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Archive for February 20th, 2009

snohomish_showI’ve posted previously on the unintended consequences of aggressive police staffing at biker rallies and the Snohomish Antique and Classic Motorcycle Show is the latest Northwest victim.

Until this year the Sky Valley chapter of A.B.A.T.E paid about $5,000 for security and no other event in the city had been required to have more than two police officers present although outside agencies were used for some crowd control.  Just last September the Snohomish car show organized by the Chamber of Commerce brought in an estimated 15,000 people and only two officers were on duty before and after the event.  There were volunteer Fire Explorers and organizers were charged only $1,200.

So what is the price for a bike show in 2009 as the economy sags?  City officials wanted organizers of the motorcycle show to pay $30,360 for 44 police officers to staff this event!  Never mind there have been no major incidents in the previous 12 years of the show with an estimated 22,000 people in attendance.  The Snohomish Police Chief initially requested for 70 police officers stating a need for more officers because they are “concerned” about the potential for motorcycle gang violence.

Quick to recognize the potential political backlash the Snohomish Mayor Randy Hamlin stated at the City Council meeting the decision had to do with public safety and “It’s not to discriminate against this [motorcycle] group”.  Then why bring it up, Randy?  And why the “fear-based” discussions centered on Outlaw motorcycle groups attending the show?  Why were no business owners consulted on the police policy changes?  With no troubled past, is law enforcement being hyper-cautious or are members of the motorcycle community being sent a message?

With few alternatives and a short window to accommodate an abrupt rise in expenses the organizers cancelled the show.  Most unfortunate are donations from the show ($4000 last year) to local charities that disappear as well as the $$ the motorcycle riding public would have spent in Snohomish!

UPDATE: May 20, 2009 – thousands of bikers show up in Snohomish even with the bike show being cancelled.  So do  a lot of police…  See HeraldNet news article for more information.

Photo courtesy of event web site.

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