Patch Policing - Occurs when representatives of outlaw MC organizations attempt to threaten, intimidate, or harm members of law-abiding motorcycle clubs who wear the patches of their choice without asking “permission” from “dominant” MCs who do not recognize the rule of law that the rest of us live under.
The practice of patch policing originated in the outlaw mc community to control growth and competition among motorcycle clubs. Most often it was done to control the various monetary enterprises and territories against intrusion by newcomers. Organizations called Confederation of Cubs or Coalition of Clubs (COC) headed by outlaw MC organizations were created to govern the existence and activities of compliant motorcycle clubs in their respective states.
Eventually, as the growth of law-abiding motorcycle clubs saw a noticeable increase of people wearing various club and organization patches, the outlaw bike community took notice and did not react favorably.
Newly formed clubs learned of the existence of the CoCs and were told they were the “State rights organization” that a new club needed to contact the CoC to obtain a “sanction” or “permission” to have their club. Typically, a new club was approached by a CoC member and told they needed to come to a “sit down” for a discussion. This was/is nothing more than a ‘dominant” outlaw MC exercising illegal rule over law-abiding motorcycle clubs.
A visit to a CoC by a new club usually results in regulation of the new club’s patch design. In other words, the new club is told what patch they can or cannot wear. The new club may be required to wear some patch or other item to show support for the “dominant” CoC club. There are numerous reports of clubs attending a CoC meeting only to have their patches forcibly removed by CoC members.
The irony here is that these outlaw MCs have had the constitutional right to wear their patches without interference from the government upheld by American courts in recent years. How is it that outlaw organizations have these rights for themselves but have also appointed themselves as ruler over the rest of us in the MC world? Hypocrisy; plain and simple. The law that protects their right to wear their patches also protects our right to wear our patches. Bottom line here is that OMGs have no lawful authority to grant or deny the right to wear patches to anyone else. Their power to enforce such rules lies only in the cooperation of the governed or criminal oppression of those who do not cooperate.
Many motorcycle clubs have chosen to align themselves with CoC regulations and abide by the edicts of a “dominant club.” This is their choice. For those who do not, there is no law that requires it. After all, CoCs are not equal opportunity. They pick and choose who they will accept. Any club with members who work in law enforcement are strictly persona non-grata. Law Enforcement Motorcycle Clubs are particularly unwelcome, for good reason.
Patch policing activities often start when a club is approached by someone representing a CoC and asked questions like, “Who gave you permission to wear those patches?” or “Who said you could wear those rags on our turf?” Often the new club is told they must attend a “sit-down” to discuss terms of their existence according to the “dominant” CoC club. The numbers of new motorcycle clubs who do not approach the CoC or ask for such permission has risen dramatically in recent years. This is because there is a new breed of motorcycle club out there.
Starting in the 1980s the evolving cruiser style motorcycle market gave rise to a new generation of motorcycle clubs. Many of these clubs abandoned outlaw mc culture traditions and protocols in favor of a new social order where members are regular citizens from all walks of life. These new motorcycle clubs wanted to be seen as non threatening, legitimate, and desirable in their respective communities. The idea of a club having some sort of public service or benevolent aspect became a mainstream idea.
These new clubs formed around motorcycle brand, social cause, or other common membership traits. The common characteristics between the outlaw MC community and the law-abiding community became evident and problematic, particularly the three-piece patch.
Everyone largely agrees that the three-piece patch came into being when motorcycle clubs had a philosophical parting of the ways with the American Motorcycle Association and cut their one-piece embroidered designs into multiple pieces in a show of disunity with the AMA. These clubs initially were recognized as the outlaw clubs of that time.
Today the concept of the multiple piece patch design is utilized by many MC organizations around the world much to the dismay of outlaw loyalists who believe the three-piece patch design belongs solely to them. It is a fact, however, that some of the most notorious outlaw MCs wear a one-piece or a two-piece patch.
The multiple-piece patch design is a concept that can’t really be owned by anyone. The only legal limitations placed on patch design is in the protection of a unique image by copyright and trademark law.
The practice of patch policing requires criminal behavior by whoever engages in it. Let’s start with the unlawful detention of an individual who is wearing a club vest with patches on it. If that person is not allowed to simply walk away from that conversation, the offense is unlawful detention, and in some states, it is called kidnapping. If force is used or threatened to detain someone, add assault to the charges.
The act of taking a person’s vest with patches (colors) without consent of the wearer is theft. If such taking is done from a person with physical force it is robbery, a felony crime. If such taking is done by means of a threat of force, or the threat of a weapon, it is also robbery and may carry penalty enhancements if a weapon is used or threatened.
The big question is WHY? There is nothing to gain from harassment of non-compliant clubs and much to lose. The risks to outlaw actors who engage in patch policing do not outweigh the benefits because they have nothing to gain. We have nothing they want. We will not simply submit and cower in silence.
The era of patch policing has come and gone. If you’re an outlaw and you want to be left alone, you need to let go of patch policing. We will not surrender or submit. The law is on our side.