On Monday March 4th, 2019 members of the motorcycle club community were victims of unconstitutional discrimination inside the Idaho State Capitol when they were told by Capitol Security personnel that they would have to remove their motorcycle club colors if they wanted to enter the Senate chambers to observe a floor vote on S 1109, a bill prohibiting motorcycle profiling. These individuals (one a member of the Brother Speed MC and one an associate of the Vagos MC) also participate in ABATE, the primary grassroots group lobbying for a law in Idaho, and complied in order to watch the vote. ABATE of Idaho responded by sending a cease and desist request to every legislator in Boise on Friday, March 8th, 2019.
ABATE’s letter to Legislators reads: “Any government agent denying an individual access to Senate Chambers because they are wearing motorcycle club colors is a clear violation of speech, association and due process rights protected by the US Constitution. Motorcycle club colors are First Amendment protected expression and wearing motorcycle club colors is considered expressive conduct, particularly when that expression is political.”
Bree Walker, representing ABATE of Idaho, reported to the MPP that she talked with the Capitol Security Oﬃcer that denied MC members wearing colors access on March 4th and confirmed that the Idaho Senate Sergeant at Arms; Sarah Jane McDonald, email@example.com, (208) 332-1400, was responsible for giving the order.
“Motorcycle profiling and discrimination have literally followed motorcyclists inside the Idaho State Capitol, a place where freedom of expression in a free society is supposed to be paramount, while participating in the democratic process to address issues of profiling and discrimination. Unfortunately, S 1109, a simple measure codifying Constitutional principles, fell one floor vote shy of passing.”
“Denying access to individuals because they are wearing motorcycle club colors exposes the government oﬃcials involved to potential civil liability under 42 USC Section 1983 for violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.”
Cease and Desist Request
ABATE of Idaho sent a letter to all state Senators and Representatives requesting “that the Idaho Senate, House of Representatives, and all law enforcement and other personnel involved with Capitol security, take whatever action necessary to guarantee that such unconstitutional acts of discrimination targeting those wearing motorcycle club colors at the Idaho Capitol immediately ceases.”
There is nothing in the Senate Rules that would prohibit motorcycle club colors. That’s freedom of expression. Why would there be?
It appears that evidence of motorcycle profiling in Idaho can no longer be denied.
Reprinted with permission from the Motorcycle Profiling Project, © 2019. Original here