UNLAWFUL DETAINMENT OR ROAD SIDE INSPECTIONS OF MOTORCYCLISTS
I’m going to do something I don’t normally do here. I’m going to write about something that bothers me. It’s motorcycle related, so please bear with me.
Recently, I’ve read a few stories about police doing “profiling” of motorcyclists. It wasn’t really profiling in the sense you and I have expected police to use profiling. Let’s face it, we all know police will stop a young black man driving through an influential, predominantly white neighborhood while driving his pimped out or beat up Chevy, but not the black man driving the Mercedes, wearing a three piece suit, and appearing like the rest of the white residents to be an affluent white collar businessman.
No, the profiling taking place in Holly RIDGE NC, (as well as other communities through out the US.) affects all kinds of motorcyclists. They are stopping at check points all two wheeled modes of motorized transportation without probable cause. They are inspecting our safety equipment, as well as our identity cards, our insurance cards, and gaining access to our personal belongings by doing a CLOSE inspection of what we have attached to our bikes. They are performing roadside intoxication tests, not because they observed the driver performing poorly while driving, but because they have decided during this unwarranted stop to inconvenience or embarrass the owner/operator of the bike…for what ever reason comes to the officer’s mind.
Have you ever driven past a stopped motorist, and thought… “hee heee…that’s what he gets for speeding through here!” Or perhaps you thought…. “I wonder what he did wrong?”
Have you ever seen a motorist on the side of the road taking a drunk test and thought, “Good, one more off the road!”
Have you ever driven past a friend, neighbor, or work mate stopped by police on the side of the road…and assumed they did something to be stopped? Have you ever thought that if this happened to you how devastating it could be to you if your boss drove by and saw you here taking a drunk test…and you hadn’t had a drink? How would your boss remember you for the upcoming promotions?
When I see people stopped by police, I am conditioned to assume these people did something to warrant the stop. I assume they were caught speeding. I assume they were observed performing an illegal act. I presume they were seen driving in an unsafe manner. I assume and presume a lot of things…but rarely do I think, “I wonder, did the cop stop them because they are being profiled?” “Did they get stopped because they ride a motorcycle and for no other reason?”
I’ve read the argument that motorcycles are harder to operate than cars, and therefore should be subject to police stopping them to check their status for sobriety, insurance compliance, safety equipment compliance, proper registration, proper licensing of both driver and machine. But in actuality, operating a motorcycle is not harder to operate, but rather is less understood by new owners due to not enough time spent observing or riding the motorcycle. (As children we spend all our lives observing the operation of cars, the usual method of the conveyance of multiple children and others.) Our awareness of what is safe or unsafe behavior is heightened and brought to bear…time and time again through the observance of the behavior and actions of our parents while driving a car. We do not have this same type of behavior modification and education for motorcycles. Thus we have motorcycle education classes. That does not go to say or mean motorcycles are harder to operate, but rather they operate under a different set of natural law than a four wheeled vehicle.
There is less room and tolerance for mistakes. It’s not HARDER to do unless your a complete moron who is unable to concentrate on the task at hand and complete it in a safe manner.
There is no argument that will allow a group of motorists (in America) to lose their right to ride the roads without just cause to stop them. There is no reason to allow the loss of my freedoms on the face of ill thought out safety issues.
I will not sit idly by while my right to ride is eroded by law enforcement in order to reduce my rights as a citizen of these United States. I am not a criminal. I do not like being treated as one simply for the mode of transportation I choose. And neither should you.
It matters not if I am riding with a three piece patch on my back or if I ride the path of the lone rider. As long as I have not publicly exhibited unlawful behavior, as long as the mandated safety equipment I have on my bike does not exhibit any unlawful flaws, I have the right to ride my machine unmolested by law enforcement.
It’s time to stand up and tell our police departments, they are not our lord and masters, but rather our defenders of just law. They do not have the right to stop and molest us because we ride. They do not have the right to take pictures of us beside our bikes on a traffic stop, or to write our descriptions including visible tattoos to put into a central computer somewhere. (Yes, I’ve had that happen to me in a small town in Florida in 1978.)
Stand now, use your voice to stop these unlawful roadside detentions! If this is happening in your community…YOU HAVE THE OBLIGATION to become one of the many who will stand up, be counted, and do his/her part to stop this kind of bullying by our law enforcement officials.