There are an increasing number of incidents in which Alliance members and other law abiding bikers and clubs are challenged by the outlaw clubs in their area on behalf of the local CoC. These challenges range from the Alliance members club not asking “permission” to establish their club, to wearing the patch insignia of their choice, or even interfering with a rider(s) right to travel on public roadways. Often, violence is threatened if there is not compliance with the unlawful demands. Sometimes, violence actually occurs.
In the coming weeks, The Alliance Working Group will publish a series of blogs on various outlets (Full Throttle Full Mag, FB pages, etc.) which explain the rights that apply to all bikers and the common misconceptions about the actual authority of current Confederation of Clubs (CoC) and the unlawful actions of some CoC actors in their attempts to control the formation, operation, and existence of Law Abiding Motorcycle Clubs or Associations in various parts of the United States.
THE FOUNDING DOCUMENTS OF OUR COUNTRY RECOGNIZE OUR RIGHTS
The very founding documents of this country recognize the rights of freedom of speech and freedom of association. Indeed, the rights are so predominant in our system of law that even desecration of the flag, under which many of us served, is protected as speech. This fundamental right protects all riders, outlaw and law abiding. Freedom of speech allows all to associate together for legal purposes and to wear colors without fear of governmental limitation. It is hypocritical then, that some outlaw groups would seek to deny Alliance members the same rights they enjoy!
The right of the people to peacefully assemble for whatever lawful purpose they choose is a protected constitutional right. This includes motorcycle organizations of all kinds. We can form motorcycle clubs because there is no law that prohibits it. The government can’t take away this right when exercised lawfully, and neither can a criminal organization which protects by force these rights for itself, but denies them to others. Any CoC who believes they alone have this power, and will take unlawful steps to enforce it, has no place in a society that lives by the rule of law.
THE RIGHT TO WEAR PATCHES OR OTHER INSIGNIAS
The “freedom of speech” clause in the First Amendment gives us all the right to wear garments that express thoughts, words, sentiments, and identities when they have an intent to convey a particularized message with a likelihood that the message would be understood by those who view it. See Spence v. Washington, 418 U.S. 405, 409, 94 S.Ct. 2727, 41 L.Ed.2d 842 (1974). This includes the logo, names, geographical location and the color(s), adopted by ANY motorcycle organization. It is hypocritical of such clubs to argue their “Right” to wear “Colors,” to challenge the government’s efforts to take them away, but to then attempt to limit the rights of other riders to do the same.
The display of the name of a State, County, City, or any geographical place is not regulated nor prohibited by law, as these words are generic and in the public domain. If an organization chooses to display the name of such a place for the purpose of identifying their affiliation/association with that place, it is their right. Therefore, no-one (especially a motorcycle club) can legally dictate or deny the use of a geographical term to others, especially other motorcycle clubs and groups.
The only power by private groups to limit what patches are worn by others is found in trademark and copyright law when a unique image, logo or name is protected as intellectual property because the owner has taken those legal steps to protect it as such. Outlaw clubs have no problem initiating legal proceedings against those who violate their trademark rights. ALL clubs have this right.
Private property establishment owners can deny the wearing of colors within their premises if they do not discriminate in this practice.
WHO ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?
We want to be clear that we aren’t talking about all “outlaw clubs.” In the MC world, the labels “outlaw” and “criminal” have different meanings to different people. Some equate the two words. Others would say that an outlaw biker/club is someone who does not belong to the AMA. Yet others would say that an outlaw is simply a nonconformist or someone with radical ideas and an anti-establishment orientation.
We are referring specifically to those in the MC world who either threaten or attempt to use force to dictate the design and display of patches; to grant “permission” to exist; to require tribute or other form of payment. These acts are, by definition, “criminal.”
These conditions are sometimes described by these criminal actors as “Protocol” and dictate compliance as a condition of “Respect”. Any organization that uses criminal means to enforce illegal protocols is a criminal organization. It is not an act of respect to comply with these protocols. It is an act of submission.
So, an outlaw, as we use the term, is not necessarily a criminal. However, a criminal, by definition, is an outlaw.
GIVE RESPECT, GET RESPECT
The Alliance is a co-operative coalition of clubs who enjoy equal recognition and mutual respect based on our belief that we live under the same rule of law in a free society. The minimum level of respect required is recognition of others’ right to form, operate, and co-exist without interference. We elevate that respect by supporting each other in pursuit of lawful activities and events, recognition and defense of our rights, and mutual enjoyment of our roads and infrastructure.
The Alliance is committed to the concept that ALL motorcycle organizations are free of regulation from any private group, body, or individual, other than the established rule of law in whatever jurisdiction said group may exist.