Saturday, October 4, 2014
The Biggest Threat To Our Community...And Our Liberty
There is a motorcycle club in California that is undergoing a legal attack by the federal government. This isn't exactly newsworthy in and of itself, because the government has regularly tried to "crush" the clubs by using different statutes over the years. Each time they fail, it is only a matter of time before there is another attempt, using the lessons learned from the previous failures. This time however, the lesson was given by the presiding judge, and taken to heart by the government. Now I am not a legal expert, an attorney, or anything like that. I am merely stating what little I have been able to glean from this situation, and what it seems to mean to me.
Originally, the Feds indicted several members of the Mongols Nation, and the government began to seize items with the Clubs logo on it. The idea behind this was to destroy the Clubs sense of unity by seizing all the common identifying markings that belonged to the Club. Basically, anything that had the Clubs patch on it was open to seizure. After a member had personal property that he had bought with his own money seized, he sued in court. He had not been indicted, yet his property was being seized. The judge agreed, and overturned the seizures. But then, in its remarks as the Court rendered its decision, the Judge told the government how to be able to get around the problem that they had found themselves in. Not to indict individual members, but the entire Club as a "criminal association".
Which is what the feds did. They indicted not people, but the organization, the association. Now it is irrelevent whether or not you were indicted. The Club as a whole has been indicted. The federal government is trying to seize all items with the trademarks of the Club. Trying to seize and destroy the Club by taking its identity. Whether it is a members private property or property of the Club, no longer matters. It it has the Clubs logo or other trademarks on it, there is a possibility it can be seized to hurt the Club. Whether it is a vest with Club patch, a bike with the Clubs logo, or a car or truck. If it has the Clubs insignia on it, then it appears to be liable and open to seizure.
Why is this such a big threat? There are a few reasons. I'll go over some of them as best I can. Then think about it for yourselves, and put yourselves in the position of having to defend yourself from the government seizing your property because it has the trademark of an association that a government agency deems to be a problem to be eliminated. This whole case is about the government trying to seize control of all identifying trademarks of the group. The symbols that the group uses to distinguish itself from all others. The symbols that the association uses to identify its members from non-members. So the government is trying to make it illegal to associate with others who wish to assemble together for a mutually satisfying purpose...or so it appears to me. But wait a minute, doesn't the Bill of Rights provide for the Right to "peaceably assemble"?
If the government is going after the "association" as a criminal entity because of possible criminal activities of a group of members, and declaring all members criminals by association, does this not violate the First Amendment of the US Constitution? If this standard was applied to law enforcement, how many police forces in the nation would be free from having all their members property with a police trademark seized? Not many I am sure.
Also, by indicting the organization, the federal agencies are trying, it appears to me to circumvent the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution giving citizens "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath of affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." The feds are trying to seize anything that bears the trademark of the organization in order to destroy the identity of the group. Using as probable cause the fact you are a member of the group to issue warrants to seize your personal property because it has the organizations logo on a patch, or a sticker in the window, or painted onto the metalwork of your vehicle. Seize enough property, and members may not wish to associate with the organization anymore...thus destroying the group.
Can you imagine the uproar in todays society if these tactics were used against say, Green Peace? Seizing the property of those people showing the logo of Green Peace on their clothing, their cars, their homes. Or for that matter, if another organization was deemed too dangerous for the taste of some government agency who indicted the organization because some of its members may be invovled in some form of "criminal activity". Can you imagine the NRA becoming the target of such tasctics? The NRA logo is a trademark, as is the logo of Green Peace, as is the Club patch. If the government is allowed to; indict an organization for the activities of some of its members, and seize all property bearing the trademarked logo, then what is to stop the government from doing it again? Having set the legal precendent of being able to violate the First Amendments right to "peaceably assemble", and the Fourth Amendments Right against illegal search and seizures, what is to stop them from proceeding further and restricting or ignoring other cicil rights?
Have you ever really known the government to willingly give up power and control? This fight isn't about one motorcycle club. This fight is about the right to belong to any association, or organization, or fellowship you wish to. Without fear of your property being seized by a overzealous police agency that doesn't approve of what your group stands for. As I stated before, how many people from Green Peace would continue to support the organizations often law breaking activities and protests, if a government agency indicted the organization as a 'criminal entity' and put their own property were at risk of seizure simply because it bore the Green Peace logo?
No organization can be 100% good, or 100% bad. Because people are not 100% good or bad. As long as the government is allowed to continue with this sort of behavior, the future looks grim. The only way we can fight this, and keep it from happening again, is by supporting the club in their court fight. Writing to your Congressman, or steate Legislator won't do any good. It is all in the hands of the Federal Courts. Since it was a Federal Judge who instructed the agency on how best to create their case, it is going to be an uphill fight. If you want to support this fight to help ensure our freedoms and liberties, go to the US Defenders website, and learn more about this problem. You can also read more about this case, and the legal ramifications of this can of worms if it is allowed to be opened, by reading the information about this case involving "Intellectual Property Rights" and how the ATF is trying to destroy those rights.
It doesn't matter what patch is on your back, on your bike, your truck, or your home. If the government wins this case, and a government agency is allowed to say that group is a criminal association, you could lose it all. Think about it. The old saying; "United, We Stand...Divided, We Fall" I don't think has ever been as appropriate as it is now.
Catch you on the road sometime...