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Biker profiling bill hits a snag

Motorcyclist Chuck Black  (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

Motorcyclist Chuck Black testifies to the Senate Committee on Public Safety Feb. 8. (Photo by Ryan Cook/RJ Cook Photography)

A bill to prevent police from profiling motorcyclists as outlaw bikers hit a snag this week when a Democratic lawmaker introduced changes that included allowing police officers to stop bikers wearing “hate symbols.’’

Another amendment would require police training to prevent racial profiling as well as profiling of motorcyclists.

SB1086 appeared to be on the fast-track of Senate passage, but Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, pulled it from Thursday’s consent agenda and drafted the two amendments. The bill then was held.

John Dreyfus, a lobbyist with the Arizona Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs, said Gallardo’s amendments would kill the bill. Dreyfus, a biker, said the plan now is to meet with Gallardo and try to reschedule the bill for Wednesday, which is a planned gathering of bikers at the Capitol called “Day at the Dome.”

“I am going to try and get him to hold off on those,” Dreyfus said. “My idea is, if we can get this bill passed we can use it as leverage for other types of civil rights bills, but we have to get something through.”

The bill would require the Arizona Peace Officers Standards and Training Board to teach police officers they aren’t supposed to arrest, search or question a motorcyclist just because he is riding a motorcycle or wearing “motorcycle related paraphernalia” like insignia patches that show affiliation with a motorcycle club.

Gallardo said the training isn’t necessary because he doesn’t believe police stop people just for riding a motorcycle.

“If we really want to have a discussion on profiling, we should have a discussion on racial profiling,” Gallardo said.

Gallardo said he was also troubled by a photo of a biker at the Feb. 8 Senate Committee on Public Safety hearing on the bill who wore Nazi symbols on his leather jacket. The photo led to his proposed amendment that would allow police to stop bikers who wear “hate symbols or words” if there is also other evidence of gang affiliation.

That biker, Chuck Black, told the committee that a Yavapai County deputy held him at gunpoint with a high-powered rifle after he had simply pulled over to wait while the deputy cited his friend.

Dreyfus, a Latino, said “bikers are just (a) different kind of people” and the Nazi symbolism is more for image, but they don’t see it as a problem no matter their race.

“Some of them wear swastikas and lightning bolts and everything else, but they hang out with me, they don’t care,” Dreyfus said. “We have Cuban bikers, Puerto Rican bikers and we all hang out together, all the events we go to we’re all together.”

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