The situation in Waco, Texas, has really brought home how desperately we here in Washington State need to put some teeth into our Motorcycle Anti-Profiling Law. The widespread and blanket arrests of virtually anyone wearing motorcycle "paraphernalia" in Waco should be an eye opening shock to all those who think the law passed here in Washington in 2012 doesn't matter. Many in Washington law enforcement consider the Anti-Profiling law to be meaningless.
That is why they still think it is alright to ban Americans wearing "motorcycle club/association, and support patches and clothing" from events. As was done at the Smoke Out/Choke Out in Yakima, Washington last July. That is, until enough of a hue and cry was raised across the state that the City's Police Chief finally backed down, and rescinded the ban. That is why, county and state fairs, and other "public events" will take the admittance fee from "bikers", then once they are inside security will come and tell them to remove their vests and any Club paraphernalia, or leave. With no refund of their admittance price. The only reason they are being told to vacate the premises is because they are wearing motorcycle club insignia, and patches.
Or stopping every rider in a pack riders, then photographing club patches and attempting to gather 'intelligence' against the Clubs as they run each person for wants and warrants, and detaining the entire group on site. Until finally releasing those that aren't wearing any Club insignia stating that law enforcement was conducting an "investigation", but not stating what the investigation was in regards to. The only reason those individuals were released was, as they were told; "We don't have anything to hold you on." Yet eventually all the members of the group were released, and allowed to proceed as they were. However only the Club members in the group were given a citation for some vague, minor traffic infraction.
While our Anti-Profiling Law states it is illegal to "profile" an individual because of several characteristics. There is no real motivation for law enforcement to obey the law. If they break it, there is nothing that is going to happen to them beyond a possible slap on the wrist. Only a long drawn out Civil case is left as a recourse against the law enforcement agency and officer who violated the law.
|Photo by Rod Aydelotte, Waco-Tribune Herald|
In Texas, more than 170 bikers were arrested for no reason other than attending a publicly promoted political event, when violence broke out. Even though almost half of the fatalities were cause by law enforcement. The real reason they were arrested? They were bikers, and to Waco PD, that meant they were members of 'criminal biker gangs'. Members of 'organized crime', bad people who exercised their Fifth Amendment Right to remain silent, and "didn't act like victims". All because they were bikers and wore cuts and patches. Washington State needs to put some teeth into its "Motorcycle Anti-Profiling" law so that this sort of thing cannot happen here. Take a look at this photo above. That is only a small part of those arrested in Waco. Can any of you imagine what it would be like if there was violence at some event here in Washington, and every biker there was questioned and then arrested felony charges because they were bikers?
If you are like me, and want to see Washingtons motorcycle community better protected, then contact your legislators and tell them you want our Motorcycle Anti-Profiling law to have some effective deterrence to law enforcement violating the law. Even though the law was passed with relatively great fanfare in 2012, many law enforcement agencies in Washington ignore the law because it won't do anything to them if they violate it. That is why there have been incidents like the ones in Yakima, the Tri-Cities, Puyallup, and elsewhere. As it is now, at worst, law enforcement is liable to receive a slap on the wrist for violating the Anti-Profiling law. When law enforcement pays little or no attention to a law, and continues to violate it because they feel it "doesn't mean anything", it is time to put some meaning into it. If that means replacing a slap on the wrist with a hickory axe handle to the kneecaps, so be it. May, just maybe, law enforcement in Washington will begin to actually abide by the laws they are sworn to enforce. It is up to us to get our legislators to move forward on this issue. Without the motorcycle community pushing them, they will be happy to sit on their laurels and be proud of passing the first Motorcycle Anti-Profiling Law in the US. Now we need to give this toothless law some dentures so it has enough of a bite that law enforcement will take it seriously.
Catch you on the road sometime...