Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Member of a Pagan's Motorcycle Club gunned down

Spring Hill, Florida (January 17, 2019) BSB – Pasco County sheriff’s detectives say a member of the Pagan's Motorcycle Club was murdered in Spring Hill. His body was discovered in his home's driveway Wednesday morning.

Detectives say 32-year-old William James Earl died of a gunshot wound. His body was discovered in the driveway of 14383 Glenrock Road in Shady Hills.

The sheriff’s office says it’s not known if the murder had anything to do with Pagan's Motorcycle Club activities. A local leader of the Pagans, Glenn Buzze, wouldn’t appear on camera but said he was saddened by Earl’s death. “My best friend was murdered,” said Buzze.

He said Earl was a Navy veteran and got engaged on Christmas Eve. Buzze said he doesn’t know why someone would kill Earl.

Neighbors we spoke with told us there is known drug activity in the neighborhood and they often hear gunshots in the night.

“When I hear the guns my grandchildren run in the house because i tell them to come in when they hear the guns. You never know where the bullets going to go,” said a neighbor who didn’t want us to use her name or show her face. So far the sheriff’s office hasn’t named any suspects as the investigation continues.


Bikers commemorate father who died after accident

Gauteng, South Africa (January 15, 2019) —  “Enough is enough.” This was the moving message echoed by hundreds of bikers from across Gauteng on Isando Road on Saturday morning, where they gathered in honour of their fallen friend TC Frankenberg.

Clr Simon Lapping estimates that around 200 to 300 bikers were present in honour of the fallen biker, father and husband

The 32-year-old biker, father and husband died on December 26, after being critically injured in a motorcycle accident at unmarked road works on Isando Road on December 14. He was returning from Primrose, where he had visited his parents when he hit a sandbank.

There was a sombre atmosphere as the bikers arrived in their masses to commemorate him. No sound, except for their motorcycle engines, could be heard.

On their black leather jackets, they wore the message ‘TC Frankenberg, loved by all’.
According to Clr Simon Lapping, 15 accidents were reported to have occurred on Isando Road because of the unmarked roadworks. “There’s been no apology [from the City] and no condolences. This can’t go on.”

“His death will not be in vain,” Member of Parliament Michael Waters (DA) told Express, metres away from where Frankenberg had crashed.

“Through national Parliament and the local council, we will ensure that the contractors are held accountable, as well as the council. They cannot just wash their hands off of this.”

A memorandum has been signed by family and friends of Frankenberg, as well as members of the public, that gives the City 60 days to investigate the work done on Isando Road from July 2018 to date.

“An audit must be done of all contractors working for the municipality, and all unqualified contractors must be removed and blacklisted,” the memorandum read.

Frankenberg is survived by his wife Charmaine and two-year-old daughter Raven. Charmaine could not hide her tears as she placed a rose on the wreath and cross next to her late husband’s accident scene.

SOURCE: Kempton Express 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

City cancels 10 year old motorcycle event

Middletown, CT, USA  (January 12, 2019) — The city’s Middletown Motorcycle Mania, which for 13 years drew up to 12,000 people to the historic downtown and restaurant row, enjoyed its last year in 2018.

A half-mile of Main Street, from Washington Street/Route 66 to Union Street, including the South Green, are usually closed off for the four-hour event once a year, usually held on a Wednesday.

“(It) has grown so large that the cost of providing security has grown to an unsustainable level,” Mayor Dan Drew said in a Facebook post Friday morning.

Within seven hours, his post garnered nearly 280 comments.

“It was a very, very tough decision,” Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce President Larry McHugh said. “It just got so big. We felt it was best to drop an event of this magnitude.”

For the first couple of years, Motorcycle Mania drew between 400 and 500 bikers and between 1,000 and 1,500 spectators. By the third year, numbers had doubled, McHugh said. Last year, the event saw about 12,000 people in attendance, he said.

So many people traveling through the city’s downtown corridor during rush hour overwhelmed city resources, officials said.

“It’s difficult. Once that happens, it’s a different ball game,” McHugh said. “I feel bad for the restaurants. It was done primarily for them during the summer.”

Touted as “the largest one-day summer motorcycle event in New England,” the event featured custom and vintage motorcycles, and was held in memory of Dan M. Hunter, one of the event’s founding sponsors, who was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Motorcycle Mania benefited city youth programs, with proceeds supporting the Hal Kaplan Middletown Mentor Program, Middletown Recreation and Community Services Department Youth Programs and the Middletown Summer Youth Employment Program.

City and business officials and other stakeholders will be meeting soon to come up with a replacement event, said McHugh, who added “we have two or three options” which could take place in the summer at about the same time.

Coordinating police, fire, public works and other services — and the costs of safety measures — became unwieldy by the final years, Drew said.

“To run a big event, we have to have a lot of security,” McHugh said. “It’s very, very important because of the environment we’re all living in today. The bottom line is, pulling 12,000 people downtown, we want to make sure people feel safe.”

Over the course of its existence, very few problems arose, McHugh said, save for a “few minor, minor, minor things.”

By the end of August, stakeholders decided it was time to go out on a high note. The final decision was made Dec. 31, McHugh said.

Annual sponsors included Hunter’s Ambulance, Hunter Limousines, the Hunter family and Haymond Law Office. Numerous awards were given out for best vintage American, British, European and Japanese bikes and mayor’s choice.

“It’s a huge event in a small space with specific security considerations,” Drew said.

A few years ago, the city had SWAT team members in full gear posted at the event, which elicited criticism, the mayor added.

“Now people are saying to pay whatever it takes for security,” he said. “No one is ever happy with decisions like this, but instead of thinking solely about how you feel, think about the reality of the city’s responsibility to keep all participants safe, and what that means in practical terms. It’s not a fun decision but, believe me, it’s the right one.”

Kathy Chirsky of Middletown said couldn’t believe the news when she heard of the cancellation.

“It’s a shame. More motorcycle clubs help Toys for Tots, cancer research, Alzheimer’s research and diabetes causes — sad to see it go,”said Chirsky. “People from all walks of life went: kids, doctors, lawyers, accountants, physician’s assistants, men, women, old and young.”

Chirsky looked forward to the family friendly event every year, she said.

“It’s a positive thing,” said Chirsky, who would bring her grandchildren downtown to ogle at the bikes, paint jobs and other things, as well as enjoy food truck fare and live bands. She was especially happy to see female bikers — including grandmothers: “Why take it away?”

She fears the negative connotation some members of the public have toward bikers, often portrayed on film, may have been a factor.

“You never know, (a biker) could be saving your life the next day or (helping out) when your kid falls down the stairs and needs stitches,” Chirsky said.

She said she would like to see the event relocated.

“Maybe it’s not suited for Main Street,” she said. “Put it in a field, where there’s more land. I don’t see any trouble. They all get along, they’re all laughing, having a good time. If you can’t have things like this to keep people in Connecticut, they’re pushing people out.”

Last week, another staple for motorcyclists in the region closed its doors: the Red Dog Saloon in Middlefield. It had been open since 1981 on Route 66.

Mongols motorcycle club stripped of their logo

Santa Ana, California, USA  (January 12, 2019) — A federal jury in Santa Ana found Friday that the U.S. government can seize the Mongol Nation motorcycle club's trademark logo featuring a Genghis Khan character on a bike, along with various items of personal property such as leather jackets and weapons, in a closely watched case that has first First Amendment implications.  

The verdict came in the forfeiture of assets phase of the case against the club, which was convicted by the same jury on Dec. 13 of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

Now the trial moves to a third phase, in which U.S. District Judge David O. Carter will decide how the forfeiture is carried out. But he has previously said the issues in the novel case will likely wind up being decided by a higher court.

"You're both setting yourselves up for an appeal that will go to the Ninth Circuit and then to the U.S. Supreme Court,'' Carter told the attorneys last month.

Until the verdicts, Carter said he lacked jurisdiction.

"Now the constitutional issues are ripe,'' Carter said after the verdicts.

The attorneys in the case will file legal briefs arguing whether the verdicts should be tossed out legal technicalities or on constitutional grounds. Carter will hear oral arguments on Feb. 28.

Las Vegas attorney Stephen Stubbs, who represents the Mongols, told reporters after the verdicts, "This is the first time ever in U.S. history where the government is banning symbols... It's a sad day for this country, but the fight continues.''

The main items at issue are three trademarks, including the logo bearing the Genghis Khan character. But there are many other items of property seized by authorities such as guns, ammunition, leather jackets and documents of membership lists that could be taken away.

Authorities do not intend to try to take away leather jackets from members, for instance. Under trademark law, however, the government will have to use the copyrights in some way or another so they don't lapse into eminent domain.

If Carter blocks the government from seizing control of the trademarks, the club could still face a $500,000 fine for a racketeering conviction.  

Stubbs told reporters after the December verdict that the club, which was formed in late 1969 in Montebello and has members nationwide, is not a violent criminal organization. He said all of the alleged crimes discussed in the trial occurred under the leadership of past president Ruben "Doc''
Cavazos, who was ousted.  

"The Mongols recognized he was doing things that were inappropriate and they kicked him out,'' Stubbs said then. "The Mongols are not a criminal organization and gang.''

In the racketeering verdict, jurors found that the club was guilty of dealing cocaine and methamphetamine as well as one attempted murder and a murder. The jurors deadlocked 10-2 for "not proven'' on one attempted murder and "not proven'' on two murders.  

But under the conspiracy conviction, the jurors validated multiple alleged incidents of violence, including murders and attempted murders as well as drug dealing.

Under the racketeering count, the jurors did not find the government should have the authority to seize the assets, but they cleared the way for it under the conspiracy count.

"I feel it was clear it was a compromise verdict,'' Stubbs said.

During the five-week first phase of the trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Welk argued that the patches Mongols wear on their leather jackets -- depicting a muscle-armed, ponytailed Asian man on a motorcycle -- are meant to be "messages and signals'' to rival gang members and even the general public that Mongols should be feared.

Welk noted that Mongols are instructed to not wear their leather jackets with patches in a car, and when they drive a car they are taught to fold them in a way to conceal their affiliation with the club from police.

"It's all about protecting themselves because they are a paranoid organization,'' Welk told the jury. "They're fearful and deeply suspicious of the government.''

He presented testimony in an effort to show a "lengthy parade of cruelty'' by the club's members. Welk argued that the club's members commit a range of crimes from drug trafficking to murder, all in service to the organization and at the direction of its leaders.

And he said when club members commit murder, they wear a specific skull-and-crossbones patch like a badge of honor.  

But the club's attorney, Joseph A. Yanny, accused the government of going after the organization for racial reasons.  

"I believe this group has been targeted because they have a lot of Mexican-Americans in there,'' Yanny said during his closing argument last month.

Yanny argued that the members who have committed crimes were kicked out for violating "zero tolerance'' policies against illicit activity that draws the attention of law enforcement.  

Yanny accused federal prosecutors of taking the "wrongful acts of a few individuals'' and escalate it to a "group conviction.''  

"These are ordinary people,'' he said of his clients. "They are hardworking people. You don't see the Hell's Angels here. You see the Mongols and minorities are easy to pick on and they typically don't fight like these guys do.''

Among the people who testified during the trial was former pro wrestler and ex-Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, who joined the Mongols in the 1970s.

Ventura told City News Service that he considered the government's attempts to seize the club's trademark as a threat to the First Amendment.  

"This is bigger than the Mongols club,'' Ventura said last month. "You've got the government... telling you what you can and cannot wear.''

He added, "The First Amendment is to protect unpopular speech. ...  Some people may think the Mongols are horrible, but they still have equal rights under the Bill of Rights. ... Who's next? The Shriners? Where does it end? It's a First Amendment issue top to bottom.''