Posts Tagged ‘Supreme Court’

Pumpkin Festival

I previously blogged about Street Vibrations and the club-on-club shooting in Sparks, NV last month at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino which left dead the HAMC San Jose Chapter President (Jeffrey Pettigrew).

We now have the first documented incident of how the HAMC and Vagos violence has provoked a response from law enforcement in Manteca, CA which is about 75 miles east of San Francisco.

It happened at a Pumpkin Festival in “the family city.”  Yes a Pumpkin Festival.  Two members of the Bikers for Christ Motorcycle Ministry were asked to leave the street fair by the Manteca Police because they were wearing their motorcycle vest with ministry patches on the back. They were told it was due to the shooting in Sparks, NV.

Keep in mind that the Christian Motorcycle Ministry is a non-profit ministry.  Not a street gang, or are they really even a motorcycle club.   Their purpose is to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the biker world, a section of society,  that many have chosen not to associate with. The ministry has been operating for 21 years without problems.

Isn’t profiling against the law?  The Supreme Court ruled in the case of Cohen vs. California, 403 U.S.15 (1971) that individuals have the constitutional right under the First Amendment to wear clothing which displays writings or designs. In addition, the right of an individual to have freedom of association has long been recognized and protected by the Courts.

What’s next?  I suppose, motorcyclists will be asked to leave events because they are wearing a H.O.G. emblem on a vest or people wearing a Harley-Davidson t-shirt or one from their favorite Sons of Anarchy television show. I find this whole situation discouraging.

Photo taken by author in Hood River.

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WBC Flyer Targets PGR

In September I blogged about Fred J. Brehony who was killed in a motorcycle accident in route to the Willamette National Cemetery.  He was a member of the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) and riding to support a funeral for Howell “Hal” Birdwell (a U.S. Vietnam War Veteran).

Mr. Brehony was a U.S. Navy Veteran who served on a destroyer during the Vietnam War and deeply believed in the mission of the Patriot Guard.  He was very committed to stand as a silent sentry at military funerals out of respect for vets and in part to protect families from potential protesters who would show up to cheer fallen soldiers.

Speaking of protesters inappropriate actions, I learned yesterday that the Westboro Baptist Church – you know them as group behind protests and the harsh treatment of families who are grieving the loss of their loved ones – have now turned their hateful focus on the Patriot Guards.

Here is the flier (.pdf) which organized the protest in Mulvane, KS and calls out the PGR.  Below are the actual words from the flyer:


Mulvane, KS has the shame and dishonor of being the birthplace of the Patriot Guard Riders.  This is a group of God-hating brutes who worship their great goddess the American flag & wave such flags outside the funerals of raging rebels, apparently thinking such vain idolatry can stop God.  What foolishness.

God hates you, Doomed America, for what you have done to your children! Here is the COMMANDMENT from your god:

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.  And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.  And thou shalt write them upon the posts of they house, and on they gates.”  Deut. 6:6-9

You will not obey that simple commandment.  Instead, you corrupt your children from the womb, so God has given you violent, freakish, worthless, brute-beast children.  You hate your children, and as God continues cursing you, you will turn aside to eat your children.


If you’re not aware of the group – they believe that God is punishing the U.S. via soldiers’ deaths because our county allows homosexuality.  Whether right or wrong we all have the right to believe what we want to think. No question.  And I fully understand as citizens of the U.S. we are entitled to freedom of speech.  But, don’t the families and friends have a right to some dignity, to peacefully morn their loved ones and have a sense of closure without protestors disrupting or showing disrespect?

I cannot understand what would make someone take comfort in protesting a funeral.

UPDATE: March 2, 2011 – The Supreme Court ruling yesterday upheld an appeals court ruling/decision that the WBC can continue to protest at military funerals unabated.  Leaders of the church stated they would now “quadruple” the number of anti-gay protests at military funerals around the county.  More information on CBS News HERE.  The lead WBC lawyer was Margie Phelps, the daughter of Fred Phelps the pastor of the church.  What a disappointment and I’m sad for Albert Snyder who sued WBC over picketing his son’s funeral.

Photo courtesy of Westboro Baptist Church, but used without their permission.

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lawschoolphpShe’s tough, tenacious, smart and demonstrated a willingness to take the Government to task.  I’m talking about Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor.

She’s served on the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit for 10 years, heard over 3,000 cases and written over 380 opinions.  She has associated herself with and championed the cause of society’s oppressed and outcast. Sotomayor has written and spoke many times about her identity as a Puerto Rican and the “shock” she and others felt at the less-than-lofty place they held in America’s social fabric.  However, her writings are not limited to concerns about people who share her background. Sotomayor has often commiserated with other “minorities” who — through no fault of their own — found themselves disadvantaged.

The Senate Judiciary Committee recently released papers which outline how Sotomayor has dealt with labels, discrimination or the bias of stereotypes.  She has taken strong anti-Government positions in several decisions including one case involving the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC).  The NYTimes reported in the 1994 case which Judge Sotomayor presided over, that jurors found in favor of the Motorcycle Club rejecting the government’s efforts to seize the 77 East Third Street clubhouse.  A federal lawsuit was filed under a 1984 law allowing the Government to seize property used in drug trafficking.  At the time the New York City Chapter of the motorcycle club was incorporated under NY state law as a religious, nonprofit organization, and the group that fought the seizure was formally known as the Church of Angels.

Given recent West Coast law enforcement events against motorcycle clubs that seems to be challenging the First Amendment’s guarantee to peacefully assemble, which the Court has interpreted to include “freedom of association”…. and other important issues like a motorcycle club’s identifying patches as a protected form of free speech…. being a motorcycle enthusiast who has faced two-wheel discrimination by public officials I applaud Sotomayor.  She has worked tirelessly for an America who often has a deeply confused image of itself that is in perpetual tension.

Photo courtesy of irreference.com

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