Diamond was killed by friendly fire. Police allege Marrtinez fired the shot that killed their man and they recovered the gun he used to do it.
Prosecutors have charged Martinez with first degree murder with enhancements that could put him on death row. He has been in jail for more than two months. His family tried to hire a private attorney but couldn’t afford to pay for one. Martinez next court appearance is scheduled for this Wednesday.

Big Brother v. The Hells Angels MC

The surreal trial of three Hells Angels named Timothy R. Bianchi, Nicholas F. Carrillo and Josh L. Johnson also resumes Wednesday in Lake County, California. The three men are accused of beating a member of the Vagos Motorcycle Club named Michael Anthony Burns at a tattoo convention in Lakeport, California in June 2011. The fight lasted about a minute. The legal case is now in its fourth year.
Burns suffered significant facial injuries and told police he had fallen. The initial investigator in the case, Lake County Sheriff’s Sergeant named Gary Frace, tried to close the case but was reprimanded by then Sheriff Francisco Rivero.
Rivero seems to have an obsession with the Hells Angels. A month before the fight at the tattoo convention, Rivero convinced himself that 150 Hells Angels were on their way to Lake County to rumble with a third as many Vagos. Rivero scrambled every cop in the county, deployed snipers and set up roadblocks to stop the imaginary pack of Angels.
Rivero’s obsession has been fed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Eventually the charges against the three defendants were amended to include a felony – aggravated assault. The felony made it possible to also charge the three Angels with a “gang enhancement.”
When the trial began last month, Lake County Deputy District Attorney Art Grothe told jurors, “I intend to show that when the individuals did what we allege they did, it was in benefit of and in furtherance of a criminal street gang, that is the Hells Angels,”
Sometime in the last 40 months the case ceased to be about a simple, if unfair fight, among four grown men and became a trial about what people think of the Hells Angels. The defendants are in effect being tried for the imaginary crime of belonging to a motorcycle club. The principal witness against the Hells Angels will be a biker expert named Jorge Gil-Blanco. Gil-Blanco specializes in testifying against Hells Angels. He will probably be the first witness called to the stand Wednesday. He may testify for up to a week and when he is done former Sheriff Rivero will tell the jury what he thinks.

Kinsgmen v. Kingsmen

The murders of two Kingsmen Motorcycle Club patch holders named Paul Maue and Daniel “DJ” Szymanski may begin to make sense to the general public before Spring. Police allege the two men were “executed” by a Kingsmen from Deland, Florida named Andre L. “Li’l Bear” Jenkins. Police haven’t revealed a plausible motive for the murders but they have said they broke the case with the help of an informant.
It is a curious incident of homicide about which it is easy to speculate. The press in Buffalo seems inclined to think of Jenkins as club assassin. The truth is probably stranger than that.
Jenkins is black and he is a relatively new to the biker scene. He was convicted of burglary and imprisoned in South Dakota for 12 years before his parole in 2010. He absconded from parole sometime after that, made his way to Florida, worked in a car wash and became a member of the Kingsmen’s Daytona Beach chapter.

There is an ongoing federal investigation of the murders. Jenkins has already been indicted on a federal charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm. And William J. Hochul, Jr., the United States Attorney for the Western District of New York told Dan Herbeck of the Buffalo News, “This charge is an important step in our investigation, but by no means is it the end of our investigation.” Herbeck also reported, “federal agents are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the September 6 murders of two bikers outside the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club clubhouse in North Tonawanda.”

Thursday, August 25, 2016

2015 National Gang Report - Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs

Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs
Definition: OMGs are ongoing organizations, associations or groups of three or more persons with a common interest or activity characterized by the commission of, or involvement in, a pattern of criminal conduct. Members must possess and be able to operate
a motorcycle to achieve and maintain membership within the group
Source: 2015 National Gang Report, page 22-27
The 2015 National Gang Report (NGR) presents an overview of current gang activities and trends in the United States. Intelligence in this report is derived primarily from a survey administered by the
National Alliance of Gang Investigators’ Associations (NAGIA) and from a second survey on Safe Streets and Gang Task Forces administered by the FBI Safe Streets and Gang Unit (SSGU). The quantitative data herein is supplemented by qualitative open source reports and reporting from federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement from across the nation.…/0BwARyffUmq8DUUpqRG02dGpGN…/view…..

babe of the day

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Bill to Create Guidelines on Lane Splitting is Signed into Law

(Bobby) Was camping when the announcement was made. Here is the official News Release from the Lane Splitting Educational Guidelines Legislative Author (AB 51) Bill Quirk.

I wish to thank the members of the United Motorcycle Clubs of Alameda County, Bay Area United Motorcycle Rider Coalition, American Motorcyclist Association, CityBike Magazine, Bay Area Riders Forum, ABATE of CA, MMA of CA, BRO of CA, BOLT of CA, MCANSG and all the independent riders who participated in the meetings in Hayward and Sacramento, conference calls between our workgroup and the author, co-author, chief of staff, the UC Berkeley contractor who developed and published the lane splitting study reports and those who made it to all the committee hearings.

This was a truly collaborative effort that resulted in codifying the practice of lane splitting in CA, setting a model for other states to follow, and also demonstrates that if we work towards common goals together, the biker community can achieve positive results.

Bill to Create Guidelines on Lane Splitting is Signed into Law

SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Quirk (D-Hayward) and Assemblymember Tom Lackey (R- Palmdale) have successfully granted the California Highway Patrol (CHP) authority to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting.

Lane splitting, which occurs when a motorcycle drives between rows of stopped or moving traffic, is a gray area in California law. This is because statute is silent – California does not explicitly allow it, but also doesn’t explicitly prohibit this behavior.

Recognizing the need to develop guidelines as an education tool for drivers, the CHP convened a committee of traffic safety stakeholders and motorcycle safety experts in 2012. However, an individual filed a complaint that the guidelines were underground regulations. At the suggestion of counsel, CHP removed the guidelines from its website and the Department of Motor Vehicles removed them from the Motorcycle Handbook.

“Removal of the guidelines left a huge gap with regards to traffic safety. CHP had to curtail all education and outreach efforts on lane splitting,” Assemblymember Quirk explained. Last year he partnered with Assemblymember Lackey, a retired California Highway Patrolman, to introduce Assembly Bill (AB) 51.

AB 51 clarifies that the CHP does have authority to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting. It further asks that they convene a group of stakeholders to provide their expert opinion in the drafting of the guidelines. “There are motorcyclists that lane split safely and others that disregard all safety considerations – those are the drivers this bill will help the most,” Assemblymember Quirk stated.

“California took a groundbreaking step today as the first state to formally allow motorcycle lane splitting,” said Assemblymember Lackey. “More importantly, we are now giving riders and motorists clear guidance on when it is safe. This is a huge win for roadway safety.”

“I am thrilled to see that California, is once again, at the forefront of common-sense road safety legislation. Signing of this bill will bring legitimacy to this practice and help to keep our roads safer and our drivers – both motorcyclists and motorists – better educated.” Assemblymember Quirk commented upon learning his bill was signed.


Elected in 2012, Bill Quirk brings his PhD in astrophysics and career as an educator and scientist to the State Assembly. He is the Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on California’s Clean Energy Economy, and a member of the Assembly Committees on Agriculture, Appropriations, Public Safety, Revenue & Taxation, Rules, and Utilities & Commerce.

Website of Assemblymember Quirk:

Chief of Staff
Assembly Member Bill Quirk (D-20)
State Capitol Room 2163
Sacramento, CA 95814
P: 916.319.2020
F: 916.319.2120


Bill to shed light on California’s gang database moves forward


Legislation that would open California’s gang database to more public scrutiny advanced in the state Assembly today, despite significant opposition from law enforcement.

The bill – AB 2298 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego – aims to provide adults with the right to be notified – and to appeal – if they are included in CalGang, remove people from the database if they go three years without a gang-related conviction and require the California Department of Justice to produce an annual report on the program.

The secretive database currently includes more than 150,000 people – the vast majority of them Latino or black –entered by local law enforcement agencies based on criteria such as tattoos, gang-related clothing or admission of gang involvement to an officer. Adults never know whether they have been documented, yet can face harsher punishment if they are arrested later for a crime.

Weber’s effort, which cleared the Assembly Public Safety Committee by a 5-2 vote, would expand on 2013 legislation that provided juveniles and their parents with the right to be notified of and appeal their gang documentation. In her remarks to the committee, Weber talked about the database’s impact on black and Latino communities, arguing that the criteria it relies on is overbroad and subjective.

    You can be documented as a gang member without ever having committed a crime.”— Aaron Harvey
    San Diego man who says he should not be in CalGang

“The whole issue of developing gang lists without people even being notified that they’re on a gang list reeks of the McCarthy era,” she said, referencing the anticommunist tactics of U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy.

“Gang suppression strategies’ employment by law enforcement, including gang databases, have existed in California for over 30 years without consistency or transparency in their application, without meaningful data reporting and without any assessment of their impact on the criminalization of youth and communities of color,” she said.

Sponsors of the bill include the Youth Justice Coalition, Urban Peace Institute, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and National Immigration Law Center. A raft of law enforcement organizations are opposed, including the California District Attorneys Association, California State Sheriffs’ Association, Los Angeles County Professional Peace Officers Association and California Narcotic Officers Association.

The first to speak in favor of the legislation was Aaron Harvey, a San Diego man who faced and beat criminal street gang conspiracy charges in a series of 2014 shootings, stemming from allegations that he was affiliated with the Lincoln Park Bloods. Harvey, who denies he is a gang member, was in Las Vegas at the time and faced criminal charges because gang detectives with the San Diego Police Department previously had recorded him as a gang member.

Harvey introduced himself to the committee as “a real-life example of the destruction that documentation can cause in a person’s life,” highlighting his arrest and the eight months he spent in jail while awaiting trial.

“Being documented as a gang member can impact where you can live, what services can be provided to you, where you can travel to, educational opportunities and who you can associate with,” Harvey said. “And remember, you can be documented as a gang member without ever having committed a crime.”
Aaron Harvey, who spoke at an Assembly committee hearing today in favor of opening up California’s gang database to more public scrutiny, said he was “a real-life example of the destruction that documentation can cause in a person’s life,” highlighting his arrest and the eight months he spent in jail while awaiting trial.

Aaron Harvey, who spoke at an Assembly committee hearing today in favor of opening up California’s gang database to more public scrutiny, said he was “a real-life example of the destruction that documentation can cause in a person’s life,” highlighting his arrest and the eight months he spent in jail while awaiting trial.Credit: Sandy Huffaker for Reveal

Josh Green, an attorney with the Urban Peace Institute in Los Angeles who has helped youth challenge their inclusion in the database, also testified in support of AB 2298. Green argued that the criteria for being entered into CalGang “is extremely low,” and “in some neighborhoods, those criteria are the day-to-day experience of residents.”

Citing a 2013 ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, he pointed to its finding that “determining whether an individual is an active gang member presents a considerable risk of error.”

Green also said applicants for immigration relief under the federal DREAM Act can be identified as gang-affiliated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement through CalGang, which immigration authorities regularly access. People who apply for immigration relief and are documented as gang members “might have their (DREAM Act) application denied, but might also be flagged as a high priority for deportation,” he said.

Sean Hoffman, a lobbyist for the California District Attorneys Association, said adult notification would create a cumbersome and burdensome appeals process for law enforcement and would be “like letting suspects view evidence being collected against them before we decide to file charges.”

Hoffman said his organization also had concerns about the three-year expungement requirement, which is shorter than some police departments’ own criteria.

Asha Harris, who spoke on behalf of the California State Sheriffs’ Association, said the changes would undermine public safety “by informing gang members and their associates they are under investigation.” She said the state sheriffs hadn’t opposed the 2013 effort for juvenile notification, but see adult notification as a threat to a valuable investigative tool.

AB 2298 will next go before the Assembly Appropriations Committee. A similar effort to provide adult notification and appeal for gang documentation, SB 829, failed in its second committee hearing last spring.

A state audit already underway is expected to shed light on training of personnel who input individuals into the database, as well as documentation procedures and information sharing among law enforcement agencies.

Statistics Prove Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs Not A Public Threat

Authorities openly target motorcycle clubs, particularly 1% clubs, selectively enforcing the law, in order to harass or investigate individuals based on the belief that they are definitionally criminals. This perspective is based on an outdated stereotype that is ignorant of statistical reality and foundational constitutional principles that have been consistently confirmed by the Supreme Court and other federal courts.

Many federal and state authorities insist that what they call “outlaw motorcycle gangs/OMG’s” are a significant organized crime threat in America, despite the statistical data that proves criminal activity involving these clubs is negligible at best. (Note: the OMG tag is universally rejected by the clubs labeled gangs by law enforcement.)

Tens of millions of dollars are spent targeting and prosecuting motorcycle clubs based on a fallacy of composition. The regurgitated actions of the few are used to create a generalized assumption about thousands of people, regardless of statistical reality. Crimes committed by individual members of motorcycle clubs are highly sensationalized and presented to be representative of the entire community.  In fact, the statistical data that does exist, including the data generated by these same agencies, proves definitively that clubs labeled OMG’s represent a myopic percentage of criminal activity in this country.  Indeed, data suggests that law enforcement agencies commit and sanction many more major crimes than motorcycle clubs.

The Numbers

To begin to paint an accurate picture it is necessary to know how many members of these clubs and convicted felons there are in the US. Statistics say that there are 44,000 members of clubs labeled OMG’s, 24,000,000 convicted felons, and 6,851,000 whom are currently under correctional supervision.

  • The FBI’s National Gang Intelligence Center estimates that there are 44,000 members of so-called OMG’s in the U.S. According to the NGIC, “OMGs are organizations whose members use their motorcycle clubs as conduits for criminal enterprises. Although some law enforcement agencies regard only One Percenters as OMGs, the NGIC, for the purpose of this assessment, covers all OMG criminal organizations, including OMG support and puppet clubs.”

  • According to the Princeton University study, GROWTH IN THE U.S. EX-FELON AND EX-PRISONER POPULATION, 1948 TO 2010, 20 million people in 2010 had a felony conviction. Accounting for growth rates, there were approximately 24 million people in 2014 with a felony conviction.

  • According to the US Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), 6,851,000 adults were under correctional supervision (probation, parole, jail, or prison) in 2014. (see BJS, “Correctional Populations In The United States, 2014”)

Statistical Reality- Outlaw Motorcycle Clubs Members a very small fraction of convicted felons in the US.

Although there is no statistical data tracking the number of motorcycle club members who are convicted felons, law enforcement would have you believe that all members of clubs they have labeled OMG’s are criminals.

Despite the obvious inaccuracy of this claim,- most members of clubs labeled OMG’s have no criminal record- let us assume for the sake of argument, and to demonstrate the absurdity of law enforcement assumptions, that every member of every club that authorities label a criminal gang is a convicted felon.

Even if all 44,000 members of clubs labeled OMG’s were convicted felons, the overall impact on felony convictions would be minuscule. Do the math. 44,000 members/24,000,000 convicted felons=0.00183333 or .183333%.  The impact on those currently under correctional supervision would be similarly insignificant. 44,000 members/6,851,000 currently under supervision=0.00642242 or .64%. A fraction of 1% does not justify the stereotype of criminality. It’s that simple.  The following Pie Chart graphically demonstrates the absurdity of focusing on motorcycle clubs as a law enforcement priority.

Actual Number of Convicted Felons Among Clubs Labeled OMG’s

Although the NGIC estimates the number of members, no data on how many members are actually convicted felons is available.  On August 2, 2016 the MPP conducted a short survey with a small national sampling to generate data on the issue.  The survey data is derived solely from motorcycle clubs labeled OMG’s by law enforcement.   The survey asked two questions; 1- number of members in your Chapter; and 2- number of convicted felons in your Chapter.

Survey Results:

# of Chapters included in Survey: 5 (States surveyed include Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, and Maryland.)

Average Number of members: 15
Average number of Convicted Felons per Chapter: 3 or 20%

15/3 WA
16/4 OR
14/3 TX
14/1 MD
16/4 CA

The survey results revealed that there was an average of 1 convicted felon in 5, or 20%.  Although the above example, which counts every member of targeted clubs as convicted felons, demonstrates that clubs definitionally have a minimal crime print, 20% of members is a far more realistic projection than 100%.  20% of 44,000 = 8,800 club members that are convicted felons.  8,800 represents an almost non-existent 0.036% of the 24,000,0000 total convicted felons in the US.

Why Are There Felons In Motorcycle Clubs?

Options in society for most felons are extremely limited in terms of employment and some basic civil liberties and often felons feel rejected and stigmatized by society. Motorcycle club culture was created by individuals that had been rejected by society after having returned home from war. Motorcycle clubs provide an opportunity for reintegration to those released from incarceration without the constraints of a judgmental mainstream.

The motorcycle club world is a classless society in terms of mainstream establishment social hierarchy.  It doesn’t matter whether you’re a common laborer or an executive.  When you walk into the club world, status is dictated by respect and honor and not your education or job title.  Club culture provides an alternative way of life free from the condemnations of the mainstream. Everyone has to live by the same legal schematic. But not everyone has to reinforce or acknowledge mainstream social hierarchies or elitist behavior.

Note: Some crimes are definitionally despicable and individuals that have committed these crimes are not accepted, or they are ostracized, from the club community. Crimes targeting children are an example of such an offense.

Hypocrisy Defined: LE Authorizes Informants To Commit Thousands of Major Crimes Annually

For decades, law enforcement agencies have authorized informants to commit major crimes.  Labeled “otherwise illegal activity”, these sanctioned major crimes are considered to be necessary for undercover informant work.  But, aside from the FBI, “otherwise illegal activity” has not been quantified by other state and federal agencies.

In 1997, according to the criminal defense firm O’Brien Hatfield, PA, “It came to light when reporters revealed the FBI had authorized mobster “Whitey” Bulger to continue his criminal enterprise long after he became an FBI informant in 1975. Since that revelation, the U.S. Attorney General has required the FBI to keep reports on “otherwise illegal activity” by its “confidential human sources.”

But obtaining these reports has proven difficult over the years. At least until members of the press were able to obtain some quantifiable numbers from the FBI. The Huffington Post Reported on December 27,2013:

“In a Jan. 14, 2013, letter to Justice Department officials, obtained by The Huffington Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, FBI officials disclosed that its 56 field offices authorized informants to break the law at least 5,939 times during the 2012 calendar year. USA Today reported earlier this year that the bureau allowed its informants to break the law 5,658 times in 2011.”

O’Brien Hatfield explains that the reports “indicate the otherwise illegal activities were considered Tier I and Tier II violations. The Justice Department defines a Tier I violation as activity that would be criminal if not for the authorization of a federal prosecutor, and includes major crimes such as drug trafficking, public corruption and crimes of violence. Tier II violations aren’t necessarily less serious but can authorized by a senior FBI field manager.”

“Unfortunately, other law enforcement agencies are not required to keep such reports, although it is widely assumed that all levels of law enforcement allow informants to commit crimes during investigations”, says O’Brien Hatfield.

Annually, nearly 6,000 major crimes are being authorized by the FBI alone. Considering that all levels of law enforcement authorize criminal acts, the actual numbers would be truly staggering.

All levels of law enforcement sanction informants to commit major crimes in order to arrest and convict other individuals for committing these same crimes. This hypocrisy overwhelms the amount of criminal activity in the club community many times over.

Study Proves Police Commit More Felonies Than Outlaw Bikers

Police officers are arrested about 1,100 times a year, or roughly three officers charged every day, according to a new national study, thought to be the first-ever nationwide look at police crime, conducted by researchers at Bowling Green State University through a grant from the Justice Department’s National Institute of Justice.

The most common crimes were simple assault, aggravated assault, and significant numbers of sex crimes. About 72 percent of officers (825 annually) charged in cases with known outcomes are convicted, more than 40 percent of the crimes are committed on duty.

The number of convicted felons in clubs labeled OMG’s, as explained above, is approximately 8,800 total. The number of convicted cops over the last 11 years, according to the only data that exists, is 9,075. (825 convicted cops per year x 11 years). More cops have been convicted of felonies in the last 11 years than the total number of felons in clubs law enforcement labels OMG’s.

This is hypocrisy at the highest level. Statistically, without bias, police are more of a threat to public safety than outlaw motorcycle clubs have ever been.

Conclusions: Motorcycle Clubs Are Not A National Law Enforcement Issue.

Considered in context with data suggesting law enforcement is a larger contributor to crime, the analysis leaves no doubt that clubs targeted by law enforcement are targeted based on stereotype as opposed to statistical reality.  The vastly expensive surveillance, investigations, harassment and profiling campaigns conducted by authorities are simply not justified based on the irrefutable statistical reality that motorcycle clubs mathematically have a negligible to non-existent impact on the level and magnitude of felony crime in the United States.

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About the Author

is the Spokesperson for the Washington State Council of Clubs, Founder of the Motorcycle Profiling Project, and works with motorcyclists at the national level. Contact: Send Email,

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Motorcycle lane splitting is officially legal in California

OFF THE WIRE…/la-pol-sac-essential-politics-upda…                                                                                          Motorcycle lane splitting is officially legal in California

Neither explicitly legal nor illegal, lane-splitting has had the tacit approval of the California Highway Patrol and the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Lori Shepler / Los Angeles Times)
California's motorcyclists could soon have clear rules on lane splitting after the state on Friday became the first in the nation to formally legalize the practice.
Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation by Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) that defines the practice and authorizes the California Highway Patrol to establish rules for motorcyclists on how to do it safely.
Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale), a retired state highway patrol sergeant who co-wrote the bill, called the new law a "groundbreaking step."
"This is a huge win for roadway safety,” Lackey said in a statement. "We are now giving riders and motorists clear guidance on when it is safe."
Lane splitting, in which a motorcyclist passes other vehicles by riding between them along the lane line, has long been a controversial issue.
Technically, it has not been legal or illegal, falling in a gray area where it was treated as acceptable by law enforcement agencies. But when the CHP published guidelines on the practice in 2015, a citizen complained that the agency should not be allowed to create public policy. In came AB 51.
Quirk's original bill proposed that lane splitting could occur legally only when a motorcycle was moving no more than 15 mph faster than the traffic around it, and it prohibited the practice at speeds above 50 mph.
Several motorcyclists' groups objected to that, saying the limit was too low. Other groups and individuals, who believe that lane splitting is dangerous regardless of speed, objected to the proposal entirely.
The revised bill, which sailed through the legislative process, provides a basic definition of "lane splitting" and leaves the rest to the CHP. Quirk has said it has many benefits, including reducing traffic congestion and promoting safety.
"I am thrilled to see that California is once again at the forefront of common-sense road safety legislation,” Quirk said. "Signing of this bill will bring legitimacy to this practice and help to keep our roads safer and our drivers – both motorcyclists and motorists – better educated.”


Monday, August 22, 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016


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Saturday, August 20, 2016


California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that takes a step toward condoning the practice of lane splitting, in which motorcyclists drive between two lanes of vehicles.

The Democratic governor's signature on Friday allows the California Highway Patrol to develop guidelines, but it stops short of explicitly authorizing the practice.

Lane splitting is in a legal gray area in California, though law enforcement has long permitted it.

The CHP published educational guidelines on lane-splitting in 2013, but regulators later ruled the agency had no authority to make public policy.

The Assembly voted in May to explicitly allow it with a 50-mph speed limit, but the Senate watered down the bill before approving it unanimously.

The bill was written by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, a Hayward Democrat, and Tom Lackey, a Palmdale Republican.


California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed legislation that takes a step toward condoning the practice of lane splitting, in which motorcyclists drive between two lanes of vehicles.

The Democratic governor's signature on Friday allows the California Highway Patrol to develop guidelines, but it stops short of explicitly authorizing the practice.

Lane splitting is in a legal gray area in California, though law enforcement has long permitted it.

The CHP published educational guidelines on lane-splitting in 2013, but regulators later ruled the agency had no authority to make public policy.

The Assembly voted in May to explicitly allow it with a 50-mph speed limit, but the Senate watered down the bill before approving it unanimously.

The bill was written by Assemblyman Bill Quirk, a Hayward Democrat, and Tom Lackey, a Palmdale Republican.


“Motorcycle Enforcement Operations” or Discriminatory Treatment?

Before I go on a rant here, I highly recommend Attorney Bill Weiss for all your personal injury and civil rights case needs. He is a rare breed that gives much of himself to motorcycle riders and the local community, not just chasing down ambulances like other attorneys who claim to defend biker rights. And so it goes without those that support you.
First, these so-called motorcycle safety enforcement operations are funded by the CA Office of Traffic Safety via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These programs are attractive to local LEA's because they provide OT for officers. The hook is, there are a number of requirements attached to the award such as (but not limited to) gathering statistics on traffic infractions, arrests, etc...and... the illusion of results.
There were previously called Motorcycle Only Checkpoints, but since California, other states and even some lawmakers at the national level saw this as discriminatory, pushing back with legislation and policy changes, these programs were changed to "safety" operations. So, whenever, a state looks to prohibit a discriminatory program, legislative language needs to be broad and tight enough to ensure that the government can't just simply sidestep it by renaming the program and making a few tweeks to circumvent it.
LEA's choose a location in their local area with a high motorcycle accident history (supposably), saturate the area, write a ton of tickets for assorted VC infractions, then go on their way to writeup their results so that they can be eligible for future funding. The question for us the public is, what real, tangible results are these programs actually achieving? How are these infrequent, random efforts driving down rider risk to themselves or others and educating folks? What is the return for our tax dollar investment? I can tell you that in addition to the OT the officers are making, cities and counties also benefit from the citations and arrests made. In other words, these programs seem to financially benefit the government while providing no real benefit for riders - just court/citation fees, lawyers if necessary, lost time at work, possible license suspensions, the pain of DUI charges of that is the case AND possible constitutional violations.
As for the notion of infringements on biker rights... It is a well known practice by LEO's to use these as pretextual stops that go beyond the primary mission of the program to criminal/penal code investigations where they detain, question, search and sometimes arrest riders for other reasons that have nothing to do with motorcycle safety or vehicle code.
This is where the problem is, infringement of rider's 4th amendment rights under the guise of safety and or vehicle code. Many can argue that this is, by definition....Motorcycle Profiling. The violations are even more apparent when members of motorcycle clubs are involved.

“Motorcycle Enforcement Operations” or Discriminatory Treatment?
Numerous cities across the state of California have recently been holding so-called “Motorcycle Safety Enforcement Operations,” and some cities have even permanently added law enforcement officers to their streets who are tasked with enforcing motorcycle safety. Whether these officers are truly focused on motorcycle safety, or whether they are examples of illegal discrimination against motorcycle riders, is up for debate.
The City of Napa is just one of the many California cities which have publicized recent motorcycle enforcement operations. These operations ostensibly target areas where a high number of motorcycle-related crashes have occurred, and will crack down on behavior of both motorcyclists and passenger vehicle drivers that could cause motorcycle collisions, such as drunken driving, high rates of speed, and unsafe turning. The goal of these operations, according to law enforcement press releases, is to reduce the number of injuries and deaths resulting from motorcycle collisions.
Taking it a step further, the City of Newport Beach has added an officer to its police force who will implement a motorcycle safety program. The position was funded by a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration grant to the California Office of Traffic and Safety; riders can expect to see similarly-funded programs pop up across the state. Newport Beach’s officer will focus on patrolling areas where a large number of motorcycle collisions occur, looking for riders using smartphone handsets or who appear to be under the influence, and watching for other forms of dangerous driving. Newport Beach Police insist that enforcement and education will focus on both passenger vehicle drivers and bikers alike.
While motorcycle-only checkpoints have been illegal in California for some time, the US Congress passed a law in December of 2015 making it illegal for local law enforcement to spend federal funds on motorcycle-only checkpoints. While these motorcycle safety programs do not hold themselves out as being motorcycle checkpoints, one could argue that tasking an officer with “motorcycle safety enforcement” would have a discriminatorily high impact on motorcycle riders in comparison to car and truck drivers.
For club members with three-piece patches, these operations may provide police with an opportunity to stop them and question them at length about their club, attempt to take pictures of club members and any tattoos they have, etc.  This is why it is recommended that you try to video/audio record any such stops. There is now good case law that stops which last longer than necessary to accomplish their purposes (such as a motorcycle safety program stop or traffic citation) violate the 4th amendment.

If you believe you have experienced unfair discriminatory treatment by law enforcement as a motorcycle rider in California, ensure that your rights as a licensed biker are protected and contact the Bay Area motorcycle law attorney William Weiss for a consultation on your case, at 415-362-6765. 

Lane splitting is officially legal in California

Sami Gallegos, KXTV
California is now the first state to formally legalize lane splitting for motorcyclists.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill Friday to allow motorcyclists to move around stopped or slow moving traffic, under certain conditions.

Under the legislation authored by Assemblymember Bill Quirk, (D - Hayward), California Highway Patrol will create guidelines on lane splitting, in collaboration with other agencies and organizations involved with road safety and motorcyclist behavior.

In 2014, the Los Angeles Times reported the state Department of Motor Vehicles and the California Highway Patrol removed their safety guidelines on the quasi-illegal practice after a Sacramento-based man filed a complaint on the practice.

Those guideline were crafted by CHP in 2013, after convening a committee of traffic safety stakeholders and motorcycle safety experts. Five recommendations for lane splitting contained in the previous safety guidelines:

   1. Lane splitting should occur only when a motorcyclist is traveling at a speed no more than 10 mph        faster than surrounding traffic.
    2 .Motorcyclists should refrain from lane splitting when the traffic is flowing at a speed of 30 mph         or faster.
   3. Lane splitting should occur between the first and second lanes over other lanes.
   4. Total environment should be considered by the motorcyclist when lane splitting occurs, including          the lane width, size of surrounding vehicles, weather and lighting.
   5. Motorcyclists should be alert and anticipate possible movements of other road users.

Lane-splitting is legal in many European and Asian counties that, according to a Senate Transportation Committee analysis on Quirk's bill, allow lane-splitting in highly urbanized areas.

Copyright 2016 KXTV

Friday, August 19, 2016

EPA Slaps Harley-Davidson with $12 Million Fine

Posted By BikersPost+

Harley-Davidson Inc (HOG.N) agreed to pay a $12 million civil fine and stop selling illegal after-market devices that cause its motorcycles to emit too much pollution, the U.S. Justice Department said on Thursday.

The settlement resolves government allegations that Harley sold roughly 340,000 "super tuners" enabling motorcycles since 2008 to pollute the air at levels greater than what the Milwaukee-based company certified to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Harley did not admit liability, and said in a statement it disagrees with the government's position arguing that the devices were designed and sold to be used in "competition only."

The company said the settlement represents "a good faith compromise with the EPA on areas of law we interpret differently, particularly EPA's assertion that it is illegal for anyone to modify a certified vehicle even if it will be used solely for off-road/closed-course competition."

An EPA spokesman said that the vast majority of these tuners were used on public roads.

According to the government, the sale of such "defeat devices" violates the federal Clean Air Act. Harley was also accused of selling more than 12,600 motorcycles that were not covered by an EPA certification governing clean air compliance.

The settlement calls for Harley to stop selling the super tuners by Aug. 23, and buy back and destroy all such tuners in stock at its dealerships. EPA said the modified settings increase power and performance, but also increase the motorcycles’ emissions of hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides.

Harley must also deny warranty claims if owners continue to use the devices. An EPA spokesman said the company's dealers are not part of this action, but "if they are tampering or selling defeat devices on their own, then they could be investigated independently in the future."

Harley will also spend $3 million on an unrelated project to reduce air pollution, the Justice Department said.

"Given Harley-Davidson’s prominence in the industry, this is a very significant step toward our goal of stopping the sale of illegal after-market defeat devices that cause harmful pollution on our roads and in our communities," John Cruden, head of the Justice Department's environmental and natural resources division, said in a statement.

The announcement comes amid greater scrutiny on emissions and "defeat devices" by U.S. regulators after Volkswagen AG (VOWG_p.DE) admitted to using illegal software to evade U.S. emissions standards in nearly 600,000 U.S. vehicles.

"This settlement immediately stops the sale of illegal after-market defeat devices used on public roads that threaten the air we breathe," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance.

Harley must obtain a certification from the California Air Resources Board for any tuners it sells in the United States in the future. For any super tuners that Harley-Davidson sells outside the United States in the future, it must label them as not for use in the United States.

In a separate statement, the company said it has sold the product for more then 20 years under an accepted regulatory approach that permitted the sale of competition-only parts and said it believed it was legal to use in race conditions in the United States.

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