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Friday, July 22, 2016

Ottawa police to public: Stay away from Hells Angels

Ottawa police warn public to ‘Steer Clear’ as hundreds of Hells Angels descend on capital for convention..

Ottawa, Canada (July 22, 2016) As hundreds of bikers continue their trek to the nation’s capital for a Hells Angels gathering this weekend, law enforcement agencies are warning the public of an increased presence of not only bikers but also police.

Det.-Staff Sgt. Len Isnor, head of the provincial biker enforcement unit — of which Ottawa police are a part — said the weekend is expected to be quiet but police are “prepared for anything.”

The bikers, and members of their affiliate and clubs, are expected to gather in Ottawa from Friday to Sunday for what’s called their “Canada Run” — an annual convention.

Hells Angels Nomads member at the front gate of the group's compound in Carlsbad Springs.

“This is organized crime coming from all over Canada meeting in one location,” Isnor said. So officers across the country have a “vested interest” in the gathering, he said.

The Hells Angels Nomads 5th Chapter clubhouse is on Piperville Road, formerly 8th Line Road, in Carlsbad Springs. The clubhouse is about 16 years old and houses about 12 members of the Nomads.

Police are expecting anywhere from 500 to 700 people to congregate on the approximately one-acre plot of land, with some likely staying overnight elsewhere.

Member stands sentry at the front gate of the Hells Angels compound in Carlsbad Springs.

The clubhouse was most recently raided at the end of June when some arrests were made, but its contingent had long before succeeded in its bid to bring the mandatory run to the capital.

Canada Run locations are selected in much the same way Olympic host cities are — a bid is put in by a local chapter and one man gets one vote until there is a clear winner.

There are three regions of Hells Angels chapters — the west region, the east region, and essentially Ontario, or the central region, which divides the country. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the 11 Hells Angels chapters in Ontario and the bikers will be looking to celebrate, Isnor said.

Hells Angels after the funeral of member Kenny Mire. (License plates blocked by BTN)

Police do expect a large contingent of the visiting bikers to make their way into the communities and to frequent bars, restaurants and strip clubs in surrounding areas but encourage civilians to leave them alone and report any suspicious activity to police.

    They are organized crime. If they can steer clear of these people, by all means.

“We’re telling the public to limit their contact with these people. They are organized crime. If they can steer clear of these people, by all means,” Isnor said.

“They’re going to use this opportunity to demonstrate to the public that they are who they are,” Isnor said. “The power of that patch is a big part of who they are. By having the numbers here and riding through the community, it’s going to have an impact.”

The runs show the strength of the Hells Angels as a continued criminal presence in the country. “They’re going to be here in vast numbers and it’s going to be a message to the community.”

Yet, the group gatherings are also ideal for police looking to keep tabs on the bikers. According to police, they are an established organized crime group with a network of official chapters and pawn outfits across the country.

“They know that we try to intercept their private communications, so what better way of communicating but face-to-face?” Isnor said.

Isnor said the biker club is stronger than in previous years but this isn’t a resurgence. The club has continued to exist but major police operations put key players behind bars and now that those jail stints are over, “there’s never been a time over the past six, seven years that there’s been more back on the streets.”

SOURCE: National Post

Yeah, though we walk....

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Feds Going After MC Colors

Federal Government moving forward to seize club colors

Washington, DC (July 19, 2016) Federal prosecutors are ramping up efforts to seize the trademarks of Motorcycle Clubs in California and possibly the Midwest in a renewed effort to target the groups “patches” that members wear on their jackets and vests.

A First Amendment obstacle course still could lie ahead, experts warn, as officials go after organizations with names like the “Mongols” and the misspelled “Devils Diciples.”

But in new legal filings, prosecutors are keeping alive tactics begun during the presidency of George W. Bush to try to cripple the groups by seizing their assets.

In a July 11 appellate court filing, prosecutors wrote that “A select group of the gang, so-called ‘full-patched’ members,” had obtained federal trademark protection for “Two marks used by the gang to identify members and to terrorize enemies.” The filing called the Mongols’ registration “An audacious, novel move.”

The two trademarks cover a logo and a name that summon the organization’s identity.

“Gang rules . . . broadly recognize that only full-patched members, that is, the constituents of Mongol Nation, have full authority to use the word and rider images,” prosecutors stated in the new 30-page brief.

The filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit seeks to reinstate an indictment dismissed two years ago by a trial judge. If prosecutors succeed, the Justice Department could eventually secure control of the trademarks associated with Southern California-based Mongols Motorcycle Club.

An attorney for the Mongols was in court Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. A Justice Department spokesman could not be reached.

The government’s appeal in the Mongols’ case is the second this year in which the potential seizure of trademarks has figured in federal efforts to curtail organizations that prosecutors contend are criminal enterprises, not just clubs for like-minded motorcycle enthusiasts.

Six weeks ago, a Michigan-based federal judge issued an order suggesting that trademarks claimed by a motorcycle outfit called the Devils Diciples were fair game, following a wide-ranging indictment  issued in 2012.

In his May 31 order, U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland ruled that one of the Devils Diciples’ defendants, who had pleaded guilty, would not be able to contest the potential forfeiture of any of the organization’s trademarks.

But Fritz Clapp, a Beverly Hills, California-based attorney who filed a trademark application for the Devils Diciples, said Tuesday that he was prepared to oppose any federal effort to seize the asset. “It is a subject of controversy,” Clapp said.

Full-patched members of the club identified themselves with patches, tattoos and insignia, including the word and rider images.

Conventional asset forfeiture is a popular tool for law enforcement. Assets worth more than $1.6 billion were deposited in the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Fund during Fiscal 2015, according to the program’s most recent report.

The seized property ran the gamut, from a $1.3 million airplane taken in Denison, Texas, and $1.2 million in currency seized in Miami to $11 million in Bitcoin, the online currency, seized in San Francisco.

Intellectual property, though, has yet to become a common target for law enforcement, and the prospect of the government seizing names and logos raises myriad free-speech issues.

“The majority of Mongols have no criminal record and are not actually accused of anything except being Mongols,” Donald Charles Davis, who blogs under the name The Aging Rebel, said. “It would be both illegal and unfair to deny them of their constitutional rights based on Department of Justice propaganda.”

In 2008, then-U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien apparently broke new ground when he unveiled in Los Angeles a wide-ranging indictment of 79 Mongols for a variety of offenses. As part of his campaign, O’Brien sought the Mongols’ trademarks.

“If the court grants our request . . . then if any law enforcement officer sees a Mongol wearing his patch, he will be authorized to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back,” O’Brien said at the time.

The two trademarks cover the stylized name “Mongols” as well as the figure of a motorcycle rider wielding a sword. All but two of the original 79 defendants were eventually convicted.

A federal court, though, rejected the initial trademark forfeiture effort and ordered the Justice Department to pay $253,206 in legal fees to the attorneys who challenged it. Prosecutors returned with a new indictment of the Mongol Nation, which they described as a distinct legal entity.

A trial judge dismissed the Mongol Nation indictment last September, without getting to the potential trademark forfeiture issue, prompting the Justice Department to appeal.

If the Justice Department now succeeds in reviving the indictment, and eventually wins the criminal case, the trademark forfeiture issue roars back into play.