Date: April 15th, 2011
Location: Santa Cruz
Motorcycle riders in Santa Cruz County claim police are harassing and accosting them for no reason. "We were on an Easter basket run," says Lyle Fleming. "Unless it's illegal to give baskets of goodies to children to take a ride on a Sunday afternoon. I can't see anything that was illegal at all."
Fleming is from the Monterey Bay Federation of Motorcycle Clubs. Now, he's speaking out against what he calls discrimination from police. He said, last Sunday, deputies from the Santa Cruz Gang Task Force targeted them.
"They looking for arbitrary reasons to harass motorcyclists," says Fleming. "We aren't really clear why. We are not gangs, we are motorcycle clubs."
But, the Santa Cruz County Gang Task Force said they had high presence after receiving complaints from the public. They also say it was a Hells Angels advertised event and they were just doing their job to keep the public safe.
"The people who were pulled over or had any enforcement action were those that had flagrant violations in front of officers," says Commander Mario Sulay.
Sulay said they gave out 16 citations and arrested four people. Three of those arrests were weapon-related.
"No one was pulled over for riding a motorcycle," says Sulay.
Fleming disagrees and said it's not against the law to associate with the Hell's Angels and he doesn't want to be classified as a criminal.
"It seems that the cops have an attitude toward motorcyclists," says Fleming. "They would like us to all be gangs. They try to lump us into the category of street gangs. Unfortunately we are not street gangs."
Police frequently report to the press arrests for "weapons-related charges." Though the charge would seem to imply that criminals are packing concealed semi-automatic weapons, these "weapons" often turn out to be legal pocketknives or even leathermen tools.
- Santa Cruz Motorcycle Riders Claim Police Harassment