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