Category Archives: Press Releases

The National Council of Clubs Addresses Leesburg Bikefest Shooting

Irresponsible Media Reports of Bikerfest Shooting Spreads Dangerous Stereotype

Contact : Jerry Theophilopoulos, legal representative, National Council of Clubs,
1530 E a s t l a k e A v e E , S e a t t l e , WA 9 8 1 0 2
media@councilofclubs.org, councilofclubs.org

The National Council of Clubs Adresses Leesburg Bikefest Shooting

The National Council of Clubs (NCOC) issued a Press Statement today addressing the
recent shooting that occurred April 29th, 2017, during the annual Bikefest in Leesburg,
Florida.

(Florida)- The National Council of Clubs (NCOC) and the Florida Council of Clubs
(FLCOC), organizations dedicated to defending the political, legislative and legal
interests of the millions of motorcycle riders across America, strongly object to the
irresponsible release of prejudicial information by law enforcement- and the subsequent
release of this prejudice by some local news outlets- relating to recent events that
occurred on April 29th during the annual Bikefest event held in Leesburg, Florida.
Attempting to prejudice public perception reinforces unconstitutional behavior
targeting not only the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, but all motorcycle clubs generally.

Some news outlets report that there was a shooting in a Circle K parking lot in Leesburg
between the Outlaws MC and the Kingsmen MC on April 29th, 2017. News reports say
two individuals were shot three times, one Outlaw and one Kingsmen. The Kingsmen
member later died from his injuries on May 14th. On Wednesday, May 17th arrest
warrants were issued for four members of the Outlaws MC, including the Outlaw that
was shot in the arm, leg, and back during the incident. Authorities report that two
Outlaws were apprehended that same day. [1]

The NCOC and FLCOC have no objection to non-prejudicial and factual reporting.
Unfortunately, both law enforcement and the media have chosen to vilify the Outlaws
MC and act as judge and jury. Law enforcement, with the help of some media outlets such as the Orlando Sentinal, have painted a one-sided picture, including references to
past crimes committed by members of the club that are completely unrelated. [2]

There is zero reference to the Outlaws more than half century of irrefutable and
legitimate political activism, charity, and community involvement. By unethically
connecting factually inaccurate and isolated incidents, negative stereotypes about
motorcycle clubs are not only reinforced, they are spread. While this strategy may be
effective at creating prejudice, it is also diametrically opposed to constitutional
constraints and effectively drowns out the truth about motorcycle clubs.

The truth is yet to be determined, let alone reported. The truth is that all of the details
of this incident have not been released and formulating opinions based on prejudicial
information is irresponsible and reprehensible. The truth is that isolated incidents are
not sufficient to draw broad generalizations about organizations with hundreds of
members spread across the United States. Motorcycle clubs, including those clubs
labeled organized or criminal gangs by authorities, are 1st Amendment protected
associations.

Restrictions solely based on association in a motorcycle club violate the 1st Amendment.
Courts agree: There is “no evidence that by merely wearing [1% motorcycle club]
“colors,” an individual is “involved in or associated with the alleged violent or criminal
activity of other [1% motorcycle club] members. It is a fundamental principle that the
government may not impose restrictions on an individual “merely because an
individual belong[s] to a group, some members of which committed acts of violence.”
In fact, the Supreme Court has long “disapproved governmental action . . . denying
rights and privileges solely because of a citizen’s association with an unpopular
organization.” Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 185-86 (1972).

To impose restrictions on any person “who wears the insignia of [a 1% motorcycle
club], without regard to or knowledge of that individual’s specific intent to engage in
the alleged violent activities committed by other members, is antithetical to the basic
principles enshrined in the First Amendment and repugnant to the fundamental
doctrine of personal guilt that is a hallmark of American jurisprudence.[3]

It is important not to forget the fundamental principle that all people are innocent until
proven guilty. It’s also important not to forget that most of the time the entire truth is
not being told by law enforcement or the media. Unsubstantiated generalizations about
any group of people – including motorcycle clubs – and policies based on these
generalizations are dangerous and in direct conflict with the foundational principles of a
free society.


[1] See Myrt Price, Arrests made in motorcycle club shooting in Leesburg, police say, WFTV9 ABC, May 17, 2017; Staff Reporter, Outlaws members arrested in fatal shooting during Bikefest, Daily Commercial, May 17, 2017

[2] For an example see Outlaws, Kingsmen motorcycle clubs involved in Leesburg shootout that left 2 injured, records show, Orlando Sentinal, April 30,

[3] see Coles v. Carlini 162 F.Supp.3d 380 (2015)

http://councilofclubs.org/uploads/Leesberg_Press_Release.pdf

PRESS RELEASE – NATIONAL COUNCIL OF CLUBS

RE: Law Enforcement Associations With The Iron Order MC
Date: 2/25/2016
Contact: David Devereaux- Spokesperson, media@councilofclubs.org

The National Council of Clubs is the largest unifying movement in the history of motorcycle clubs. We represent the voice of thousands of motorcycle clubs across America. These clubs are comprised of riders from all walks of life. The movement consists of Christian clubs, Military Veterans clubs, Clean and Sober clubs, Women only clubs, Child Abuse Assistance Clubs, 1% clubs, riding clubs and many others, reflective of the rich culture and history of our country and the multitude of personal interests available to us all. We are dedicated to defending the political, legislative and legal interests of millions of motorcycle riders across America and of all of our clubs and club members.

There is an irrefutable disparity in the treatment of members of the Iron Order motorcycle club relative to the treatment of traditional motorcycle clubs by law enforcement and prosecutors. The IOMC is comprised of a number of members in law enforcement who have demonstrated a continuously increased level of aggression against members of other clubs. The fact that these law enforcement members, even though they are off duty, can still inflame a situation in their personal time and then pull a badge out to trump their conduct is unconscionable. When local law enforcement is called upon to deal with one of these situations as a result of a shooting or other injury to another biker by an IOMC member, they are confronted with an aggressor with a badge who is usually then given preferential treatment.

 

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This disparity in treatment, substantiated by a pattern of violent incidents involving the Iron Order over the last several years, is an injustice made possible by the club’s direct connections to law enforcement. From the killing of Zack Tipton in Jacksonville, FL to the recent killing of Victor Mendoza at the Denver Motorcycle Expo, a clear pattern of preferential treatment is evident that places the Iron Order and its members above the law. For example, a photograph shows that the suspected Iron Order “shooter” in Denver was taken out of handcuffs and allowed to use his personal cell phone in the parking lot after he shot and killed a biker associated with another club and attempted to kill another.

Compare this to how law enforcement dealt with the Waco tragedy last year, where an incident between a very small group of bikers resulted in the mass arrests and detention of EVERY SINGLE PERSON there with a motorcycle or wearing motorcycle associated attire.

Motorcycle club members from across the nation – from big clubs to small – routinely report that the Iron Order deliberately provoke violent incidents with other club members. These incidents are not the result of the unrelated actions of individuals as is normally the case with incidents involving clubs. Unlike other Law Enforcement Motorcycle Clubs (LEMC’s), the Iron Order seems to be PREMISED on provoking confrontations with other motorcycle clubs for the purpose of initiating deadly force based on the belief that many clubs will not talk to authorities and that when local law enforcement is called in, that nothing will be done.

Like many other disenfranchised classes, many motorcycle clubs have lost their trust in law enforcement. Members have experienced a long history of discrimination and abuse at the hands of some in law enforcement who just don’t like bikers. This attitude is not much different than the conduct of some in law enforcement who just don’t like other people who are not like them. Different religions, different colors, different backgrounds, different languages, different nationalities. In recent years advances in technology, like recording equipment on cell phones, is capturing much more of this inappropriate behavior and discriminatory conduct. Compounding this distrust is the fact that not only does harassment clearly occur against the biking community, but law enforcement members of other clubs take these same attitudes into their personal lives and still use their employment and their badges as some cloak of protection and moral authority. The actions of the Iron Order, because they are tied to law enforcement, tarnishes and further erodes the relationship between law enforcement and the taxpaying citizens they are intended to protect.

LEMC’s like the Blue Knights have publicly condemned the Iron Order and reminded us all that LEMC’s do not normally find themselves in conflicts with other clubs. The Iron Order, and clubs like them, are anomalies in the world of motorcycle clubs. GC Bengal, a member of the Blue Knight LEMC, in a letter to motorcycleprofilingproject.com, writes:

“As a Blue Knight I don’t support any violence towards any club. The IOMC has had several incidents that make all LEO’s and LEMC’s look bad and, as a LEO, I would never associate with them or support them. Yes, I have a job to do and yes we carry on and off duty because we are LEO’s 24/7. But the Blue Knights do not advocate nor do we really have many issues with other clubs unlike some other so called LEMC’s like the Iron Order.”

This miscarriage of justice is so reprehensible that motorcyclists and concerned citizens in every state should be demanding to know why every law enforcement agency in their state has not publicly condemned the Iron Order and mandated that all officers and employees sever all ties to the organization. It’s time to change the dialog. It’s time for law enforcement to police themselves. The escalating frequency of violent incidents involving the Iron Order must not be allowed to continue under the umbrella of government approval and protection.

The National Council of Clubs

Press Release – Colorado Motorcycle Expo Shooting

The National Council of Clubs, an organization dedicated to protecting the political and legal interests of hundreds of motorcycle clubs and thousands of their members nationwide, is issuing the following statement related to Saturday’s shooting at the Colorado Motorcycle Expo in Denver:

Various media sources have reported that a confrontation between two motorcycle clubs, the Mongols and the Iron Order, resulted in at least one confirmed dead and at least 7 injured during the Colorado Motorcycle Expo Saturday, January 30th. The National Council of Clubs is deeply disturbed by such unnecessary acts of violence at any event, particularly one as well supported by the community over the years as the Colorado Motorcycle Expo, the largest indoor motorcycle swap-meet in the country.

Council of Clubs attorney Wade Eldridge was present at the expo and in fact witnessed much of the confrontation. Mr. Eldridge says that he was present when he saw a crowd of Mongols and Iron Order, approximately a total of 20-30 individuals, gather inside the expo. According to Eldridge there was yelling and a verbal argument ensuing.

Mr. Eldridge then heard a gunshot. He saw an Iron Order member holding a handgun in his right hand with his right arm extended. According to Eldridge, he heard people shouting, “Put your gun away”. The Iron Order member then dropped his arm and pointed his weapon at the ground, says Eldridge. Eldridge says he reported what he saw to authorities on the scene. Eldridge then called 911 and reported what he saw.

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Eldridge’s account is validated by this photo taken by a Council of Clubs participant that happened to be present when the conflict began. This photo was taken following the first shot fired, the source says. The photo shows a member of the Iron Order moving away from the crowd holding a gun in his right hand.

The gun is pointed forward. Eldridge has confirmed that the man in this photo is the same man he saw with a gun extended in his right hand. Eldridge says this man “is the same guy I saw.” This is also the same man identified by eyewitnesses, as reported by many media sources, as the member of the Iron Order that was questioned by police following the shooting.

In another photo provided by the same Council of Clubs participant, this same man, following the shooting, is pictured with another Iron Order member (who appears to be posing) and two law enforcement officers. He is not in handcuffs and is in fact being allowed to use a cell phone even though he is suspected of firing shots.

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Stephen Stubbs, an attorney for the Mongols Motorcycle Club, stated that members of the Iron Order is predominately made up of police officers and taunted members of the Mongols into an argument that escalated into violence that led to the fatal shooting of a Mongols member.

John C. Whitfield, a lawyer and Iron Order member, confirmed to the Denver Post that Iron Order members include L.E.O.’s. Relating to this specific shooting, Whitfield told the Denver AP, “a Colorado Department of Corrections officer fired his gun during a weekend brawl at a Denver motorcycle show that left one dead and seven others injured.”

The Iron Order Motorcycle Club has been involved in a laundry list of confrontations around the country with other motorcycle clubs that have resulted in violence or death. For example, on June 26, 2014 Florida State Attorney Angela Corey refused to charge Iron Order prospect Kristopher Stone after he shot and killed Black Pistons patch holder Zachariah Tipton in Jacksonville Beach. Corey outrageously ruled the killing was justifiable homicide even though the Iron Order member shot the unarmed Black Pistons motorcycle club member in the face while only a few feet apart.

Iron Order members have not been held accountable for any of the violence or killings that they have been involved in. So far, the same holds true for the incident in Colorado. Police have told the Denver AP that “they have made no arrests and a Department of Corrections spokeswoman did not immediately return calls for comment.”

The Iron Order, which is an off-duty law enforcement officer based motorcycle club, is identified by the ATF to be an “Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.” (See, The ATF Report on OMG’s and the Military, 2014)

The Council of Clubs has obtained and reviewed intelligence that confirms that the Iron Order repeatedly diminishes the relationship between law enforcement and the community they are intended to serve and protect.

According to a 1% club member that was present and has attended the expo for the past 15 years,“There has never been a confrontation, so much as a fistfight. And many 1% organizations have attended including the Hells Angels, Sons of Silence, Bandidos, Outlaws, Mongols, and many others. There has never been a problem until a law enforcement club showed up. Never. It would be against an unwritten code.”

The Council of Clubs believes that law enforcement clubs involved in confrontations with motorcycle clubs are completely inconsistent with the intended mission of law enforcement and should not be condoned or protected by professional law enforcement and other government officials from culpability.

According to another member of a 1% motorcycle club present at the expo, “local and federal authorities that responded to the incident acted in a professional and respectful manor. Authorities contained the crime scene and did not harass or detain members of other motorcycle clubs that were present. Major 1% clubs evacuated the area to allow law enforcement to do their job. Although the expo was later canceled, initially the owner of the venue and law enforcement authorities invited uninvolved clubs back to the expo.”

The National Council of Clubs has a heightened concern with the general demeanor of some law enforcement member motorcycle clubs. The repeated public displays of violence by members of the Iron Order, combined with the conflict they infuse within society, as compared to the intended mission of law enforcement, should be a concern to all citizens, professional law enforcement and government officials everywhere.

The National Council of Clubs will continue to access information related to this incident and will stand by, ready for further comment.

 

Contact Information:

All inquiries should be emailed to media@councilofclubs.org and addressed to:
David Devereaux- Spokesperson
-OR-
Jerry Theophilopoulos- Legal Counsel